This is a really important question. The answer is what drives me, my business, and everything about it. It’s why I became a certified HypnoBirthing practitioner and breastfeeding educator. Simply put, I am convinced that:
So what does a best beginning look like?
First of all, let’s make one thing clear — there is no one, perfect best beginning. Birth is not a one-size-fits-all event, despite the way it is handled by many health care professionals. The truth is, every baby and family’s best beginning is going to look different from everyone else’s because every baby and family is different, having different needs and circumstances. “Different” can still be “best,” whether it’s a home birth or planned c-section. However, all best beginnings have three things in common:
1.) Respect for everyone involved
2.) An atmosphere of love, calm, and peace
3.) Confidence in oneself and one’s decisions
Let’s unpack this, one point at a time, though they overlap and support each other.
1.) Respect for everyone involved.
The mother is not just a patient. The baby is not just a fetus or neonate. And the family is not just a hapless group of bystanders underfoot. Every mother is an individual woman with hopes, fears, and dreams. She is a human being who deserves to be respected, heard, and supported. After all, it’s her body and she should have the final say over what happens to her.
The baby, though yet unborn, is a fully-developed person, capable of feeling just as much as we can. We are just now beginning to understand how much the pre- and perinatal experience can affect the baby, both physically and psychologically, and leave an imprint that can last for years. Baby’s emotional and physical well-being deserves to be respected above convenience and arbitrary procedure.
Finally, the family is an integral part of the birthing group. HypnoBirthing involves and prepares the mother’s birth companion in an active, pivotal role. It is outright disrespectful to disregard the woman’s birth companion and family, be they her partner, sister, mother, or others. For one thing, these people are emotionally attached to mother and baby and, as such, have a right to be included. For another, they are the mother’s support group. She relies on them as encouragers, comforters, and advocates. They can support her best if they are included and involved in the process.
2.) An atmosphere of love, calm, and peace.
Fear has no place in the birth of a child. Nobody likes to feel afraid and nobody benefits from feeling afraid. It can cause the mother’s body to stall or even stop labor. It can distress the baby, causing the dreaded fluctuations in heartbeat and release of meconium. In order for the mother to focus on birthing her baby, she needs to feel safe. She needs to feel comfortable and secure. She needs to relax. HypnoBirthing teaches both mother and birth companion to do just that–relax and trust. The exercises change their mindsets from fear to trust and teach them how to use their minds and bodies to remain in that relaxed, peaceful state, regardless of what might arise. Even so, the mother’s environment and the way she is treated can have a direct impact on whether or not she can do this.
Moreover, every child deserves to be welcomed into an atmosphere of safety and calm. Remember, the child has never known a world outside of its mother. Everything is foreign and overwhelming–bright lights, loud sounds, sudden touches with a strength never felt before. Most procedures can wait until the family has had a chance to bond and the child to get more accustomed to the outside world. Will there be times when circumstances necessitate urgent care? Yes, of course… but this is more the exception than the rule. Even in emergency situations, the family deserves an atmosphere of calm competence, not of fear.
3.) Confidence in oneself and one’s decisions.
I have heard countless traumatic birth stories in which parents regretted their choices because they weren’t aware of other options or of possible adverse outcomes from a procedure. Sadly, many parents don’t understand that they have the right to ask questions, decline interventions, and withhold their informed consent. Parents need to be educated on possible events or outcomes before the birth so that they can make decisions based on facts and not on fear. They should have the confidence and the knowledge to respectfully question healthcare professionals and to expect a respectful, complete response in return. Then, if they are feeling pressured to do something or things don’t go according to plan, they are fully prepared to make informed choices and act on them. They can be confident that, considering the circumstances, they made the best decisions.
This is why we place so much emphasis on education in HypnoBirthing. It’s why we encourage parents to do the research and ask the hard questions to determine what matters most to them and what they want from their birth experience. It’s why we role play and provide prompts and scripts so that they are prepared to advocate for their preferences, if necessary.
Bringing it all together
(Update: I’ve gone into more detail on this in this post.)
I’m sure you can see how these commonalities overlap. Respect for the family is foundational for all three. Once that respect is established and maintained, the calm atmosphere and confidence easily follow. Moreover, once a mother and her family reach that peaceful place and can eliminate fear, birth more often than not plays out without need for intervention.
Unfortunately, this birthright of a best beginning is often ignored, forgotten, or just unknown. And that’s why I established Birthright Initiative—to remind women and their families of their birthright and to empower them to become active participants in ensuring their own best beginning with their baby. This is done primarily through HypnoBirthing classes. To extend that best beginning, I also provide breastfeeding support as well as guidance and reviews of parenting resources.
I hope this gave you some insight into who I am and what I do. If you would like more information or would like to sign up for a HypnoBirthing® class, I would be happy to hear from you. I would love the honor of coming alongside you and your family in working toward your own best beginning.
What do you think is necessary for a best beginning? Do you think it’s a birthright? Leave me a comment and let me know!