My body remains still and limp: My first experience with Hypnobirthing

If you’re not familiar with hypnobabies, then look into my eyes.  Are you getting sleepy?  Yes.  You’re getting sleepy.  Very sleepy.  You’re entering the deepest sleep you’ve ever felt.

A drawing by Rob Pollak hypnobirthing and hypnobabies

When I snap my fingers, you will have an uncontrollable urge to share the link to my blog with everyone you know.

In the meantime, while you sit in a blissful state of heightened relaxation, let me tell you about hypnobabies.  To my surprise, hypnobabies has nothing to do with this Pokemon:

Nor does it have anything to do with a bunch of boozy babies slugging back this:

As I now understand it, Hypnobirthing is a French cult that brainwashes pregnant women with hippie-ish tendencies into believing that they will have a carefree and pain-free childbirth.  In other words, it’s the epidural without the shot or pain relief.  It achieves this by stealing your Friday nights during the height of Spring and placing you in a windowless corporate room with other terrified parents-to-be.

For the first hour of class, our Birth Professor read from the Hypno-manual and told stories that were meant to calm the nerves.  She told us that we don’t have to listen to friends who share the horror stories from their 91 hour labor.   “Thank god,” I thought as I listened to her proceed to tell us all the bad things that can happen if we don’t follow her instructions.

Or even if we do follow the instructions, how sometimes hypnobirthing can be so relaxed that the baby might slip out and become injured.  Like the time a Pilates instructor hypnobirthed and became so vaginally pliable that, while in labor, she went into a squat so deep that her baby cartwheeled out of the birth canal and hit his head on the ground.  Thankfully, the child was fine and he immediately found himself in happy baby pose while the doula checked his vitals.

Here’s how Hypnobirthing actually works.  You’re supposed to repeat certain affirmations in order to train your brain that the experience of labor is not a war between the body and the baby.  We practiced in class and discussed the way the affirmations can truly change your mindset.  It really did seem relaxing.

Here, try it with me:

My body remains still and limp

My body remains still and limp

My body remains still and limp?

Well, gee.  Wasn’t that empowering emasculating.

Here, let’s try another one together:

My cervix opens outward and allows my baby to ease down. 

My cervix opens outward and allows my baby to ease down. 

My cervix opens outward and allows my baby to ease down. 

Ahhhhhh!  Pure bliss.  I’m feeling better already.  You?

For me, the highlight of class was the first snack break.  Professor Placenta distributed these amazing French cookies.  The pregnant moms looked on in horror when I took two from the box, especially the mom at the end of the circle who may have gotten no cookies because of me.

It may have seemed like a dick move at the time, but as you’re about to see, proper nourishment can be very important for hypno dads.

After the break, the teacher explained that we would be moving to the video portion of the evening.  She wheeled in a sweet flat screen and popped in a DVD from 1974.

We watched two videos.  The first was an amazing five-minute birth, edited to make it seem as if labor involved no blood, no screaming, no pain, or no crying.  It’s exactly how I imagined labor to be when I imagined it involving a stork.  I felt better about the process and even started to wonder if I could stray from the North end zone in a few months when we’re in the delivery room.

That feeling of wonder was quickly shot down.

Video two:  A very relaxed mom and her husband wait for the big moment in the delivery room.  They laugh and joke as if they didn’t have a care in the world.  They probably didn’t, but the second film was directed by the Stanley Kubrick of Hypnobirthing videos.  A quick cut sent us from the laughter and joking to the inside of what’s medically known as “up in the business.”  There, a brand new child with a head the size of rottweiler began corkscrewing its way through an opening the size of nostril.

As the child moved down the birth path, the temperature of the classroom suddenly increased by 12,400 degrees.  I looked up to my left to see how Anne was taking it.  All three of her seemed to be taking it quite well.  Those buttery French cookies that earlier had been so delicious now felt as if they had lodged in the portion of my esophagus just north of digestion and south of regurgitation.

On the brink of collapse, I put into practice all the tricks I had learned during the first hour of class.  I bobbed my head in rhythm and recited every affirmation I knew:  Mycervixopensoutward Mycervixopensoutward Mybodyislimp Mybodyislimp.

I felt much much better until a second later when a pool of blood gushed out of the birther’s upinyourbusiness and then the other things that come out came out.  I don’t know what these were, but one looked like an alien with an eel connected to it, one looked like a sac of breast implant, and another looked like this turkey chili Anne once cooked for me.

Pass out

Frenchie walks over and turns off the video and says, “so, Vhat did zoo theeenk?”  At least that’s what I think she said.  It was hard for me to hear her voice, which was being drowned out by the birds circling my head and chirping.  I stared up at her and tried to respond, but I could barely see through the bright light that I was slowly gliding towards.

At that moment, I leaned forward in my chair and took hold of my head.  Anne emerged from her state of hypno-meditative bliss and finally caught a glimpse of me.  “Why do you look like the guy from Powder?”  She asked.  “Are you okay?”  She reached over and gently rubbed the top of my head, a move she instantly regretted when she felt my sopping brow.

Amazingly, I didn’t faint, but I was brought back to full consciousness by Anne’s audible laughter at my expense.  I shared with the class that I had just almost passed out, and everyone had a good laugh at my expense.  Although I was embarrassed, I like to consider my light-headedness as an act of macho bravery.  You see, after mocking me for a few minutes, each of the moms went into reassurance mode and explained to me how I had nothing to be afraid of and how the whole thing’s not so bad or scary.  In other words, by nearly passing out, I effectively allayed all of the fears that these women had expressed in the pre-cookie portion of class.  You’re welcome ladies.

Before we were dismissed, I asked the teacher if anyone had ever fainted when they saw those videos.  She responded with a curt “non.”  That’s French for “no, you pussy.”

Technically speaking, the answer to my question remains the same.

Suck it, Hypnobirthing.

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