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Using a doula with no experience with Hypnobabies

(Disclaimer: This is not an official Hypnobabies answer.
This is just from my personal experience as a Hypnobabies Instructor
and working with moms from the Hypnobabies Yahoo Group.)

What if there are no Hypno-Doulas in my area?

Not everyone is lucky enough to live in Orange County, CA where we have a whole network of Hypno-doulas. There are other Hypno-Doulas in the US.

When I had my Hypnobaby I used my friend as a doula and she had never heard of Hypnobabies before, but she was open and interested in learning more. She came to 2 of my Hypnobabies Classes with me. She was AWESOME! So you can certainly find a "normal" doula in your area and see if they are willing to learn more so they can support you appropriately. It is different than supporting a normal birthing mom. But easier in many ways. :)

What should I look for in a doula?

Someone who is truly open to the idea of Hypnosis for Childbirth and able to think outside of her doula box. Susan shares a great example of this.

I had an unexperienced doula attend my first birth. She was amazing. She was so open to learning and borrowed all my scripts to get familiar with them. She read the program and learned everything she could about how to support me most effectively. At the time, there wasn't a doula training manual, so buying it wasn't an issue. I was lucky that my doula was naturally a very positive, upbeat person, so she didn't have to think about speaking to me in the right manner. She would have anyway!

However, as an instructor, I had the exact opposite experience with another doula. I went to a meeting with a couple I was teaching and their doula to help her learn about the program and how to support them. She kept talking about how supportive she was, and how she understood the importance of terminology, etc. But it was very clear to me that she didn't believe what she was saying, she was saying what she needed to say to avoid arguing with her clients. After sitting through a 40 minute discussion of terminology and alternative ways to support a Hypnobabies couple, she turned to them and said. "Normally at this point I give my speech about how birth is the most painful think you will ever experience, but you are strong and healthy and will get through it, because I will be with you every moment helping. But that's not as important for you because you won't be in as much pain as most people, so let's talk about cue words to use if you decide to throw in the towel and get drugs." I had to pick my jaw up off the table. I couldn't believe how clearly she was working to avoid accepting what we were telling her. To my dismay, the couple still used her and had exactly the birthing I feared they would as a result. They did great until she arrived, and then she subtly convinced them that if mom wasn't in pain, she wasn't progressing and turned the birthing around to be all about them relying on her, because her job was to "get them through the trauma" of birth. She told them she would support them, but after 20 years of being a doula , she thought she was saving them from their inexperience by saying that, and then providing them with what she thought would be best for them instead of what they asked for. It absolutely broke my heart, because they were incredibly in tune with eachother and very skilled with their hypnosis tools. That was one of the few instances where I have no doubt they would have done far better without a doula.

So my advice is for you and your husband to listen to more than what she is saying, but how she is saying it. Does she fall into line with using the terminology correctly once she knows it? It's ok if she says, "contraction" once or twice, but if she rolls her eyes or doesn't make a sincere effort after being reminded a couple times, that suggests to me that she isn't interested in giving you the support that you need.

The doula training manual is really, really good. It explains in detail how differently a doula has to approach a couple using hypnosis. She needs to really understand the importance of subtle interactions and conversations. If she is used to saying things like, "I know this is the hardest work you've ever done, but you can do it, and I'm going to get you through it." and stuff like that, she needs to understand why that is detrimental to your experience. She also needs to know that position changes are still great with hypnosis, as with other unmedicated births, but they aren't a pain- coping technique in your case, rather a way to move things along and possibly make relaxation and comfort a little easier to achieve. It will also teach her additional hypnotic approaches to increase comfort and move the birth forward if it's stalled. If she's not willing to absorb the cost of the doula manual, you may want to offer to split the cost with her. That way, it's not a big deal to either one of you. If she still doesn't want it, that doesn't mean you shouldn't choose her, but it is certainly a reason to delve deeper into her acceptance of hypnosis for birth. It's fine for her to see you as a guinea pig of sorts, since she hasn't seen a Hypnobabies birth, but its not ok for her to approach it in a half- hearted way and think, "Well, if it works, maybe I'll take the time to learn more."

I know this is a novel, but I really want to give you some things to think about during your meeting. I wish I could be a fly on the wall (or an instructor in attendance) at the meeting to give you a 3rd party interpretation of what she says. But I'm sure you are very intuitive and will be able to see the truth behind her words, and recognize the signs if she isn't really on-board with supporting your unique needs.

-Susan

In Conclusion

A doula doesn't have to be a trained hypno-doula to be a great match for you. BUT she does need to be open to the idea of Hypnobabies and willing to learn the lingo and change her expectations of birth! A good way to sense this is ask if she is willing to read some of your materials, or even get the Hypno-Doula Workbook !