Hypnobabies Interview: Part Two

In part one of my interview with Hypnobabies childbirth educator and doula Crystal Di Domizio, she shared what it is about Hypnobabies that resonates most with her. You can read about it here.  In the second part of the interview, Crystal goes into more detail about Hypnobabies, what sets it apart from other childbirth hypnosis programs, and how giving birth to her daughter has enriched not only her life, but also her work.  
crystal1Let’s talk first about about what Hypnobabies is and how it differs from HypnoBirthing. How do you describe the difference to soon-to-be parents?
Hypnobabies and HypnoBirthing are two different brands of childbirth hypnosis programs. Since they are completely different programs (with a few similarities) I encourage pregnant women and their partners to research their options so they can choose the course that resonates most with them.
Here is what makes Hypnobabies unique and different from other hypnosis for childbirth programs:
Comprehensive Childbirth Education – We cover all the advantages, disadvantages and natural alternatives to the choices you have available to you during pregnancy and birthing. We also cover nutrition, exercise, optimal fetal positioning, stages of birthing, positions for birthing, comfort measures, doulas, breastfeeding, postpartum care, newborn care… and much more! You’ll find all the information that a regular prenatal class covers plus we teach you how to use self-hypnosis.
Eyes-Open Childbirth Hypnosis – We teach pregnant women how to enter self-hypnosis quickly and easily and how to maintain deep levels of hypnosis and relaxation while walking, talking, eating and actively moving through their birth process. While a woman is birthing with Hypnobabies she is fully present, aware and in touch with her body and her baby.
Medical Hypno-Anesthesia – The goal of Hypnobabies is an easier and more comfortable birth. To accomplish this we teach the same kind of hypnosis techniques that are used by people who undergo surgery with hypnosis as their only anesthetic.
Birth Partner Support – Birth Partner’s walk away with a calm and confident attitude towards pregnancy and childbirth due to receiving their own hypnosis CD and detailed Birth Partner’s Guide that we cover fully in class.

Why did you choose to become a Hypnobabies educator?
After becoming a holistic nutritionist and birth doula I knew that I wanted to also teach a form of childbirth education. Upon researching my options the Hypnobabies philosophy and course resonated most with me. I was and still am deeply moved by the Hypnobabies births that I have experienced as a Hypno-Doula. It is the most comprehensive course I have found that combines information to make informed decisions about your care and deep relaxation techniques for an easier and more comfortable birth.
crystal2You became a Hypnobabies childbirth educator before having your daughter. Was your plan always to use Hypnobabies with your own labour even before you became an educator?
The first birth that I attended as a doula was a Hypnobabies birth. That mom inspired me deeply and from that moment forward I knew that I wanted to use Hypnobabies for my own birth one day! Now that I’ve experienced the program and the tools as a pregnant and birthing woman I am even more passionate about the program!

Without giving away too much information (in order to protect the privacy of your past client), what exactly about her birth (or the way she birthed) inspired you?
When I went through my doula training I learned about the stages of labour, what happens during those stages, what women look and sound like, etc. My first birth blew all of that information out of the water. Attending Hypnobabies births where the moms were happy, smiling and comfortable deeply inspired me as I prepared for my own birth. I love the idea that there is such a wide range of experiences that women can have birthing their babies and that they aren’t all scary, hard and painful. [This idea] has forever changed my life!
crystal3How has having your own child informed your work (doula, hypnobabies childbirth educator etc)?
It is hugely valuable to me that I have personally experienced the work I do from holistic preconception and prenatal nutrition to Hypnobabies and natural birth. I feel like I bring a deeper level of knowledge and expertise to the work I do having now experienced my own pregnancy and birth. That being said I never claim to know it all and respect each woman’s individual journey through pregnancy and childbirth and support them on their own path to motherhood.

Hypnobabies Student SetBIO:
Crystal Di Domizio is a Holistic Nutritionist, Doula and Hypnobabies Childbirth Educator in Vancouver, BC. She is passionate about reaching first time moms with the information they need to have a positive pregnancy and birth experience. You can download a free “Relax Me” self-hypnosis session at cultivateyourhealth.com/mp3. You can also read more about her journey at prenatalcoach.com

*Photos of Crystal teaching her Hypnobabies class are courtesy of “Revolution Health.” www.revolutionhealth.ca

* Hypnobabies photo courtesy of Hypnobabies®.


Hypnobabies Interview: Part One

I recently interviewed Crystal Di Domizio about Hypnobabies.  She is a local Vancouver Hypnobabies childbirth educator, doula, and holistic nutritionist.  She writes about her own journey at Prenatalcoach.com. Crystal is also a mother and therefore a student of Hypnobabies as well.  She welcomed her sweet daughter sixteen months ago, which you can read about here.  Before we even started the interview, Crystal clarified the difference between Hypnobabies and HypnoBirthing.  She discusses the key differences between the two, in the second part of our interview.  Before I post that interview, Crystal shares a bit about her own philosophy in regards to Hypnobabies.

The Hypnobabies philosophy resonates deeply with me because they teach that birth is a normal, natural, physiological process just like our heart beating and our digestive organs functioning. In the vast majority of cases all of these physiological processes function optimally all on their own without any intervention. This takes away a lot of the fear and anxiety that women have about birthing. It helps to put the power back into women’s hands. It makes them realize that they are the expert when it comes to birthing their baby and that they are in charge of the process. [This includes] the choices they have about where, when and how to birth their babies.

This is in alignment with my philosophy about health and about life. I am also a huge advocate for informed consent and I love how detailed and thorough this part of the course is. I’ve found that the women who have the most empowering birth experiences (regardless of how their baby decides to come into the world) come[s] from those that were educated about their choices and played an active role in the decision making process.

I also love that the goal of Hypnobabies is an easier, more comfortable birth. I have met women who have birthed pain-free even without any form of childbirth hypnosis. Yet, so many of the books you read and courses you take about childbirth say that pain is an inevitable part of the process. I don’t believe that birth has to be pain-free, but I also don’t believe that it has to involve pain.

I love the idea that we can give the subconscious mind new information and programming. We can open our minds to birth being easier and more comfortable to counter[act] all the negative information we’ve absorbed over the years. This allows for woman have their own experience instead of assuming or telling women that they will most definitely experience pain.
I’ve had many students experience pain-free births because of this hypnotic subconscious programming [found in Hypnobabies]. Even though this isn’t the goal of Hypnobabies, it is a very real possibility!

In my [own] life I’ve overcome an “incurable” disease and part of my journey involved hypnosis. So, I know the seemingly impossible is definitely possible and want every woman to experience their own truth versus what society and media tell us birth should be like.

*Photo of Crystal and her daughter Madison courtesy of Megan Taylor Photography.  You can find more of Megan’s beautiful photography here.

Body Image: Post Pregnancy

Since giving birth, I have a new appreciation for my body.  My body is awesome in the truest sense of the word.  I have embraced the many stages and changes that evolve out of pregnancy and see them as positive.  The focus for me, has been on the beauty of carrying life, not on returning to a pre-pregnancy body.  Margaret Lazarus’ documentary film entitled “Birth Markings”  speaks to these ideas.  Her documentary features many different women speaking about their own postpartum bellies which acts as a physical metaphor and reminder of the transformative power of birth.pregnantstomach2

After giving birth to little M, my body continued its metamorphosis as my breasts swelled with milk (so that is what I would look like with implants!) while my uterus slowly shrank back to its original size.  As the weeks continued on, I was able to fit back into my old pre-pregnancy jeans and my little postpartum tummy gave way to a flattish, slightly squishy looking stomach.

My focus, especially during the first couple of months was to build an ample milk supply.  I accomplished this by nursing on demand, keeping my baby close to me, eating well and drinking plenty of water.  I felt no rush to return to my fitness class, walking in the fresh air with my baby snuggled in the carrier was the perfect form of exercise in those early weeks.  I think it also helped that I saw the first year as a grace period for my body.  Looking back in my journal, I see that I returned to my post-natal fitness class when little M was two months old.

8 Months Post Pregnancy

8 Months Post Pregnancy

Then, just prior to a year my body was “back to normal,” which had a lot to do with: breastfeeding and babywearing, a little circuit training (when I had/have time), some jogging and a wholesome diet.  I am still not at my peak fitness level, but that will come in time, besides I am still breastfeeding.

In each of our own [pre or post baby body] journeys I think it is important to take time to think about or meditate on the beauty and  miracle of birth.  By doing so, one can help cultivate a healthy attitude and respect towards one’s own body and essentially life itself.

In truth, I like the changes that have happened to my body because they remind me that I have carried life.  When I see my drooped belly button I remember my pregnancy, little M’s birth and what this has meant to me.  And in the two to three months that followed giving birth, I saw my postpartum bump as a sweet reminder of my rebirth as a mother.  Whether you have stretch marks, loose skin or not, I hope that all mothers reading this, will appreciate what an honour it truly is.

Blessingways & Community

blessingway1Certain things are inherent in human nature, like the need to acknowledge and honour many of life’s changes that occur throughout our journey.  Some of these major rites of passage include: coming of age, marriage, and pregnancy to name a few.  However, in contemporary western culture we have lost many of the traditions or rituals that have previously marked and helped us navigate many of these changes.  A fundamental need to acknowledge these events is highly important as it helps us prepare for the next step or come to terms with change and also create or deepen a sense of community.  One way of helping a mother-to-be prepare for her journey into motherhood is to hold a Blessingway.  A Blessingway is a ceremony or ritual held to honour the mother-to-be in order to give her support which can help her prepare both emotionally and mentally for the labour and birth of a new child.

Since becoming more familiar with the notion of Blessingways and what it symbolizes, I realize what a wonderful event it is for not only the new mother but also the seasoned mother.  I found Shari Maser’s  Blessingways: A Guide to Mother-centered Baby showers  to be an excellent comprehensive guide for all mothers-to-be, and I particularly like that she expanded on the idea of community through the voices of other mothers who have also had a Blessingway.  For example, one mother writes “Becoming a mother used to be a community event, but now it’s not.  It’s very isolating, especially for stay-at-home moms.  The nurturing and ritual of a Blessingway can really bring a Woman’s community together to help her through this transition time   Women need that.”  (page 187) This statement really encapsulates why Blessingways are, in my opinion, a much-needed tradition in our culture.

The actual ritual of the Blessingway will vary as the ceremony is uniquely tailored to suit the personality, religion(or not) and energy of the mother-to-be.  Many common practices incorporated into a Blessingway include: painting the expectant mother’s belly with henna, bathing her feet, or my favourite, making a birthing necklace with beads that have been picked specifically for the new mother.  Shari Maser also writes “…the necklace you make will serve as a tangible reminder to the mother-to-be that she has a strong circle of support made up of many people who love her and her baby.  It is also a reminder that there is beauty in birth and that every birth, like every necklace, is unique.” (page 89).

Another beautiful practice commonly done at a Blessingway is the tying of yarn or floss from one roll of thread or ball of yarn which is then worn around each individuals’ wrist. During the Blessingway this is usually done in a circle, and before the string is cut, the women are all connected by this one strand around each of their wrists. This symbolizes (amongst other things) their connection to each other through the-mother-to-be which the Blessingway is being held for. The string will act as reminder of the mother-to-be and also symbolizes their support for her. The string is worn then later cut once the baby is [safely] born or when the mother is feeling more confident in her mothering skills during the postpartum period.

There are many ways to honour the mother-to-be, from artwork to poetry and even song.  The point is to draw upon the symbolic and be mindful of how the activities of the Blessingway will reinforce the meaning and ritual for the specific mother-to-be.  Normally, all the details are planned in advance by the host of the Blessingway to ensure a certain flow.

In essence, the Blessingway is a wonderful, empowering and even a healing experience that can bring together a community of women. The ritual also helps solidify the love and support for the expectant mother while building friendships between the women present at the Blessingway.  The wonderful thing about a Blessingway is that it helps to bridge the gap between one’s old life and new identity as a mother.  Also, having other women there for you that have walked or are walking this journey of motherhood is equally reassuring.  And not to mention that on a more practical level, the Blessingway can easily allow for one’s friends to coordinate postpartum meals because ultimately, it is community which helps us through this wonderful and sometimes challenging  journey that we call life.

Another excellent resource on Blessingways  is”Mother Rising,”  (co-written by Yana Cortlund, Barb Luke & Donna Miller Watelet). This book is written from a more pagan perspective and has some wonderful photos taken from an actual Blessingway.  Both books mentioned are excellent resources if you are interested in learning more or planning a Blessingway (Here are some more ideas found on Pinterest).

*Photo courtesy of Stefani and photographed by Denise Jolley

Home birth Part 2: Born in the Caul

I should probably preface this story with I swore I would never get induced, so at 41 weeks I continued to drink my raspberry leaf tea and started looking into acupuncture.  After a second session of acupuncture, I lost my mucous plug  but was still feeling the pressure to get induced from the hospital staff during a routine stress test even though everything checked out okay.  I chose instead to take some more herbal tinctures recommended by my midwife, but after breaking out into a rash two days shy of  42 weeks I had a moment of weakness and agreed to be scheduled for a round of Cervidil* as long as I could go home afterwards, in order to have my planned home birth.

In retrospect I wish I had not had the induction, as I feel in my heart he would have been born a few days later.  After a second round of Cervidil,  my sister and I headed back to my home where by this point  my contractions were getting more intense.  My sister who had been timing my contractions was now on the phone with the midwife who suggested I get into the shower to determine if the contractions were actually getting serious.  Once in the shower, the contractions were indeed getting stronger and closer together.  By this point I wanted to get out of the shower.  I was supposed to stay in the shower for twenty minutes but my sister “tricked me” by saying I had only five more minutes to go, when I actually had ten.  I moaned that she had tricked me, then suddenly I needed to throw up! With the water still running, I jumped out of the shower and threw up my entire breakfast into the toilet.  My sister laid a towel over my back and called the midwives to come; I knew I had transitioned.

I put my blue dress back on and walked around the house between contractions, every time a contraction mounted I found myself squatting and pulling on whatever I could find whether it was the edge of the couch or the kitchen towel rack. I was also very verbal, I must have loudly proclaimed “this hurts” what felt like a hundred times over; said more like a release than a complaint. When the midwife arrived, she checked me to make sure I was fully dilated before removing the Cervidil which by that point I was begging for her to take out.  My body was already starting to bear down, a force of its own, so intense that I felt as if my body would rip apart.  I knew it would not, and I continued to trust the process as I mentally held onto the proverbial speeding train that was my labour.

By this time, my two friends who were acting as my doulas had also arrived, the second midwife was still on her way.  As my midwife set up her “work station,” she suggested I labour in the tub and asked my sister to pour water over my belly, (hydro therapy had been on my birth plan as a way to cope with contractions) but I disliked this very much.  It seems that most women find water relaxing during labour but not me.  All I wanted to do was squat and pull down as hard as I could, so out of the water I came.

Next, I found myself kneeling and squatting on my bed without my blue dress on as I was starting to sweat.  At this point my body gave me a break and the contractions became more manageable.  I moaned and swayed my hips between each wave.  Then I started pushing, actually engaging my core, I only pushed when it felt necessary and just listened to my body.  At one point the midwife asked if I wanted to feel my baby’s head, but I said “no, I can’t” because I thought if I touched his head, all my progress would go backwards, I needed to concentrate.  The only thing my midwife told me to do was to use my voice to help push, other than that she let me be.  I could hear when people talked but was too focused on what I was doing to say anything.  I think I remember someone asking “what is that?”  and hearing the midwife explain that my water had not yet broken, that the bag of water was emerging first like a balloon with the baby still inside of it. Later the midwife told me this was called being born in the caul and was considered lucky.

I was starting to get tired of the position I had been in, so one of my friends helped support me by allowing me to hold on to her while I squatted and pushed. Soon I felt the ring of fire but it was not as intense as I thought it would be; it made me think of an elastic band being pulled very tightly, when I pushed out his head the sensation did surprise me however. Next, I think I may have pushed once more and his body came out, with the midwife quickly catching  him and asking me to sit up as I was still on my hands and knees. She placed my baby on my chest (he had a very long cord) while exclaiming “here is your baby!”

I could not believe I was finally holding my baby, and as he lay on my chest I remember thinking “so this is what you look like.”  Welcome to the world little M!

*I do not recommend getting an unnecessary induction as it makes labour unnaturally more intense and can lead to complications including a cesarean.  Here are some great tips to help with avoiding an unnecessary induction.

**Here is a wonderful image of a baby who was born in the caul.