Natalie was a 25-year-old mother completely unprepared for and terrified of childbirth. A friend sent her a custom hypnosis for childbirth that she listened to during her pregnancy. During her birth, her doula (a birth support person) kicks out a nurse and she forgets everything she learned in Lamaze. Listen in to find out what happened.
Dr. Liz also talks about prenatal yoga and how it fits in with Hypnosis.
La Leche League International is mother to mother, free breastfeeding support. Visit them at http://www.lalecheleague.org
For a Free Hypnosis for a Better Prengancy, Join the Newsletter!
If you’re interested in becoming a prenatal yoga teacher, visit http://bit.ly/iloveprenatalyoga
If you’re already a prenatal teacher and want to have Dr. Liz’s system that she used to build her classes to full with a waiting list, visit http://bit.ly/prenatal-yoga-MFYM
I have a couple of links for hypnosis for childbirth if you’re local to Broward County and want to check them out. I absolutely LOVE doing hypnosis for childbirth for women. I love releasing the fears and helping them feel more comfortable. I love talking about what they truly want in a birth. And I love preparing the hypnosis for them knowing how effective it is.
Here are a couple of blog posts about it:
Today I interviewed Natalie Rawlings who was a young mother in her mid-20s who felt completely unprepared for her pregnancy and particularly childbirth. A friend of her husband’s who was a clinical hypnotherapist sent her a hypnosis tape she could listen to, which she did throughout her pregnancy and she ended up having a birth that she never imagined.
Let’s tune in and hear what happened.
I’m here today with Natalie Rawlings and we have been really close friends for almost like 13 / 14 years. We met through La Leche League which is breastfeeding mother to mother support. It’s FREE. All over the world. In case you want to check that out. If you’re pregnant you can go to meetings. If you have a baby in you’re nursing you can go to meetings. See if there’s one in your area. And Natalie is also a La Leche League Leader now
Natalie: There’s a meeting tonight in fact.
Dr. Liz: But other than that when she was pregnant with her first, Emily, who is now . . . How old is she?
Dr. Liz: Wow. 19! She’s a sophomore in college. And you got pregnant. And then what?
Natalie: To be perfectly frank with you, it was entirely planned but very soon after getting pregnant I came to the realization that I was utterly psychologically unprepared to become a mother. There are all kinds of crazy thoughts that went through my mind not the least of which was I had skipped a year in high school and somehow managed to skip biology. And I had like no idea of what it meant to be a mammal. So if there was someone who was unprepared to have a natural childbirth it was probably me. But there was a silver lining to being married to a man who was 18 years my senior was that he was an unreconstructed hippie from the 60s and his college roommate was a fellow named David Norton. And he runs the Hartford hypnosis center in Connecticut. And David was kind enough to make a cassette tape. Yes. That’s how old I am – a tape for hypnosis for childbirth. And I listened to this tape every single day from the moment that I got it and was able to have a completely un-medicated hypnosis childbirth in a hospital setting in Plantation General which has one of the state’s highest C-section rates.
My birth story is kind of interesting in that for someone who had a normal birth my doula was the head of critical care nursing at Jackson Memorial down in Miami and she was just a good personal friend and she was Jamaican. And my doula at one point fired my first labor and delivery nurse because she was trying to get me to take meds and lie in bed and be a good obedient patient so that I could eventually have a C-section and she could be done for the day.
And my doula walked out into the hallway with my first LDR nurse and they were both Jamaican and I didn’t understand a word but all I could hear was that my doula was only going after her. Now then this Rastafarian nurse came in and said I’m your new labor delivery nurse now.
I was like that’s fine by me.
Dr. Liz: So you’re. Yeah.
Natalie: So the tape was great. It was about 20 minutes. It had a lot of the standard hypnosis tropes you know, “Close your eyes, concentrate on your breathing, visualize a happy place, visualize yourself walking with your child.” I didn’t know what gender I was going to have. I had never met David Norton and the first time I met him . . .
Dr. Liz: So he had mailed this tape to you? Was that what he did? You were living in Plantation, Florida and he was in Connecticut?
Natalie: Connecticut, Yes.
Dr. Liz: He gave it to you as a gift because he was a friend of your husband’s. Now your ex-husband but your husband at a time.
Natalie: Yes. He was my ex-husband’s college roommate.
Dr. Liz: OK. Got it. All right. So he mailed it to you. You listen to it and then when did you actually meet him?
Natalie: Three years later.
Dr. Liz: Oh wow!
Natalie: Yeah. This was just before the Internet and he mailed me the tape. Nowadays, you would download the thing.
Dr. Liz: Yes, You sure would.
Natalie: It was great. And he did a very nice job. It was part of his part of his repertoire of work. You know amongst the quit smoking stuff, and the goal setting stuff ,and the working through fears and anxiety. I remember when I first got it, I was a little bit like, “oh I don’t know.” But I was very committed despite being woefully unprepared as a thinking mammal. I was very committed to un-medicated and a natural childbirth. My ex-husband was equally committed to a hospital birth and hypnosis seemed like the ideal solution for us to reconcile the two situations. We found an OBGYN who was sympathetic and willing to go along with the birth plan and willing to go along with the hypnosis birth. He seemed to think that at some point in transition I would give it all up and you know just get the pitocin and get it over with. And that did not happen.
Dr. Liz: What was transition like for you? Did you stay in a relaxed state? Was it like, “Oh shit. Here it is?” What was it like for you?
You know transition was gradual. It was not some sort of sudden onset thing. I remember a moment before transition where they came in and they said, “You know you are X number of centimeters dilated. If you’re going to get an epidural, now’s your moment.”
I looked at my doula. I was like, “Could you please just get this woman out of here?” Because I had been taken out of my focus, I had the worst
contraction that I think I had had the whole birth cycle. And I look at my ex-husband and I said to him, “This natural childbirth shit is for the birds!” Then I took deep breaths and concentrated on my beach scene and being at peace and I hit the reset button and I did well.
When I was in transition, the nurse went to get the doctor and the doctor and the nurse had a conversation standing in the doorway. And the nurse had her back to me and the doctor was facing me. And he’s reading my chart and discussing it with the nurse and his first question is, “What is she on?” When the nurse said, “She’s not on anything. She’s just having a natural childbirth with the help of hypnosis, ”
He said, “really?” And he popped his head in and he just couldn’t believe that that was happening because it was so unusual. And he said Well OK fine. And then I guess figuring because I wasn’t screaming bloody murder, he went off and delivered another baby.
Which was probably all good.
But one thing I do remember about my birth and it’s really just similar to the whole hypnosis thing is I would have had what they call a Veil baby if they hadn’t broken my water. I was 10 centimeters dilated. And I was having contractions and at all the appropriate moments pushing. And someone asked, “Did her water break?” And they said, “No!”
And I have a feeling to this day that the LDR nurse and the doula were sort of working on this little mystical thing that I can get a veil baby, a baby born with the amniotic sac intact.
Dr. Liz: Yes, in the caul. Which a lot of people believe, as a side note, that they’re psychic. In midwifery lore.
Right. Which is why I think they were trying to put it past the doctor. Yeah. So then what I do remember . . . The OBGYN gets this thing and I remember thinking God for all you know, for all the world, it looks like a coat hanger, like geez I hope that thing is sterile. He breaks my water.
And my beautiful little daughter was born. Born just in time for breakfast after laboring through the night.
So well it was really neat. The funny thing about the hypnosis piece was we had also gone to Lamaze classes. And when it got time to get busy with the real Lamaze business, the nurse asked, “Did you take Lamaze classes?”
“Yes. Yes we took them.”
“Do you remember what to do now?”
And Jim and I just looked at each other like no absolutely not. No idea.
So I just started thinking you know I could hear Dave’s voice in my head of course when you play the tape twice a day and in the three weeks leading up to your birth you can hear Dave’s voice in your head. And it’s just about breathing and concentrating on the breathing, concentrating on being well and healthy, imagining yourself with this healthy beautiful baby and just pushing through whatever pain or discomfort. I don’t think he used the word pain at all.
Dr. Liz: Yeah. We never do use discomfort because pain is so subjective and it’s also a term that often will set off pain. You know I hear the word pain I can think of something that’s hurting in my body right now.
Right. Agreed agreed he was about discomfort and pushing through you and all these things will pass and you’ll be able to walk on the beach with this child. And well actually it was about imagining a beautiful garden and then it was sort of then there was a visualization at the end about what was ideal for me and of course it was by walking on the beach which is a very important image to me.
So you know work through that discomfort, breathe through. Take a big breath and cleansing breath out, big breath in cleansing breath out. Push when the when the nurse tells you to. That wasn’t on the tape and you know push as appropriate I think was one of the words that he said. I would have played the tape if I still had a means of playing a cassette but I don’t.
Dr. Liz: So you try to stay in the moment and take your attention back to all the instruction that you had been listening to for the last month.
Natalie: Yeah I got the tape when I was maybe three months pregnant and I listened to it every single day really religiously. It was about building a place in my head and in my emotional state to be ready to have the baby because as soon as you get pregnant, as you know, people just love to tell you their birth stories. And until you get to a supportive mothers group a lot of these birth stories are horrible. If you allow your head to be crowded with those thoughts, then in my mind it becomes self-fulfilling. And so I was very determined to stay psychologically strong so that I could get through it. I figured my body could do that. I had nice good checkups and I was young, but I wanted to be psychologically strong. The one thing I feared was being in labor forever. And lucky for me I was not. But I also think I was able to move the process along just because I was visualizing the end product – a healthy baby.
You know I had all kinds of good support and I had you know I had the doula. I had the Rastafarian LDR nurse who kept coming in and checking on me and telling me that I was doing very well.
There was some concern because my baby’s heart rate was unnaturally slow. Even then the LDR nurse just kept looking at me and looking at my face and I could tell that she was being honest and said, “It’s just because you’re so relaxed.”
“It is because you are so relaxed that your baby is just going through this process. You know you two are going to get through this together.”
Dr. Liz: Wow what a wonderful thing for her to say to you.
Natalie: I think it was a really nice encouraging thing to say. You know that one with the accidental comment of the doctor.
Dr. Liz: How old were you?
Natalie: I was 25 when I gave birth.
Dr. Liz: Wow. So yeah that was young. I mean that seems young to me now.
Well young by the American standards of today. But I’m kind of the proof that anybody could do it. I mean I’m married a crunchy granola unrepentant hippie. And Jungian psychology and hypnosis and all of that stuff was not my thing.
And yet you know I accepted the hypnosis piece of it and I really credit it for my being able to have the kind of birth that I wanted in a setting where the odds really were stacked against you.
I clearly recall that the doctor in the practice on call was the guy who delivered my baby. But the guy I saw every month and then every week in the weeks as you near your date you start going every wee, was a guy who said yeah you can do your birth plan. Yeah you can have hypnosis. And he wasn’t totally convinced of it. But he came in and he was and he picked up little Emily and she was you know seven pounds nine ounces and he was a big guy I got her in sort of a football hold and he looked at the both of us. And I could just tell that a he still truly enjoyed being an obstetrician and delivering babies. And he was pretty darn awed at the way the whole thing had gone down in Plantation General of all places.
Dr. Liz: Wow. Yeah it’s amazing. The statistics here even 19 years later are still awful. We have the highest Cesarean rates in the entire country.
Natalie: I see sort of the whole scheduled c section thing of I’ll be back at work in four and a half weeks. So this baby can’t interrupt my life when any one of us who’s had a baby, even those who have scheduled Cs, realize that this baby is going to spend the rest of its life interrupting your life.
That’s what children are for. Remarkable experience and thank you for letting me think about it again.
Dr. Liz: Yeah it’s amazing what comes back when you start to tell the story because I think over the years you have this shortened version that you give and often it’s even a one liner if you meet someone and they’re pregnant and they want to talk about that stuff. I never assume any woman wants to talk about birth who’s pregnant but that’s because I taught prenatal yoga for so long.
And here’s a public service announcement: Do not touch any pregnant woman ever again. Do not ask her how many weeks she is. Do not talk to her about birth. Do not tell her that you had a horrible birth. Don’t tell her you had a good birth. I mean, seriously. Pretend that she is like any other person walking around in the world.
Sometimes you get into these conversations and a woman does want to talk about that and it becomes a one liner, “Like oh I had my baby with hypnosis.” Or I had this or I had that or whatever it is.
But then when you actually go back and start thinking about it it’s like wow all these amazing things happened and this is what I did to prepare myself and this is what I used and this is how it felt. And you know all the details come right back. Because it’s such a life changing experience.
Yeah I mean I only gave birth to one child but it was a very numinous experience. And I’m thinking this might be the right word for it.
Dr. Liz: Yeah. You’re going to have to define that for us, for the rest of us, Natalie.
Natalie: So for normal people it’s kind of a moment that glows in your memory. It’s magical. It’s magical and it really did feel magical. It felt I went back and I read in my journal which I must have written about six hours after the baby was born and it’s just full . . . I mean it’s not well-written. It’s just a million exclamation points and how great it was and and how none of my deepest fears came true. And how the breathing and visualizing helped a lot. And about how we just basically forgot everything we had been taught in the Lamaze’s classes.
Dr. Liz: Sounds like you just stayed in your zone like you went back to your zone. You stay there and the baby came out.
Natalie: That’s pretty much it. I wish it was a little bit more complicated than that. But you know the key to that was the pre-work in the weeks and weeks of listening to that audio tape so that I could stay in that zone. I had something to focus on.
Dr. Liz: Yeah I hear that as helpful whether women decide to do hit no birthing or custom hypnosis or download one off the Internet. It’s helpful for them to have something to focus on in those many, many months leading up to it. They just that act itself of listening to something and focusing on something helps bring down the anxiety of the approaching birth.
Natalie: Right. You reduce all the noise and the chatter that’s going on around you. What’s helpful is it is all about you in that moment and you can find your center, find your comfort place and say OK well you know I am clearly uncomfortable from the waist down and I have to do something about it. And the hypnosis told me what I was supposed to do. And then the nurse told me that it was time to push so I pushed. And it was really, really kind of wonderful.
Dr. Liz: Yes. Yeah. Sounds absolutely wonderful. Well thank you so much for being here today. I think we’ve come to the end of our time but I really appreciate your time and in talking about Emily’s birth and how it helped transform you.
Thank you. I appreciate you asking because I haven’t had the opportunity to think about it too much and I don’t go to my LLL meetings now. You know with my baby being 19 years old to talk about my birth story. I’m more at a place where I can listen to others birth story.
Dr. Liz: Yes. Yeah. Right before we end here I want to say that the often a great place to process your birth story is LLL. Whether it’s traumatic, whether it wasn’t. It’s such an accepting atmosphere.
Natalie: We’re all about breastfeeding and helping you do that in whatever way or in whatever way that’s going to work best for you and your family. We do get all kinds. Over the 19 years I’ve been involved with LLL, I’ve been to a lot of meetings and a lot of different groups and that’s the only constant.
Dr. Liz: Yes and I put how to find the meeting in the show for the listeners to hear.
That was a wonderful interview with Natalie I was so happy to do it. And what really struck me is that she was committed to listening to this hypnosis like she said twice a day for months and she was committed to having the birth that she wanted.
It doesn’t always work out that way. You’ll hear that soon when my birth story goes to air actually on the podcast next week but it did for her and she felt like hypnosis really helped get her through those really tough times in the birth as well as reduce anxiety during pregnancy.
I hear over and over again. So that’s a wonderful piece. Another way to do that and I’ve said this before on the podcast is through prenatal yoga. So find a class in your area and go. It really helps reduce anxiety and depression during pregnancy as well as after. If you have a clinical hypnotherapist in your area that does hypnosis for childbirth look them up. Get some help with that.
Take a class or do a custom hypnosis for childbirth. Anything that’s going to help you feel more relaxed more comfortable during birth is going to be great for you. So find someone in your area to work with you and prepare that for you.
Or download one from the Internet. There’s a free hypnosis for a better pregnancy on my web site if you join the newsletter and then I also do custom hypnosis for birth. I find that that’s much more effective because people have different fears. They need to release fear of birth. They have different birth plans they have different goals for their own birth.
So I find the custom ones are very effective.
I also talked in the interview about being a prenatal yoga teacher. So if you’re interested in becoming one yourself really being a part of Women’s Pregnancy in this way you can go to two places. There’s either I love prenatal yoga to become a teacher. You can find out when my next training is. And the other place if you’re already a prenatal yoga teacher is Marketing from your Mat. That lays out my whole system to how to build a really successful prenatal yoga classes. So check both of those out.
And I’m also going to put in the show now to link to La la league so that you would get breastfeeding support if you’re into this and you need that kind of support. Have a wonderful week. Peace.
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