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C-SectionHow I Used Hypnobirthing For C-Section

How I Used Hypnobirthing For C-Section

Motherly Collective

Because I have a physical disability, I chose to have a planned C-section to deliver my baby. My care team and I discussed the risks and rewards of both vaginal delivery and C-section during my pregnancy, and I read a lot about C-sections (thanks The Essential C-Section Guide, Expecting Better and Like a Mother). Ultimately, I came to the decision that this was the best choice for myself and my baby. 

While I felt like a planned C-section was the best decision for me, I still had a lot of nerves about the big day. It’s unusual to be awake for a major surgery. And being prone to panic attacks, thinking about the potential side effects was causing me some stress. I was also not thrilled that my husband couldn’t be in the room for the whole surgery (where I gave birth in Canada, partners are often not allowed in until after the anesthesia is in place). I really didn’t want to do any of it alone.

I was talking with my counselor about some of my worries, and she suggested I consider a hypnobirthing class. I’d found that some of my research also mentioned hypnobirthing’s usefulness for helping with managing post-surgery pain. It took a bit of searching, but I found an online course called the Positive Caesarean Birth Course.

hypnobirthing made simple class - what is hypnobirthing

What is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing is a set or practice of relaxation and mind-body techniques, often involving meditation, visualizations, and positive affirmations. It is grounded in the same evidence-based principles that often guide mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy. Some people may choose to practice hypnobirthing for a vaginal birth. If you are planning for a vaginal birth and end up needing a C-section, I imagine that you would be able to use many of the techniques you learn in a vaginal birth-focused hypnobirthing class. 

Related: Curious about hypnobirthing? An expert explains what you need to know

Hypnobirthing for C-sections

For a C-section, hypnobirthing is not about replacing anesthesia or post-surgery pain medication, but complementing those tools. Employing the practice recognizes that the mental load of birth still exists with a C-section, and that people having C-sections are deserving of a positive birth experience.

How I used hypnobirthing to prepare for my planned C-section

Every time I did my physiotherapy exercises (pretty much the only thing I had the energy to do during the last two months of my pregnancy), I would listen to the positive affirmations track. 

I found myself reframing some of my thoughts using those mantras when I was feeling anxious about my birth. I would practice the hypno-visualizations when I could (even if I occasionally fell asleep to them), and I used them during surgery prep when I started feeling overwhelmed. 

I picked a playlist (I opted for spa-like music, calming but not distracting) and listened to it before my baby’s birth so that when we played it during the surgery, I would be able to associate the music with a calm environment.

My husband and I did the whole course together. That was important to me, so that I knew he could walk me through some techniques if I was needing support during the day of the birth. We did some exercises together to discuss our hopes for the birth, created a birth preferences plan, and did a “dress rehearsal” where we talked through how things might go. 

We also learned physical touch techniques that the non-birthing partner can offer, which we used during the procedure. These techniques allowed for the same type of bonding you might have with your partner in a vaginal delivery birthing class. 

I loved getting to take a birth-centered class like this even though I was having a C-section. It felt like participating in a classic pregnancy milestone, which doesn’t always feel relevant or available with a C-section birth. It also allowed me agency in the process of preparing for birth, where there are not as many options for C-sections. 

Related: How to have a positive birth experience with a C-section

Using hypnobirthing in my C-section left me empowered

Ultimately, taking a hypnobirthing course gave me the feeling that I could have an empowered, calm, and joyful birth process. That was so helpful in those days leading up to the birth, where I was wondering what my life would look like with a fresh new babe in my arms. 

The day of, I still experienced a lot of intense emotions. But I was so much better off having taken the class. In my two years of pregnancy and postpartum life, I continue to notice the lack of information-sharing that could really support people having C-sections (scar massage, anyone?). For better or for worse, we are 30% of the birthing population in North America, and are deserving of an array of support options moving through pregnancy and birth.

This story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother’s journey is unique. By amplifying each mother’s experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you’re interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.

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