If you read my blog or you know me at all, you will know that my son was born under extreme circumstances that resulted in an emergency C-Section. Like many women, I had this dream of a perfect birth. A natural birth where my child slips straight through the birth canal and with the perfectly curated sound track playing in the background, my husband and I smile at each other and glow in the bliss of our newborn. Life however had other plans. For many many many women this is reality – babies are not born how we tell them to and sometimes, surgery is life saving for both the mother and the baby.
In many cases, women elect to have C-Sections or their birthing teams or doctors encourage them to schedule them for a convenient date.
More than two in three South African mothers in private hospitals give birth by caesarean section, way above the international average, research has shown.
Experts estimate that in wealthy areas 80% choose to have a caesarean, and in some hospitals in Cape Town the rate exceeds 90%, despite the cost being higher than the fee for a natural birth. The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises a maximum of 15% caesareans per country. [Source]
I am not judgemental of any type of birth. To me, what matters is that both the mother and child are safe because in my own experience, childbirth is a lot riskier than we think. However, while doing this series, Tracey said she’d like to participate and I was freaking thrilled.
Recently, a friend told me the story of her struggle to have a natural birth. She fought to be able to deliver her own baby naturally. Decisions were being made by everyone around her about how she should have her baby and eventually, she had her gorgeous son in her home. Everything was perfect. But it was certainly NOT encouraged and she really had to fight for it.
It was this story that really made me excited about introducing you to Tracey, an incredible woman and a wonderful mother who helps women have natural births. I had never heard of a HypnoBirthing Facilitator before and I hope that you can learn more about this incredible role.
Meet Tracey: What it’s really like being a HypnoBirthing Facilitator.
What is your job / what field are you in?
Well, my full-time career is Software Application Architecture, but my passion “project” role is actually HypnoBirthing Facilitator. Yes, I know, they are worlds apart. And that’s ok – my interests in this life have a very broad spectrum. And this particular passion of mine is for birth and empowering moms and dads in order to approach their baby’s birth with confidence and joy.
HypnoBirthing® teaches you to reach a deep state of relaxation using self-hypnosis, a state most people experience at some point every day whilst daydreaming, reading or watching TV.
HypnoBirthing® relaxation allows you to remove unnecessary fear, and where there is no fear, there is no tension, allowing your body to function as it is perfectly designed to do in childbirth.
Do you need a qualification for it? If yes, what and how long does it take?
Yes, you need to write the exams to be certified with the international HypnoBirthing Institute (Mongan Method), and then get Internationally listed as a registered HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator (HBCE). The course is quite condensed into a short period of time, but it is intense, as one module covers biology and physiology of birth (which really goes into the true mechanics of it all), the other module is on a psychological level, as you cover the science behind hypnosis. And then the last and all-encompassing module is about HypnoBirthing itself, which marries the two and how. This course is only open to either birth professionals or those with a studied background in hypnosis. However, exceptions are made for HypnoBirthing Mothers, who lived out these studies through their own HypnoBirth experiences, and thus have first hand understanding and knowledge of these principles. You then also have a limited period of time from the time of course completion till the time you’re allowed to write the exams.
How did you get into it?
I have had three amazing and joyous birth experiences with all three of my girlies. The first one being an exceptionally joyous experience filled laughter all day, music and jokes throughout those 25 hours. I had birthed our daughter drug and intervention free with a smile on my face. And it truly was an incredible and eye-opening experience for me.
However, in the lead up to this birth and in my research of birth – because I’m THAT nerd burger who researches these kind of things – I had come across videos of women who were so relaxed throughout their labour that they fell asleep, and then casually gave birth. Others just peacefully chilling on a chair throughout labour and then only moving once baby was ready to make her debut. These images were stuck in my head. So even though I had had a very positive and empowering first birth, I couldn’t get these images out of my head and I wanted to know how they did it. I wanted to do it too!
I discovered that they had all used HypnoBirthing techniques. So the very next time I fell preggers, I signed up for a HypnoBirthing class and never looked back. With these new-found tools and understanding, I once more had a natural, drug and intervention free birth with my second. Except this time it was quieter, more peaceful because I napped a lot throughout labour! Yes, I could actually NAP whilst in active labour. And even though she was born with a nuchal hand, it was easy, comfortable and there was zero tearing (there are actually photos of me chatting to my hubby and smiling during crowning) – which I attribute to the HypnoBirthing techniques I had learnt, which had taught me to relax and trust that my body knows what to do. Having a birth team who understood these HypnoBirthing techniques and principles and who also trusted my body helped hugely.
And now, more recently, with my third child, the experience was once more different but still so positive, empowered and wonderful. The golden thread about all three of these experiences came down to the fact that I felt empowered, respected and comfortable and free throughout my birth. It didn’t matter whether I was in the hospital or at home, it was how much my birth space was being honoured and respected that made the difference.
Our experience with HypnoBirthing was so incredible that I knew I wanted to train as a HypnoBirthing practitioner to share and spread this knowledge with as many mothers out there as possible.
“The point of Hypnobirthing is not birthing without pain. The point is to birth with LOVE and CONFIDENCE, without FEAR, without unnecessary INTERVENTION, and with a supportive team who shares your birth vision. That is the definition of a successful hypno-birth. The wonderful side-effect of this type of gentle, mother-centered, empowered birth is more pleasure and less pain.” – Lauralyn Curtis HBCE
How long have you been doing this?
Officially less than a year, but have been quietly spreading this message and information since 2014 through my blog, The Milk Memoirs.
Do you remember when you first started? Tell us a bit about that.
I’m still only just starting, so yes, it’s exciting! I am so excited about being able to pass these gems of information along. For the techniques you learn here have the ability to be applied throughout life, not just in birth.
Do you work for yourself or for a company or organisation?
I work under the umbrella of Kim Young’s Beautifully Born – the original and first branch of HypnoBirthing in our country- but you essentially work for yourself, governed by the best practices of the international body.
What’s an average day like for you at work?
It’s not really average day, as this would be more of a weekend job for me. But essentially, I always ensure I’m familiar with the day’s curriculum. I am very well versed in the content, both in the textbook variety and in the experience, but as with any job I do, I like to revise and ensure I’m on top of the facts and content.
I would also ensure that all materials are ready to go. I like baking and home-baked goods, as I’ve learnt from my Kim, always adds a nice touch, so I would make sure I have some delicious snacks ready for the lovely preggo moms and the doting dads/birth partners throughout the day. I would set up the class area to ensure it’s comfy, especially for the mothers. The course I offer is over a few weeks, and it’s one class a week, with each class being 2.5 hours long.
It’s once the entire course is completed that a lot more paperwork comes in with reporting back to the international body, as well as the follow-up with the moms and dads post the birth.
What has been the most memorable moment for you in your career?
It’s too early to say, but right now, I am just so pleased with making the jump towards actually making this a reality to find a way of helping mothers out there find empowerment and power through knowledge and being in a space to make more informed decisions about their body and their child.
What moment would you like to forget?
Right now, thankfully it’s also too early to have had negative experiences. I think the only thing I that was unpleasant in this journey, would be the loss of our baby in utero whilst actually studying a subject matter that is all about babies and birth.
If you could live your life over, would you still do this?
Absolutely! Yes, yes, yes again!
What are some of the biggest challenges about this field?
That you have to remain neutral no matter what. Even if you can see how the mother’s current birth team is not conducive to the outcomes she is trying to accomplish, yours as a facilitator is not to interfere. Yours is to provide the information, the techniques, the guidance and providing helpful frameworks within a mother can base her decisions on, and at very most offer up suggestions if asked. But one cannot be prescriptive no matter how good your intentions are. This course, is after all, about empowering that mother and father towards being confident, informed and enabled enough to be able to make the right decisions for themselves and baby.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to get into this field?
If you are passionate about birth and empowering women, do it! This is not about the money – even though it is a very viable business option – but your passion and belief is what truly enables these moms and dads. Do it also because the world needs more voices shouting out the positivity and amazingness that is birth. There are far too many that talk about all the negative aspects, and induce horror and anxiety about a subject that has become so shrouded in a dark cloud of fear that few are open to the reality that it can actually be joyous and comfortable. ( some even say pain-free!) 😉 We need more voices of positivity.
Contact Kim Young if you’re interested in becoming certified. She is the South African Contact for the international body. http://www.beautifullybo
Hey there, lovelies, I’m Tracey Grammer-Porter. A full-time working mom raising three little beasties/women (with Godwillingly more babies to come!) I enjoy occasional long walks to the bathroom to hide away from the kids, drinking litres of coffee to have some semblance of awakeness, and seek thrills by sneaking chocolate past my kids ever so and again.