Case study: My daughter, Poppy’s birth!
Excerpt from Build your Resilience (2012)
Copyright © Donald Robertson, 2012. All rights reserved.
I nearly overlooked this example when writing the chapter [on Applied Relaxation] but… my own daughter was born about eight months ago, using Applied Relaxation. Mandy, my wife, was expecting her first baby and decided to give birth at home without using any medication for pain relief, before, during, or after the delivery – not even a single Paracetamol pill!
The “preparation stage” for giving birth is usually quite long, about nine months! That gives plenty of opportunity to develop relaxation skills by coping with daily hassles, minor pain and discomfort, and anxiety and worry in anticipation of the “big day”. Mandy wanted to experiment with different techniques during her pregnancy and ended up listening quite regularly to an Applied Relaxation CD that I designed for use with my therapy clients, which includes training in the use of a relaxation “cue-word” that she often repeated while mentally-rehearsing the process of childbirth.
Poppy’s birth went well except that Mandy had a “back labour”, which is normally very painful indeed. Mandy did experience some pain but was able to cope with it by using relaxation and breathing coping-skills. She had a “critical point” where she felt quite overwhelmed but I helped her cope by focusing on her breathing and relaxation. She closed her eyes and became very tranquil and deeply engrossed in her internal experiences for a very long time, while we waited for the midwives to arrive. In fact, she barely reacted to the noise they were making as they talked loudly and unpacked their medical gear in our kitchen.
Mandy’s labour was quite short, about six hours, which has been widely-reported as a benefit of relaxation and self-hypnosis in research studies, and is considered better for the mother and baby. Perhaps because her birth was very natural and relaxed, Poppy is a very happy, healthy, and contented baby indeed. I like to think she’s our personal evidence of the merits of Applied Relaxation. There are many, older studies describing positive data from research on similar self-hypnosis techniques for childbirth. I only discovered after Poppy’s birth that back in 2005 a team of researchers in Iran (Bastani, Hidarnia, Kazemnejad, Vafaei, & Kashanian, 2005) had conducted a clinical trial with 110 women that provided clear scientific evidence of a reduction in stress and anxiety following Applied Relaxation training during pregnancy. In fact, they reported reductions of almost 40% in their current anxiety levels following training and their overall stress levels reduced while those of the untrained women increased.