“My dream is that every woman, everywhere, will know the joy of a truly safe, comfortable and satisfying birthing for herself and her baby.”
Marie F. Mongan, founder of The HypnoBirthing Institute, and author of HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method
For the next few installments, I’d like to introduce HypnoBirthing. To do that, though, we’ll need to start with a story. Growing up, Marie Mongan heard many stories about how painful birth was, especially her own birth. In June of 1954, when she was twenty-one, she graduated from a small teaching college in Plymouth, New Hampshire. She was married a week later, started her teaching career, and seven months later surprisingly found out she was pregnant with her first child. Shocked at first, she soon became quite exhilarated about having a baby.
Marie decided this was not going to be a “usual pregnancy,” with all the complaints such as an aching back and swollen feet. Furthermore she decided her birthing experience would not be one of drugged compliance or being able to recall the experience. She could not accept that birth had to be a painful ordeal. Having many questions. “Why,” she asked, “are the two sets of muscles of the uterus the only muscles that do not perform well under normal conditions, and why are lesser animals blessed with smooth, easy birthing while we, the very highest of creatures, made in the image and likeness of God, destined to suffer?” She also wondered why women in some cultures were able to have gentle, comfortable births? Things just didn’t seem to add up.
As she began her research, reading everything she could get her hands on to support her belief that pain is inappropriate in the course of a normal birth, she dismissed most of what she picked up because the focus was on what could go wrong. Remembering an article in Life magazine from when she was in high school about a woman who birthed naturally, she found Dr. Grantly Dick-Read’s book, Childbirth Without Fear, and his method of natural childbirth. She knew immediately that this was the answer. Here she found the concept of baby’s safety and comfort, the idea of having a partner, and the idea of family. It seemed a much more positive way to give birth—eliminating the Fear-Tension-Pain Syndrome.
When she had her baby the hospital staff didn’t seem to have gotten the memo and even though she was completely relaxed and without pain right up to the time the baby crowned, she was treated as all patients, prepped and administered an anesthetic. Nothing liked she planned. Her second birth was the same. The third time around she had a firm talk with her doctor and after some convincing he agreed to be sure all records and staff were specific as to how she would be treated. She went on to say “I’d like my husband to be with me in the labor room and by my side in the delivery room.” A simply outlandish request at a time when husbands were not allowed beyond the lobby. The doctor said, “Oh, come on now you can’t expect me to stick my neck out that far.” She explained if he were not comfortable with her demands that she would seek another provider. After a few moments she was given the answer she wanted: “Why not?” Most likely this was the first “birth plan,” and a first for that hospital.
With arms and legs free, and anesthesia not used she was awake and energized. Her joy was unparalleled. She finally had her fully natural birth with her husband by her side. Maura, her daughter, came into the world safely and without drugs. Everyone there was on a natural high, and Marie’s doctor stayed up until three in the morning, reading everything he had available on Dr. Grantly Dick-Read’s theory of natural childbirth.
Tune in next time as we look more closely at the first HypnoBirthing. Until then have a beautiful day.