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What Professionals are Saying:

"It was amazing to watch someone labor with seemingly no pain!" - Laurie Perrin, Obstetrician

"This is how all births should be! Calm, focused, relaxed." - Sid Kamrava, Obstetrician

"Absolutely marvelous! I would have never believed it if I had not seen it. My client was so focused and yet so comfortable all through labor, enough to even brush her teeth at 8cms. I will definitely recommend Anne's HypnoBirthing classes to all my clients. Thank you Anne..." - Jill Colin, Certified Professional Midwife

"Wow! Your baby is so much calmer than most of the newborn babies I see. I need to learn more about HypnoBirthing!" - Lee McGarey, Pediatrician

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Teaching through sharing:

At first, Joe and Heather Mayer weren't keen on a reporter/photographer team from the Review-Journal witnessing the birth of their second child.

They viewed the birthing experience as a private affair, "the most spiritual time in a family's life."

The couple eventually decided to share their experience as a way to help others.

"We understand that very few people believe childbirth can be without pain, that such an experience goes against the grain of virtually everything people have been told," Joe Mayer said. "So by allowing you to share our experience with others, maybe they will believe it can be done and maybe we can make a positive difference in the world by giving people another option."

Heather Mayer said, "I want people to see that giving birth doesn't have to be what we're always told, that it's the worst pain you'll ever go through. I've found that through HypnoBirthing techniques that childbirth is the most wonderful thing I've ever been through. You get to embrace your body and realize how wonderful it has been made to bring another life into this world. And by having a child where your husband is actively involved, you become closer than ever before.

"If I give people the option to see it's possible to truly enjoy what should be the most spiritual time of your life, I think that's a good thing."


More News about HypnoBirthing:

HypnoBirthing: Bringing Life Into Focus

Las Vegas Review-Journal Sunday, March 06, 2005 Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal


Family shares natural childbirth technique that uses self-hypnosis

...Inside the Henderson home on Coyote Pass Way, candles light every room. CDs play the soft sounds of violins, oboes, pianos and guitars. Sunflowers adorn the kitchen counter as Heather Mayer prepares pesto pasta, a green salad, raw stuffed peppers with an almond pate, baked brie and fruit, candied almonds and chocolate truffles.

"We're going to have a real birthday party," Heather says, caressing her swollen belly with both hands and smiling at her husband, Joe, and 4-year-old son, Gunnar. Her cream-colored nightgown flows behind her as she walks toward them in the living room.

"You can't have a celebration of life without great food. We're going to have a great time."

It is 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 24. Heather, 29, has already been in labor for more than four hours. In another four hours, she will give birth, without pain and without drugs, in her bathtub.

She will do so through a natural childbirth technique known as HypnoBirthing®, a form of self-hypnosis in which she says she uses relaxation breathing and guided imagery to focus on the "pleasure and creativity" of birthing.

"I used it birthing Gunnar and had no pain at all," says the biology major who delayed going to medical school to have a family. "I felt a little pressure. You condition your mind and body to what you want your contractions to feel like through imagery."

The hypnosis she uses is not the Hollywood version, where a hypnotist swings a pocket watch back and forth and stage whispers: "You're sooooooo sleeeeeepy."

"It is very much like the daydreaming or focusing that occurs when you are really involved in a good film or a good book or staring at a fire," says Marie Mongan, founder of HypnoBirthing, in a phone interview from Arizona. "You're fully relaxed, in control, but you lose track of what's going on around you."

Think of HypnoBirthing®, which she says works as well in a hospital as it does at home, as a method of experiencing in the body what has been determined in the mind. It is not unlike what happens when an athlete with a sprained ankle goes on to play and win by focusing his attention on the game, rather than on the pain and swelling in his ankle...

Though nearly 2,000 practitioners of HypnoBirthing have been trained around the world, including Anne Swanson of Las Vegas, the technique is still very new to the valley, where most women opt for an epidural anesthetic that numbs their lower bodies during childbirth.

"More than 99 percent of the women at Sunrise have epidurals," says Dr. Florence Jameson, the Sunrise Hospital chief of obstetrics. "I've heard of some women trying traditional hypnosis for childbirth, but I've never heard of HypnoBirthing."

Unlike other forms of hypnosis, the subject is able to hypnotize herself, sometimes with prompting from her husband.

At 10 p.m. Heather feels a contraction. They are now about five minutes apart. She sits in a chair and closes her eyes. Gunnar, who is lying on the couch, watches as his dad whispers to his mother, reminding her of a scene she has envisioned every night through the suggestion of a CD:

"Take in a deep breath and now, slowly, allow that breath to drift down through your entire body ... bringing you comfort and relaxation. ... Picture yourself, now, on a mist of green. ... As you breathe in the soft green mist, the entire area of your chest and particularly your heart relax more deeply than you've ever relaxed before. ... Feel your body become even more limp ... so safe and so comfortable."

Since 5 p.m., when her contractions began while she was in a darkened movie theatre watching "Racing Stripes" with Joe and Gunnar, Heather has actively used the imagery. After returning home and when the contractions are 15 minutes apart, Heather calls her midwife, Jill Colin. "I think it will be tonight," she says. She also calls a dozen friends, who promise to light a candle in their homes in honor of the pending birth. "I think this night will be awesome," Heather says repeatedly.

Having the birth at home, Heather said, "is far more spiritual. The baby doesn't come into an environment of harsh lights and sounds and drugs, but into a soothing, loving family environment."

Sandy Holihan, an apprentice midwife, accompanies Jill to the Mayer home. They bring an oxygen tank, a fetal heart rate monitor, a birthing stool, a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope, a hanging sling scale to weigh the baby, instruments for clamping and cutting the cord, a tube for deep suction, herbs for excessive bleeding and a flashlight.

One of Heather's friends, Amy Cole, comes over to help with Gunnar. At 10:15 p.m., Amy puts Gunnar, who has a cold, in his parents' bed. He quickly falls sound asleep.

Five minutes later, Heather and Joe head for the bathtub off the first floor master bedroom. As the water fills the tub, he gently massages her shoulders as she waits.

The contractions are a couple minutes apart as Joe, a 35-year-old golf instructor at Shadow Creek Golf Course, helps his wife into the water.

"They don't feel as intense in water," midwife Jill whispers. "I don't really have to do much because Heather and Joe work so well together."

Joe pours warm water over his wife's belly as she leans back in the tub, spraying a green mist in the air that smells of peppermint to reinforce the green mist visualization as another surge comes.

"I love you so much," he says. "I can't wait to see the new member of our family. You have the most beautiful Buddha belly I have ever seen."

The Buddha comparison makes Heather giggle.

The candles in the bathroom throw a shadow on the wall of Heather and Joe kissing.

At nearly 11 p.m., Heather, who has been eating pasta and fruit to keep up her strength, announces that she wants to brush her teeth.

"They feel gritty," she says, worrying that her breath might smell bad for the baby. Joe gives her the toothbrush in the tub and she brushes vigorously.

She stands up to rinse out her mouth over the sink.

A half-hour later Heather thinks she might be more comfortable in bed. With Joe's assistance, she climbs over the side of the tub, walks to bed and lies down next to Gunnar. Her eyes close during another contraction, and when she opens them she smiles at Joe, who is holding juice for her to drink through a straw.

Twenty minutes pass and the contractions become more intense.

"I want to go back in the tub," she says, grinning.

Midnight passes. The baby will be born on Jan. 25.

Jill listens to the baby with a fetal monitor. The beating heart sounds like a horse galloping. As the midwife leans over the tub, the front of her blouse submerges in the water. "Oh, Lord, now it looks like I'm in a wet T-shirt contest," she says.

Heather's entire body shakes, her belly in particular, with laughter. As her laughter subsides, she carefully rearranges herself to where she's on her hands and knees.

"That's more comfortable," she says.

Jill feels Heather's bulging water bag.

"It's going to break soon," Jill says. "You'll have your baby soon."

"Great," Heather says, a broad smile on her face. She alternates now from being just on her knees to all fours. The contractions come faster and faster.

Jill uses a flashlight to see where the baby is.

"You want one of Gunnar's toys to play with?" Joe asks his wife.

"I'd like a rubber ducky," she says.

Joe sprays more green mist in the air and adds warm water. It's around 1 a.m. Jill listens to the baby's heart again with the fetal monitor. More galloping. Joe pours water on Heather's belly and kisses her forehead. "You are so awesome," he says.

"Having a baby is hard work," Heather says, smiling into a mirror.

"It sure is," Jill replies.

At 1:28 a.m. Heather is breathing hard and loudly: "ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh . ..." "Good job," Jill says, peering at the birth canal with her flashlight. "That last contraction, your water broke. Beautiful job. The baby's trying to get past the pubic bone. Once it gets past there it will be real easy. Can you feel the baby with your hand, Heather?"

"Yes ... ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh."

Out comes the baby into the water. Heather has one hand on the baby's head and supports her weight with the other.

"Oh, look, it's a beautiful baby!" Jill says, guiding the baby out. She unwraps the umbilical cord from around the baby's neck, a common occurrence, before handing her to Joe.

"She's beautiful," Joe says. "It's a girl, honey."

Gunnar, hearing the excitement, walks into the bathroom from his parents' bedroom. So do the Mayers' three cats, Huckleberry, Bath and Vanilla.

"This is so awesome," Heather says, taking the baby from Joe and cradling her on her chest, the cord still attached.

"God, I'm so proud of you, honey," Joe says. "You have a baby sister," Heather tells Gunnar.

"Oh, my precious baby girl," Joe says.

Heather feels like a shower, so Joe cuts the cord. Then Heather births the placenta, which Jill examines and sets aside.

After she takes a shower, Heather climbs into bed. Joe hands their daughter to her. The baby quickly latches on to a breast. "Isn't this great?" Heather says. "I just loved this birth."

"The baby is perfect," Jill says, briefly using a suction tube to remove some matter from the baby's mouth.

After the baby nurses for a while, Jill weighs her, measures her and checks her vitals signs.

"Look, she weighs 8 pounds," Jill says. "She's a big little girl."

"What do you think of your sister?" Jill asks Gunnar.

"She's busy," he says as he watches his sister nurse. "She's got strong lips."

About three hours after the midwives leave, Joe becomes concerned about Heather's loss of blood. He dials 911 and an ambulance takes Heather to the St. Rose Dominican Hospital-Siena campus. It turns out she has what is known as a "lazy uterus," meaning it did not clamp down and shut off the blood flow. A doctor gives her a shot of Pitocin and all is well.

Two days later, Heather and Joe settle on a name for their baby, Maxelyn Grace Mayer.

"It's a good strong name," Heather says. "She can be president of the United States with that name."