(With Karlye McNeeley, R.N., Hypnobirthing Childbirth Educator & Doula)
If you’re not sure what hypnobirthing is (you might even be leery) & you’ve decided on a natural birth- this is the interview for you. We get down to business on what Hypnobirthing is all about. Karlye McNeeley is an R.N., Doula & Hypnobirthing practitioner. She shares very candidly about hypnobirthing- what it is, how it prepares women/couples for childbirth & explains what hypnosis is (which may be different than what you think).
You’ll Also Learn:
- What hypnobirthing can do for you during labor.
- The tools of a hypnobirthing mama, and why they’re important.
- Why it’s important to start preparing for childbirth, EARLY in your pregnancy and how that can make a difference in your experience.
- How Hypnobirthing is different from other childbirth classes.
Who is Karlye McNeeley?
Karlye McNeeley is a registered nurse, mama of 3, professional labor companion doula & has been a hypnobirthing practitioner for the past 8 years. Karlye is passionate about helping couples bring their babies into the world in their own ‘best way’. She teaches Hypnobirthing childbirth classes in Western Michigan. Links mentioned: http://www.innerpeacebirthing.com & http://www.hypnobirthing.com/
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Who else is wondering what Hypnobirthing really is? -with Karlye McNeeley R.N.
Sarah: Hey, this is Sarah Blight with Your Baby Booty interviews where we chat with real people who’ve had real experiences so that you can have real takeaways to apply as you go on your journey to the motherland and become a mom.
So are you planning on taking childbirth classes to prepare you as you go into labor and have childbirth? Well, if so, you’re probably wondering what is the right class for you, and there are quiet a few options. Well today, we are chatting with a hypnobirthing practitioner. She’s a registered nurse as well as a mom of three kids, and she’s a labor companion. She helps people as they’re going through labor, a doula, and her name is Karlye. So thanks Karlye for being here today.
Karlye: Thank you for having me.
Sarah: So tell us what is hypnobirthing?
Karlye: Well, hypnobirthing is a complete natural childbirth class. It is – I like to tell couples that it is more a philosophy than it is necessarily a method. Hypnobirthing believes that childbirth is natural; that it’s normal; that it’s healthy; that it’s not about doctors, nurses, hospitals, childbirth educators; that birth is a life experience; and that if moms can understand that they are birthing bodies, and understand what’s taking place during birth, and understand how their belief in birth and how they feel about birth can actually have an impact with their birthing experience then they can learn how to sort of relax and trust their birthing bodies to be able to do what they were created to be able to do.
So hypnobirthing, it just helps couples to understand childbirth. It gives them tools through relaxation and self-hypnosis to really be able to have the birth that they desire and that they want, and they can bring their babies into the world in a much calmer, more comfortable fashion, which is better for moms, dads, and babies.
Sarah: Yeah, okay. Now, the word hypnobirthing, obviously, you mentioned hypnosis, and I think for some people like it kind of throws people off like, you know, I imagine, you know, an Oprah audience, sitting in the audience, you know, getting hypnotized and then waking up and not remembering anything that happened and being totally out of it. So can you clear up for us what hypnosis is and how that is used in this birthing approach?
Karlye: Sure. Well, I think the first thing that people really need to understand is that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. And so although you might have someone who’s facilitating a relaxation and facilitating the hypnosis, it is truly it needs to be a willingness of both parties, mom and dad or whoever is involved to be able to have hypnosis work. They need to trust and they need to be willing to let them go, let themselves go into a state of relaxation.
Karlye: It’s actually a very normal state that we are in and out of all the time. It’s focused concentration.
Karlye: So we can actually say that we’re on hypnosis when we were watching the television. Television is actually a very strong form of hypnosis. It is – We are – There is what’s called highway hypnosis. If anyone ever has experienced the time where they’ve gotten from point A to point B, but they really don’t – They don’t really remember the journey in between, but you were able to get there safely…
Karlye: …it’s a form of hypnosis.
Karlye: Reading books, staring in a fire, prayer, meditation. This is all forms of hypnosis. Now we use hypnosis in childbirth to help women to be able to bring themselves into a deep state of relaxation so that their body is able to function and then do again, what it was created to do.
Karlye: And we also use hypnosis in hypnobirthing to help change that paradigm of birth…
Karlye: …at a deeper level. It’s a way of being able to sort of bypass that conscious mind to be able to reach the subconscious, which really houses our beliefs and our fears about our life experience…
Sarah: Uh-huh. Because I do think it’s very widely talked about. The fear is like the number one obstacle when you’re in labor, and you know, it’s something that really can prohibit you from obviously relaxing, but then also from progressing in your labor. So it seems like relaxation is the key to that. And so you guys use, you know, and facilitate the hypnosis. So what you’re saying is just being focused and concentrating, right?
Karlye: It’s focused concentration and deep relaxation.
Sarah: Cool. So it doesn’t sound – So just to make sure. If you are using the hypnobirthing methods, you’ll remember your birth.
Karlye: In fact, you’re more in-tuned with your birth experience. I’ve had the benefit of having three births, two of which I used hypnobirthing. So I’m able to draw from personal experience, which really helps when I’m teaching couples. And I can tell you from personal experience that I was more in-tuned with what my body was doing while using this method, while having this understanding than I was my first time around. Oftentimes, when people see women who are using the hypnobirthing method, it looks like they’re sleeping.
Karlye: It looks like they’re resting comfortably. It’s very common for nurses, doctors, whoever is in the room with a mom to not even know when she’s actually even having a surge because she’s just so within to her body and her baby, and she’s just working beautifully with what’s going on within her that to the outside world, it almost just looks like she’s sleeping.
Karlye: So I think that gives the misconception that it looks like mom, they’re sort of out of it and sort of disconnected when in fact, it’s the opposite that is true. They’re completely connected.
Sarah: Okay, so now I’m going to refer to my personal experience because I was kind of more verbal. I was more on the verbal side. I did not use hypnobirthing with my first.
Sarah: What about those people because I’m kind of thinking like if I took hypnobirthing, if I did that, I would probably be one of this like more verbal people. I don’t think at any point you would think that I was unless it’s really a miracle working like total relaxation, but is it kind of for the verbal people too who kind of are a little bit more need to verbalize, you know, their feelings?
Karlye: Absolutely, and you know, and we talked about how noise is not necessarily a bad thing.
Karlye: There are different kinds of noises, a low moan or a groan. That’s going to be helpful in relaxation versus a high-pitched scream.
Karlye: That’s a little bit different.
Karlye: You know, if you’re talking specifically about actually talking and communicating and saying words, it’s truly up to the individual mom.
Karlye: Everyone is going to be different and everyone is going to experience their birth in a different way, but typically, you see that when moms are working with their surges, they tend to get quiet unless they are doing more visceral type noises and more of the groans and the moans, which is beneficial and it’s helpful and it’s certainly not discouraged.
Karlye: It’s about just helping moms to trust their bodies and just sort of go with the flow of whatever is happening in that moment.
Sarah: Okay. So let’s just say for the purposes of our example here that we are in a hospital, and we’re walking into the room of a pregnant woman who’s in active labor, what would we see if she was a hypnobirthing – she’s using the hypnobirthing methods? What might we see if we walk into her room?
Karlye: Uh-huh. Well, it certainly depends on the mom.
Karlye: And so you might see a mom that is sitting up, standing up.
Karlye: We definitely know we encourage moms to just assume whatever position feels for them at the time.
Karlye: And so moms can be an all different sorts of positions. Then you’re probably going to – You’re going to walk into – Quite honestly, you’re going to walk into a room that feels very, very relaxed.
Karlye: The lights are going to be dimmed. There’s probably going to either be soft music playing, maybe even some affirmations that will be going in the background that hynobirthing moms use to practice with daily. That might even be going under the background. There might be some aroma therapy. You might see dad standing by mom doing light-touch massage and just quietly encouraging her in loving ways, and you’ll see a mom who’s relaxed.
Sarah: Uh-huh. Okay.
Karlye: It’s a very pleasant room to walk into.
Sarah: I’m getting relaxed as you’re talking. I’m feeling like that sounds like a room I want to go to right now.
Sarah: That sounds really nice. Okay, let’s go back to the CD for a second because you cut out just a little bit as you were talking. Tell us more about that because I know that is something that accompanies the hynobirthing classes that you get the CD. What is that music or what’s kind of the magic to that music?
Karlye: The rainbow of relaxation is actually the cornerstone of hypnobirhting in that it’s a relaxation visualization hypnotic CD that couples practice with daily, and what it does is it conditions mom to relaxation, to relaxing her mind, relaxing her body, and it basically gives suggestions of trust that, you know, her body knows what to do, and that she can trust the process, and that she can release and let go, and so it trains her mind and body for relaxation so that when the time of birthing comes, she can easily and effortlessly go in and out as she pleases into the state of relaxation.
Sarah: Okay, because that’s really interesting that you say that because I was doing some research, and there were actually patterns. It shows it in your brain. When you practice something, your brain basically goes back to that place saying oh, I’ve done this before. It’s not a big deal. I can just relax.
Sarah: And so that makes a lot of sense if you have been practicing with this CD and listening to it, and really being accustomed to relaxation and listening to it. It makes sense that when it’s game time, your body is going to say hey, I’ve been here before I’ve done this. It’s not a big deal. Relax.
Karlye: Exactly. It’s that conditioned response.
Karlye: It’s like Pavlov’s dogs.
Karlye: I use that example a lot in my classes. Hypnobirthing is truly meant to be easy. What we give, we give couple a lot. We give couples lots of different ways in which they can practice and prepare so that come the time of birthing, they do have tools that will bring them right back to that place of relaxation that they’ve been practicing for, for however many months they’ve been preparing, which I think brings up a good point…
Karlye: …of what you just said is that really with hypnobirthing, I love to have couples who contact me in their second trimester.
Karlye: Although you can prepare at any time in your pregnancy, having more time to really be able to change your paradigm of birth, to really understand your birthing body, and to trust the process, to feel really empowered and free of fear, and to be able to work with these relaxation techniques so that by the time you get to your birthing day, you do sort of effortlessly flow into that natural state of relaxation that you’re conditioning your body to go into over the months.
Sarah: Yeah, because isn’t it fascinating that we live in a society that really encourages, you know, competition and training and sports and stuff like that, and you know, I never met anyone who’s done a marathon who hasn’t trained for it, and so, you know, while our bodies don’t need the training, our minds do…
Sarah: And so that’s a really interesting point that the earlier you can start the better because it’s only going to help you in the end.
Karlye: That’s right, and you think about the culture that we live in, and you know, the pictures that are depicted of birth generally evoke fear, you know.
Karlye: You know, well-intentioned friends, care providers. We’re generally surrounded by things that make us fearful of birth, and so just like you said, our bodies know how to do this. I’m not teaching women how to give birth…
Karlye: …because their bodies already know how to do that.
Karlye: What I’m doing is I’m helping them understand what their bodies are doing and then helping to free them of the fear and learn the relaxation so that then come the day of birthing they trust their bodies enough to just sort of release and let go, and let their bodies take over and do the job.
Karlye: And that takes time.
Karlye: And that takes time.
Sarah: So for those women who are watching, who are kind of researching other classes, what makes hypnobirthing so different?
Karlye: Well I can’t really speak for the other classes because I don’t teach the other classes.
Karlye: But I think, you know, what I love about hypnobirthing is that it really hits on mind, body, and spirit.
Karlye: It’s kind of hits on the whole package.
Karlye: I really think that hypnobirthing is grounded and a good science in that, you know, we know what happens physiologically. We know it happens physiologically during birth, and we know it happens physiologically when there is fear and anxiety present, and then how that can impact a woman’s birthing experience. And so through that, we can help – again, help women to understand, and then through understanding that frees them of the fear so that they can then go on to use the tools that they learned with the relaxation to be able to have beautiful birthing experiences.
So I think that what makes hypnobirthing great is that we’re really addressing sort of the whole picture, whole aspects. It’s a very holistic approach in that we know what happens physically, but now, let’s look at what’s happening mentally and spiritually because, you know, birth is a life-changing experience on many, many different levels for the moms, for dads, and for the babies.
Sarah: Yes, that’s true. What about women who may not want to have an unmedicated natural birth? Is hypnobirthing still helpful for them?
Karlye: Well absolutely because they still go into their birthing feeling calm, confident, and empowered. And even if they were to choose to have medications, I think the medications are more effective when they’re going into a woman’s body who’s relaxed.
Karlye: If you’re relaxed, and if you’re calm, and if you’re confident then nothing is going to be fighting. There are no stressor hormones. There is, you know, no fight or flight response that is taking place…
Karlye: …that is going to be inhibiting anything that they might want to do. And so that’s going to be beneficial rather, you know, you choose to have medications. It’s still going to make for a smoother birthing experience, and your baby isn’t being exposed. You know, when we’re releasing stressor hormones, our babies also feel the effects of those stressor hormones.
Karlye: And so the same is true in pregnancy, labor, and in birth, and so, if women can put themselves in a place where they are able to live in a state of peace and calm then their baby’s in a place where they can be living and developing in a state of peace and calm, and that’s going to carry through into whatever kind of birthing experience they desire or they want.
Karlye: And the same goes for mom who knows that she’s going to have a planned cesarean.
Karlye: We find that calm relaxed moms have much better recovery times after their cesarean sections, again, because their bodies are more capable of doing what’s needed to be done in order to be able to heal and get back to a normal state.
Sarah: That’s good. I like that. So as a kind of our last question, it sounds like you’ve kind of already answered, but I’ll go back anyway.
Sarah: Who is your, you know, your hypnobirthing student? Who is that woman? Is that a woman who wants what?
Karlye: It’s a woman who wants to have an empowered experience.
Karlye: It’s a woman who wants to take control of the destiny of her baby’s birth essentially. It’s not necessarily a woman who wants to have an all-natural birth. It could be any woman.
Karlye: Yeah. That’s…
Sarah: Yeah, that’s cool.
Sarah: Well, I want to thank you for sharing – I want to hear what the mamas who are watching if any of you guys have been to hypnobirthing or had experiences with hypnobirthing what are your experiences? I’d love for you to share them below in this interview in the comment section. I want to thank Karlye for sharing her passion and her love for birth, and for really helping moms prepare for childbirth, and for sharing her knowledge about hypnobirthing with us. I will include all of Karlye’s info at the bottom of this interview as well, so if you want to contact her, you’re more than welcome to. If you live in the greater Grand Rapids Michigan area, Karlye I’m sure has classes going on, and she would love to teach you guys. Thanks for watching and we will see you guys next time.