HypnoBirthing: How to Have an Instinctive Birth

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Kieran Doucette, HypnoBirthing Instructor, Birth Doula, and owner of Stork to Swaddle. Being very curious about what HypnoBirthing is as well as how to become and instructor, I decided to chat interview style. Here is what we talked about!

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Q: Kieran, tell me a little about your background and how you got into the world of prenatal care?

A: I have my training for being a Birth Doula through DONA and I am a certified HypnoBirthing Instructor through the HypnoBirthing Institute. I got into this world pretty slowly. I noticed I was particularly interested when I had friends and relatives that were pregnant. I really enjoyed listening to their stories but what I realized was that usually, towards the end, they were disappointed with their outcomes from the standpoint of how their labor and delivery went. Healthy babies and healthy moms but maybe they had an intervention during their birth that they didn't want. I was hearing a lot of disappointment coming from my friends and relatives. I started doing a lot of research on my own knowing that one day I would be having a child and I really wanted to understand what the process was going to be like. I ended up having my own child and through going through my own experience, hiring a birth doula, and taking birth classes it led me into this world. Within four months of having my son, Louie, I went and became a HypnoBirthing Practitioner and did my training for being a Birth Doula. It was one of those things that happened over time.

Q: How does HypnoBirthing classes help moms and their partners/support person with their pregnancy and birth?

A: There are a lot of ways that HypnoBirthing will help moms and their partners throughout their pregnancy as well as during their labor and birth, and even postpartum. One of the most important things is that it really helps moms and partners have an instinctive birth. They learn how to listen and trust in their bodies, as well as and their baby’s. They trust that their body and their baby knows what to do and they really can trust in that and follow their instincts. We focus on several different things when we are doing our HypnoBirthing training. While it's beneficial for your partner to attend classes it is not necessary to have a partner to attend.

Another important things is fear, and releasing that fear. There is a lot of conversation about what fears do you have today, what exists in your head that you have heard your whole life about giving birth. Every TV show you have ever seen with a scene about birth is typically chaotic and the women is screaming throughout the hospital. These things that your mother has told you about how your own birth was, or your grandmother. We really hold onto these stories and these impressions, even though you may not know that you do. Fear causes tension in your body and tension is what causes pain. Along with focusing a lot on that, we also focus on hypnosis. Hypnosis is really just a state where you are relaxed and more susceptible to affirmations and visualizations. And hypnosis is only controlled by you, you are the only one who is going to allow yourself to be hypnotized. It is all about self hypnosis.

We also focus on breathing techniques. There is calm breathing, surge breathing (surge is the terminology we use for contraction), and then there is birth breathing. Birth breathing really helps in that last phase during labor when we are trying to bring baby down and out. We don’t talk about pushing in HypnoBirthing, we breathe our babies out. Visualizations and affirmations are really important. Another really important thing we focus on is education. We educate on how the uterus works, how to support your partner, and what positions to use, etc. Education all around. Another big component is your partner. Who can be your partner? Really anyone, your significant other, your doula, your mother, father, sister, friend. And it is really important that your partner joins you because we talk a lot about how your partner can advocate for you and help you during your labor and birth.

Q: How does being a birth doula compliment being a HypnoBirthing instructor?

A: Being a birth doula really allows me to know what happens outside of class. What I think is really helpful is that when I am with a birthing mom who maybe has not taken classes, I can help her with visualizations and affirmations and use the techniques I teach during HypnoBirthing to help her. And during classes, I am really able to help make sure things really resonate with partners and moms when they are in class.

Q: What does a typical HypnoBirthing class look like?

A: HypnoBirthing is a five week series, with each week having a 2.5 hour class. I teach group classes as well as private classes, which are pretty much very similar. During the classes we will watch videos (water births, home births, hospital births), and we will practice the breathing techniques. You learn the breathing techniques and you practice them at home but you also do them in class. I will do demonstrations as well as other people in the class will do demonstrations. We also do actual hypnosis and reading of scripts where people are going into that self hypnosis and deep relaxation. As I am doing this in class I will also teach partners how to read and lead them mom.

Q: How can someone make the most out of their HypnoBirth class experience?

A: Definitely it is all about practice! If you take the HypnoBirthing class and never practice at home your success is going to be slim. You will gain a lot of education during the classes, sure, but it is a philosophy AND a technique. If you are not practicing the breathing and relaxing techniques it is going to have an effect on how you can use these during labor. Practice is what you can do to make the most out of it. I think also participating while you are in class is always great. Ask questions, don’t be shy. Most of the time, the people sitting next to you don’t know the answer to the question you are asking. The topics are usually new to everyone. Even if a couple has had children before, they usually have not taken HypnoBirthing before.

Q: When would you say is the best time during pregnancy to start a HypnoBirthing class?

A: It is really up to whatever the mom is comfortable with. There is really no right or wrong answer. But you want to make sure you are taking it with enough time to practice and with enough time before your estimated due date so you can complete all five classes. The fifth class is one of the best classes to be in! This is the class we talk all about the aspects of actual labor and what to expect after (the fourth trimester). If I had to pick a time I would say somewhere around twenty weeks is a good time to start.

Q: For my fitness and health professionals, can you talk about the actual HypnoBirthing certification process?

A: The HypnoBirthing Institute only has a certain amount of practitioners that actually teach other practitioners. The HypnoBirthing website will have all the classes listed for the year with all the locations they will be at and who is teaching them. You would sign up for that certification and training. The training is a four day in person training. There is a hypnosis introduction so you actually spend one whole day learning about hypnosis. The rest of the time is spent learning the curriculum and how to teach it to others. We also did a lot of scripts and hypnosis during the classes. After the training there are two written exams you would take and send back to the instructor to be certified. There are some CECs you need to take each year to re-certify.

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Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your career?

A: I can’t pick just one! From a HypnoBirthing class perspective, the most rewarding part is seeing people leave class with confidence and feeling way more knowledgeable from when they first started. I will even sometimes throw out some wrong info in the classes and I LOVE it when especially one of the partners will jump right in and correct me. When they correct me, it is one of the best things! They have actually taken the information in and feel empowered, which is the whole point of the HypnoBirthing class. With being a birth doula, the most rewarding aspect is being invited to experience another human being come into this world and for someone to entrust and want me there. It is just amazing, and actually seeing it happen is totally different from having your own child. Seeing someone's child be born, and seeing a woman do that is just - the best! I get chills just talking about it!

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?

A: I would like to close with, one of the biggest things for people to get out of HypnoBirthing, and really any kind of childbirth education for that matter, is that empowerment that you have now the knowledge of how the body works. That is really really important. We also teach you how to talk to your providers, how to be prepared. Say for instance when there may be interventions in your birth plan suggested to you - how you and your partner can really tackle those and figure out the right questions to ask to figure out the right path. Another thing that is important to know  is that HypnoBirthing can support mothers and partners through any type of birth, whether its natural, VBAC, C-section, epidural, etc. The relaxation, hypnosis, and fear release for any of those types of births will help no matter what, and also if your birth plan changes. You can still use HypnoBirthing even if your birth plan changes because you keep yourself calm, and follow your instincts.

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Q: Where can people find you?

A: You can find me at www.storktoswaddle.com. I teach my group classes currently at BendyFish Yoga in Chichester, NH. I also offer private classes, I can come to you or you can come to me. You can email me at Kieran@storktoswaddle.com to set up a private class. Hope to hear from you!