I Did a Natural Hypno-Birth


By Didan Ashanta

One day, during my final year in the all-girls’ high school I attended, our Personal Development teacher was on the topic of ‘marriage’ and took the opportunity to teach us ladies how to be mentally prepared for the first sexual experience. (I think someone was concerned that it was bound to be horrible.) Then, after the lesson, I remember my friend Phyana stretching a rubber band until it burst to demonstrate what would happen to our vulva during birth. LOL. I never forgot either lesson from that day. As I grew older, I was ever challenged by women who, like Phyana, were bent on making me terrified and paranoid about the birthing experience. Yet, somehow, I was convinced otherwise. Just like my teacher had emphasised the importance of relaxation for a pleasant sexual experience, I knew that relaxation must have some impact on the experience of labour and childbirth.

Fast forward 15 years from that memorable day in high school to my first pregnancy: I was not going to surrender to the Hollywood portrayal of childbirth! I was determined to bring my baby into the world under calm and controlled circumstances. Afterall, I’ve never been one for hysterics nor pandemonium. So, after much searching and researching, I found out about Hypnobirthing. Basically, it is a birth preparation philosophy that is built on the premise that in the absence of fear and tension, a woman’s body will birth normally and the pain, duration of labour and need for surgical intervention will be diminished if not eliminated. The practice includes breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, positive birthing affirmations and visualisations. I read the book “Hypnobirthing – The Mongan Method” with my husband and practised the techniques on my own. I learned about the history of birthing (and obstetrics), how fear affects labour, the power of the mind, how the uterus is designed and how it works during labour. I also listened to relaxation recordings and watched videos of calm, gentle births. Halfway through all of it, I was convinced that I could do it too.

I fondly remember the night that I walked into the hospital’s maternity ward, cracking jokes with my friends – only to have the midwife examine me and announce that I was 4cm dilated. I recited my birthing affirmations and practised my breathing with each contraction. Chatting with my husband and obstetrician about current events helped me to remain calm and I would visualise my baby moving through the birth canal as I breathed down with every contraction. Five hours after being examined, my little girl was in my arms and the birth experience I had was amazing! I actually thought, “This wasn’t bad. I’d do it again!” But, the most significant thing for me, was having my husband (who had studied Hypnobirthing with me) work with me through labour, and then give me the cue to breathe down our baby once her head had crowned.

Labour took a lot of energy and I felt like I was using my uterine muscles to shove a very heavy load, but it wasn’t pain. Don’t get me wrong – I know pain! (I used to suffer from two-week-long migraine headaches and spent all of my teen and young adult years with the daily agony of scoliosis.) But, what I realised was that the relaxation techniques and deep breathing limited the discomfort. Don’t believe me? Double your fist as tight as you can – until your knuckles burn – then take a pen or marker and try to stuff it through the space in the crook of your index finger through to your pinky. Now, relax your fist – but don’t open it – and try to stuff the pen or marker through now. This second approach, is my best attempt at simulating gentle birthing – you can feel the pressure of the object as it moves through your fist but, it doesn’t hurt.

For me, having a gentle birth was not just about comfort or avoiding a c-section. It was about being empowered as a woman and calmly birthing a child who will grow up with a calm spirit. I knew that my baby would only be born once and I wanted to have some control over that experience. I realised that the same Creator that designed my body to be fertile had also enabled my body to nurture and grow my baby from conception. So, it must follow through that my body had been equipped to birth my baby naturally and comfortably. I know that each person is different and there are some circumstances that will require medical intervention. But, if you desire it, rest assured that a calm, comfortable birthing experience is possible!

Didan Ashanta is a natural living enthusiast who blogs at DidanAshanta.com. She currently lives in Tokyo with her husband and 9-month-old daughter.

Didan Ashanta

About Didan Ashanta

Didan Ashanta is the author of "Jamaican Green Smoothies" and a LifeDesigner who blogs about eating your way to vibrant health at DidanAshanta.com. A native of Jamaica, she currently lives in the Tokyo, Japan with her husband and 3-yr-old daughter.

  • BeaJae

    This is inspiring. If I have children, I really want the pregnancy and birthing experience to be as calm and natural as possible. I’d definitely prefer a holistic approach. Thanks for sharing.

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    • http://didanashanta.com Didan Ashanta

      I’m honoured to encourage and inspire you, Beajae. It is definitely possible to have a calm and natural birth. I have learnt that every thing we want in life, we must go after it passionately. Just as we spend time learning how to drive for a one-time exam, we have to spend time preparing mentally and physically for a positive birth experience. All the best. 🙂

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  • Zoopath

    I’m glad that you were able to do it. I wasn’t able to convince myself that I was feeling pressure and not pain but I’m happy for those who are able to make it work.

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    • reflection

      Zoopath, I’m with you. I did a natural, vaginal birth with no medication but it hurt like HELL!!! I was not able to tell myself that what I was feeling wasn’t pain — and I think that’s okay.

      Funnily, what happened during labor is after a while I came to the sober realization that I had several painful hours ahead of me and I might as well make peace with it. So I just kind of smoldered angrily in the birthing tub as the contractions rocked me. When it was finally time to push I was so ready for everything to be over and I pushed so hard that the midwife nearly didn’t catch my son as he was flying out. Lol!

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    • http://didanashanta.com Didan Ashanta

      Zoopath, I really wish you could have had a more pleasant birthing experience. I realise that if we don’t condition both our mind and body for the experience and even more importantly, have a partner who is equally conditioned that you can birth calmly and comfortably, it is going to be a difficult and likely disappointing experience. Maybe next time, sis 😉

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  • http://Dreamschooled.wordpress.com Kyja

    Wow, this is a beautiful story. Truthfully, I find it hard to believe even though I’m a crunchy hippie. I’m just starting to think seriously about starting a family, but years ago I got on the natural birth bandwagon. Now that it’s time to plan I’m more overwhelmed than excited thinking about birth.

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    • http://didanashanta.com Didan Ashanta

      Kyja, I’m personally willing to chat with you and share how the Hypnobirthing philosophy and techniques really and undoubtedly worked for me. The mind is a powerful tool that can either break you or build you – based on what you feed it!

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  • LibraryLady

    This was a beautiful story and very inspiring. I have had one natural birth, and it was kind of traumatizing for me. I did not do hypno birthing. But, I read many natural birth books, and tried to tell myself over and over that my body was opening up to bring my baby out. I tried to be as relaxed as possible. But, honestly, it hurt.

    My doula, sister, and husband thought I was handling labor so well, because I didn’t scream out, but calmly handled contractions by breathing out and trying to be relaxed. And, it helped a lot. But, it still hurt, I can’t lie.

    Once I experienced my natural birth, while a beautiful thing, I did not want to experience that again. Maybe I didn’t relax myself enough, maybe I was too tired, I’m not sure.

    But, I loved reading what you wrote, and I wish that my experience had been more similar to yours.

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    • http://didanashanta.com Didan Ashanta

      I’m glad that you had a calm, controlled and beautiful experience, LibraryLady!
      The amazing thing about the relaxation techniques employed by hynobirthers is that you literally become so still and deeply relaxed that onlookers can’t tell if you’re conscious or not. But, more than anything else, I want you (and others) to understand that being prepared for a comfortable birth requires months of practice and daily training to get to the stage where the mindframe becomes 2nd nature. It is not something that you can think happy thoughts and be ‘painfree’. It is a complete reprogramming of the mind! I’m just happy to know that it is possible and more women can choose this kind of experience.

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