Heather Connolly is currently part of our team at the Integrative Health and Hormone Clinic. She also teaches HypnoBirthing and has twice been a surrogate. She joins me today to share the benefits of having a doula and using HypnoBirthing.
Techniques used in HypnoBirthing to ensure a calm birth
- Deep relaxation
- Special breathing techniques
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“What we want to do with hypnobirthing is keep your body out of that fight, flight, or freeze response, and we want to tame down your autonomic nervous system to the point where your body doesn’t perceive any danger in the birthing room.”
– Heather Connolly
About Heather Connolly:
Heather Connolly is a HypnoBirthing Practitioner and a birth doula and is a part of the Integrative Health and Hormone Clinic family in Hiawatha, Iowa. Heather founded Hypnobirthing at the end of her first pregnancy in 2010, and using the techniques, she was able to have a completely unmedicated natural childbirth.
15 months later, she gave birth to her second child also using the HypnoBirthing techniques, and had a 99% pain-free birth, which was when she realized there was really something to this HypnoBirthing thing.
She became a Certified HypnoBirthing practitioner in 2014, so she could help women know there are other options for birth. A year later, she took her doula training so she could further assist the families coming through her class so they could have the best births possible.
In 2017 and 2022, Heather was able to put the HypnoBirthing techniques to use again when she embarked on the journey of being a gestational surrogate for two families who were growing their family units.
These already emotionally rewarding experiences were only enhanced by how beautiful and pain-free their births were; one being a calm, warm, beautiful car birth, proving that you CAN have a calm peaceful birth ANYWHERE!
“We’re mammals. So we’re just like a deer in the woods. If you see a laboring deer and a hunter comes up, that deer is going to get up, run away, and try to get to a safe space to have that baby. Our bodies are the same. So our autonomic nervous system will go ahead and shut down your labor because it is not a defense mechanism.”
– Heather Connolly
In This Episode:
- What is HypnoBirthing? (7:29)
- The aim of hypnoBirthing. (7:38)
- The history of HypnoBirthing. (8:57)
- Why we, as a country, need HypnoBirthing. (10:04)
- Heather shares her birthing experiences. (11:50)
- How to avoid tearing when giving birth. (12:55)
- How Heather managed to give birth almost pain-free. (13:55)
- What is a birth doula? (23:32)
- How having a doula impacts birthing outcomes. (25:00)
- Heather shares some tips from her birthing experiences and her experiences as a doula. (26:24)
- Heather shares a visualization script from her HypnoBirthing course to demonstrate the power of the mind-body connection. (35:22)
- What do affirmations do for you? (43:56)
Links & Resources
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Integrative Health and Hormone Clinic
Podcast production by Team Podcast
Heather Connolly 0:06
You know and all the evolution that's happened 30% of women are able to give birth the way that our bodies are naturally supposed to.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 0:17
Welcome to Your Longevity Blueprint podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Stephanie Gray. My number one goal with this show is to help you discover your personalized plan to build your dream health and live a longer, happier, truly healthier life. You're about to hear from a gem of a woman, Heather Connolly, who we've been so blessed to have had as a part of our team at the integrative health and hormone clinic. I've been trying to get her on the show since I started podcasting years ago. You may not know but she also teaches HypnoBirthing and has been a surrogate twice. So today you get to hear the benefits of having a doula and using Hypno Birthing from an expert herself. Let's get started.
Welcome to another episode of The Your Longevity Blueprint podcast. today. My guest is Heather Connolly was a hypnobirthing practitioner, a birth doula and is also part of the integrative health and hormone clinic family here in Hiawatha, Iowa. Heather founded Hypno Birthing at the end of her first pregnancy in 2010. And using the techniques she was able to have a completely unmedicated natural birth. 15 months later, she gave birth to her second child, also using hypnobirthing techniques and had a 99% pain free birth, which was when she realized there really was something to this hypnobirthing thing. She became a certified hypnobirthing practitioner and 2014 so she could help women know there are other options for birth. A year later, she took the doula training so she could further assist and families coming through their class so they could have the best births possible. And 2017 and 2022. Heather was able to put the Hypno birthing techniques to use again, when she embarked on the journeys of being a gestational surrogate for two families who are growing their family units. These already emotional learning experiences were only enhanced with how beautiful and painfree their births were one being a calm, warm, beautiful car birth, proving that you can have a calm, peaceful birth anywhere. And I look forward to her sharing that story later in the show. Welcome to the podcast. Heather.
Heather Connolly 2:07
Thank you, Dr. Gray. appreciate being here. For those of you who recognize her voice, it's
Dr. Stephanie Gray 2:11
probably because you heard it on the phone at the integrative health and hormone clinic. So she has been running our front office for several years. And now she has some talents beyond what she assists with at the clinic that I want her to share on the show. So before we get started, I'm gonna put in a little disclaimer, we're both a little disheveled today because there's an ice storm. And so this isn't my normal background. I'm in my bedroom. I have a toddler outside the door. You may hear dogs bark, when I feel like this is a good podcast to have to improvise with because births don't always go as planned, do they Heather?
Heather Connolly 2:42
So very true. Couple of mine as well.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 2:46
So moving forward, I do want to hear how they're kind of what's your story how you got so passionate about assisting women with natural deliveries?
Heather Connolly 2:53
Yeah. So I came into the Hypno birthing world with the birth of my first daughter. So when I was doing a provider down in Cedar Rapids, I went to about my 34 week appointment, and I was just kind of going over my birth preferences. And it really figured out that she wasn't going to have my back. I told her that I wanted to have a more natural birthing experience. And she just kind of giggled and she said, Yeah, most first time moms say that, and then they gladly take the drugs. So after that appointment, I had just connected to my husband and I was like, Hey, I don't feel like I'm gonna get the good care here that I'm looking for. I don't know what we're gonna do. But I'm not coming back. So I kind of went home dove on the internet, just kind of Googled, you know, how, how do you get a natural childbirth that literally everybody is telling me I'm not going to have right like everybody's just like, oh, just take the medication. But for me, the reason I didn't want to do that is I've heard stories about women. And I actually know somebody who had an epidural, and then she wasn't able to walk for, you know, a couple of months after birth. So that to me, just terrified me to the point where I didn't want to do that. After that. It was just kind of the law of attraction. So I found the Hypno birthing Institute website, found a practitioner out of Dubuque who taught the class reached out to her and then it just kind of everything at simple beautifully for me. She ended up being a midwife out of Dubuque, I was able to transfer my care there. And then she also offered waterbirth. So I am a complete bath junkie. I take our long baths pretty much every night. So that to me, I didn't even know that was a thing that was offered here in Iowa. So it just holds me right there. So again, I found Hypno birthing at 34 weeks. Nora was actually born at 37 weeks then so I didn't really have all that much time to practice the Hypno birthing techniques. She had kind of recommended go ahead and read the book, start listening to the nightly practices, because she wasn't actually having a course at the time. So I did that I reread the book several times. It was so interesting to me to the fact that every time I read it, I turned to my husband. I'm like, This just makes so much sense. Like everything in here. It just makes So much sense. So then when I got into the actual birthing experience, I don't ever say that Nora's birth was pain free. I definitely hit a point at the end where I turned to my midwife. And I was like, Yo, this is this is not fun anymore, right? Like, what can we do about this. And she had just kind of smile. And she said, Honey, if you're saying that your baby's really close, and Nora was born with about 1015 minutes, and just a couple of pushes later, but then again, 15 months later, we welcomed Marie into the world. Welcome, but not planned that quickly. But I was able to utilize the Hypno birthing techniques a lot earlier and that pregnancy, so I really dove into doing the nightly relaxations, the breathing techniques every single day, I would actually come home on my lunch break. So I was getting the relaxations in twice a day. And then just I kept rereading the book. And so then when we got into that birth, that birth, like I said, was 99%, pain free, I didn't feel any surges or contractions. And then the only reason that I say that it was 99. And there was at 1% have a little bit of pain is because we got to the end of her birth, and I turned to my midwife, and I said, Hey, I'm ready to breed her down. And maybe it was a midwife, which is like, Oh, that's wonderful. Go ahead and do that. You don't you don't need their permission. And like, Yeah, I know. I can't pee. She's like, Okay, we don't need to get you out of the water. It's fine. We can go ahead. And you know, just have you pee in the water. And like, Yeah, I can't release my bladder, though. So she checked, I actually chose not to get vaginal exams between me and my check in. So right when you get checked in, I had one and after that I didn't get any vaginal exams. But she did check. And she's like, Yep, you're 10 centimeters, you're ready to rock and roll. She said, But your water is your baby's water has not broke yet. So she asked permission. She said, Hey, are you okay? If we go ahead and break her water, maybe you'll be able to release your bladder that maybe there's just enough pressure going on there. So we went ahead and did that. And the second that she broke ELS water, LS head came out without a surge or a contraction. So that kind of threw me into something called the fight or flight response. And my body actually kind of like froze in that moment. So I went into this cute little, like, almost like squat position inside the water spill. And my husband was kind of making sure it didn't come up out of the water. And my midwife just said, Honey, you gotta sit down, like, oh, well, I can't, my legs are like, locked. And she said, Okay, go ahead and give me a little nudge, and l came out the rest of the way. So that's the only reason why I say there is a little bit of pain there is because I just got pulled out of it just enough and just startled just enough that all of a sudden my body went into that freeze response. But otherwise, like I said, didn't feel any surges through her entire labor, which was amazing. And that's like, like I said, in the bio, that's kind of really where I realized that there was really something to the Hypno birthing technique, and that it really does work and it can be really beneficial for people.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 7:48
Sounds too good to be true, but I believe Yeah, no, you don't. So what is
Heather Connolly 7:54
Hypno birthing? Yeah, so Hypno birthing uses deep relaxation, self hypnosis, we use affirmations special breathing techniques to just help ensure a nice calm birth. So what we want to do with hypnobirthing, is we want to keep your body out of that fight flight or freeze response. And we want to tame down your autonomic nervous system to the point where your body doesn't perceive any danger in the birthing room,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 8:18
which I feel like a lot of times just entering the hospital women are going to be in that fear. I don't know. Yeah,
Heather Connolly 8:23
yep. So there's a lot that goes into the medical world when it comes to birth, like medicalization is there, you know, for a reason they've saved lots of birth, that the second you walk into a birthing room, a lot of it looks the same as if you're walking into a room if you got diagnosed with cancer, or if you have an illness. So your body kind of prick picks up and and perceives a lot of that as danger. And we're actually, I mean, we're mammals, so we're just like a deer in the woods. If you say labouring deer and a hunter comes up, that deer is going to get up, run away and try to get to a safe space to have that baby. Our bodies are the same. So our autonomic nervous nervous system will then go ahead and shut down your labor, essentially, because it is not a defense mechanism.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 9:08
Yeah, I feel like maybe that's what happened to me. Okay, so what's the history of Hypno birthing? How long has this been around for? Yeah,
Heather Connolly 9:15
Hypno birthing has actually been around since the 80s. Mickey Monken is the original founder of Hypno birthing. There are a few different other Hypno birthing courses out there now. They're all essentially the exact same thing. So Mickey actually came across an article by Dr. grantley. degreed, talking about just removing the fear from childbirth. So Dr. grantley, degreed, he actually really kind of put this into perspective when he realized when he was in different poverty stricken areas, a lot of those women were actually having better birth experiences than the more educated sophisticated women. So he was really starting to think about what are these uneducated women bringing to the birthing experience that you know, these higher educated women aren't? He realized that They were not bringing the concept of fear to their birth because it wasn't taught to them almost like intergenerational type of thing.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 10:07
Interesting. So why do we as a country need hypnobirthing? Tell us some maybe statistics on like vaginal delivery versus C section, kind of why is it so important? Why do we need this? Yeah, satisfaction
Heather Connolly 10:18
rates here in the United States, they have, they've continued to increase. I believe we're over 30%. Now for C section rates in the US. So that right there is just sitting there saying that, you know, and all the evolution that's happened 30% of women aren't able to give birth, the way that our bodies are naturally supposed to, I mean, our bodies, if our bodies are able to conceive these babies grow these babies, why our bodies aren't able to birth these babies then. So essentially, Hypno birthing takes birth back to just an actual natural experience, just like every other bodily function that we have going on.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 10:54
Do you know the percentage of women who use pain medications or like who have epidurals versus who don't? And kind of related outcomes? Do you know much of that,
Heather Connolly 11:02
I don't have any recent statistics, they have never really Institute us to get a lot of really good statistics and a lot of feedback. They don't have anything updated since about 2014. So I don't think it's really even valid at this point. And I don't I don't even know where it would be sitting. Now.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 11:19
I don't know those either. But I would certainly assume kind of like your fear of hate saying fear. But you know, your concern, I'll say with having an epidural, I think the more medical intervention, the greater likelihood for not great outcomes, I think we can kind of assume that at least.
Heather Connolly 11:33
Yeah, and that's really interesting, too, in, you know, in the actual birth room, you start with the smaller interventions, and all of a sudden, they just, they just keep going with every intervention along the way until it gets to the point where they say, oh, failure to progress, we need to take a b by c section.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 11:49
So let's let's talk about your birth experiences, and how you didn't use a lot of medical intervention. So how many times have you given birth?
Heather Connolly 11:58
No, I have given birth four times shared my birth stories with Norn L at the beginning there. Those were wonderful experiences. And then I have also been HSA, strong surrogate twice. So I have a zero buddy, as I like to call him. He has five, he's living over in Chicago with his family. And then also Camille will actually be one here in two days, actually. So she'll be one as well, those birthing experiences, were actually 100%, pain free. So that made everything even that much better and sweeter in the long run. So with actually, his birth is really interesting, too, because of the fact of I was actually measuring 36 weeks when I delivered him at 40 weights. And that buddy came out nine and a half pounds. So I contribute with all my births, I have actually not had any tearing whatsoever. And I contribute that to one of the birthing breasts that we teach you in the course. So we actually teach you a not forcefully push them into your perineal tissues, we want everything to kind of open up nicely and easily. But we also teach you to wait until you actually have that urge on your own then as well. So even if you're 10 centimeters, and you don't have that urge, wait, wait it out until baby actually comes. So luckily his parents were able to make it even when I got to the hospital, I was 10 centimeters, I didn't feel like nudging him down or breathing him down for another 45 minutes. And luckily the parents made it with about 15 minutes to spare. So they were there for that delivery.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 13:30
It was incredible. It's just incredible that you're a surrogate period twice, but it's hard for me to believe just given how my birthing experience went with my son that you sit there and you know, say like this was literally pain free. And is that just because your body was so relaxed that you had trained your mind to be in such a state of relaxation? Is that like the, I don't know, one pitch summary line is that?
Heather Connolly 13:53
Yeah, ultimately it is. So it comes with me you've got a workbook with the course you get the actual book itself. But then you also get relaxation practices and affirmations. So, those are kind of the core piece of it because each time we do those relaxations A, it gives you the suggestion that you're going to be able to relax that much better. The next time you do it will take it's going into your subconscious, right. But then it's overriding and pre programming, any negative grouping things that you have hanging on. So think about kind of like, you know, the iceberg that the Titanic hit, right. So your waking mind has maybe just a little bit of a surface but underneath there's a whole big iceberg of all these thoughts and pre programs and beliefs that are in your mind and we really try to tap into those and we try to override those with positive birthing experiences and outcomes.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 14:45
Love that. Love that. Okay, I want to go back to your fourth birthing story though because I obviously you're employed by as you're working in front office at the clinic, you're no gestational carrier. You we knew that shortly you were going to be going into labor and you had quite had an exciting day. So can you share with us how that delivery went? Yeah, actually, it
Heather Connolly 15:04
wasn't even a super exciting full day, it was only a couple hours. So that's also one of the bursa or personal hypnobirthing is, you know, a lot of women actually have shorter birthing experiences. But I don't know if you even remember I shot you and Erica texts about five o'clock in the morning. Oh, I remember. Just kind of saying, like, Hey, I'm having surges. I don't think I'm coming in today. They're kind of about, you know, every four and five minutes apart, but I'm not feeling anything. So I'm just going to hang out at home. So I had called the family then to let them know, like, Hey, I do believe today's the day you know, things are rockin. So they took off, they headed towards Iowa City. And then my husband and I both kind of got up got around. I'm the person that I had had to put my face on before I stepped out of the house. So I went to night, got that done. And then I text the parents and I was just like, hey, I'm going to actually put my phone on airplane mode. It's actually only at 40%. And when I'm in labor, I actually have liked to listen to those relaxations that you get every night just because I've trained my body so well to to listen to those. And I can just drop right down into relaxation with them. So I check them. I'm like, Hey, I'm gonna put this on airplane mode. Let my phone charge for about 20 minutes. That's how long the relaxations are, I'll probably start making my way towards Iowa City. So I did that put my phone on the charger, turn them around taxation on and I fell asleep for an hour and a half. So then meanwhile, Erica saying
Dr. Stephanie Gray 16:23
she's not coming in. She was coming into it.
Heather Connolly 16:27
So then I woke up. I actually believe I texted you guys again. I said, Man, you know, I just woke up from a nap there. So about like every three or four minutes apart, still not feeling anything now. So I'll probably make my way in. I got up. Then I went to the bathroom. And the second I was on the toilet, I turned to my husband and like, Jr. I messed up. He's like, What do you mean? Like, we need to leave now. And he's like, now now. I'm like, like right now now. So then I went to actually switch into some different pants. And he came in and he could tell that my leg was shaking. He's like, really believe. So we loaded up in the car, we actually said goodbye to the girls, because they were up at that point that as well. And then kind of the next 15 minutes was kind of funny in a sense. But I had actually called my mother in law to tell her Hey, girls are at home, go grab them. And she's like, Oh, baby, just turn around and go get them and bring them here because she was actually only about two miles down the road and on our way to Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. And like, no, Angela and I, we have to leave now. And she's like, Oh, don't be a baby. Just go get them and bring them back. I'm like, No, we have to leave. So then after that I called the parents and I let them know, I'm like, Hey, thanks, just picked up big time, we're on our way, we just left the house. And then it had to call the midwife to let them know that I was on my way and to ask them to turn the water on. I was working with midwife and I was city who knew that I at least really wanted to labor in the water. That was important to me. Because along with the birth breath, I also do believe sitting in the water, it kind of gets your parent Neil tissues nice and in pruney, kind of like your fingers in the water. And so I feel that it makes a little bit more stretchy. So she knew I wanted that. And who believed he actually said like, that's fine. But we don't have a room ready for you. We're probably going to put you in a triage room for a while when you get here and like, I don't know if I'll have time can you talk to the midwife and see if she can get a tub ready. And then after that we were coming through Cedar Rapids, I was able to put my relaxation on about Walker. So it's about a 20 minute drive, probably from Walker to Cedar Rapids. It turned my relaxations on Got my groove. We were coming around the S curves kind of by like the H Avenue exit. And I turned to my mentor or turned to my husband and like, um, My water just broke. And he's like, Okay, what do you want to do? And I'm like, Well, how much farther is the tire with city? He's like, probably, like 40 minutes. He's like, probably like, 50. Because I don't even know where I'm going. When they get there. I'm like, it'll be fine. It'll be fine. He's like, work right by St. Luke's I'm like, totally fine. It's no big deal. So then we passed the St. Luke's exit. And then the very next exit, a surge came on and like, we're not fine. I'm holding this baby in right now. Like, he's like, Don't worry, I'll take this exit though. He took that exit. And he actually was running into St. Luke's which is not where we were going to deliver. He was actually running in to St. Luke's he was like rounding the car when her head came out. So then by the time he actually got back out in the car, I was holding her he looks at me and he's like, you had the baby. And then suddenly, I was just kind of like, yes, yes, that just happened. Like, we're good. We're fine. And so then we actually we had to drive around to the actual labor and delivery unit that they actually they lent me labor or policy and in the car for a while so we didn't even clamp off her umbilical cord so she got all her blood before they even got me into the actual Birthing Unit. So it was really funny out though,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 20:05
and then me and sent it to me yourself.
Heather Connolly 20:09
I don't I don't take a selfie Jared ticket. But yeah, so then I said, there's you all said, well, it didn't make a diversity but the parents didn't make it so I was kind of bonds so they had actually made it to Iowa City where it was planning to deliver. And then as soon as I called they were actually just putting their key in the condo that's right across from the hospital and she's like, we gotta go. We're going to Cedar Rapids. So then they had to truck back up here a little ways.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 20:34
They did miss it. But you know what their baby into this world without any pain medications and a quick delivery show.
Heather Connolly 20:39
I mean, it was warm in the car, the relaxations. Were going no pain medications, no fear whatsoever.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 20:46
So let's go back to that. Even despite you may be feeling like this labor progress. I mean, you were anticipating that it was going to progress quickly. But despite it even progressing maybe more quickly, were you still able to keep your body in that Zen zone? So Jr's playing the music in the car and you're still in that mind? I
Heather Connolly 21:04
then I feel any of my searches or contractions, with wit, or Camille? Yep. Wow. So even with what's birth, I even remember when we got to Iowa City. I remember thinking on the way I could feel every turn that he was taking to the hospital there. And I remember thinking as soon as we parked the car, I really wish I could just teleport myself right from here to the room because I'm not feeling anything and that like split second. I'm like, Oh my gosh, I'm gonna have to come up and out of the self hypnosis, right and walk into the hospital do all things. But I was still able to do that. So even when I got in there, we went to go walk past like the check in desk and the lady's like, oh, you need to stop and like, I don't think you want me to, you know, those people still just maintain the entire thing. And I didn't like I said I didn't feel anything. I got right into the room and midwife checkmate right away, and I was already 10 centimeters, and I had gotten there.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 21:58
That's incredible. You may be wonder are waterbirth really allowed in Iowa? Or is it only a few places?
Heather Connolly 22:05
Oh Finley was one of the only places Finley interview was one of the only places that did allow in hospital waterbirth their midwives have since retired and so they did not they didn't hire your midwife, so they only have OBS. So they did discontinue the waterbirth there. I do know there's a couple other locations that will allow you to labor in the water. I have attended a couple births where mom was laboring in the water and we just got her out and had towels on the bathroom floor. So she was able just to be right there right next to the tub. And there are midwives who were you know, they'll jokingly even say like What left the baby comes out, the water comes out in the water. If it happens, it does happen. But with you know, hospital regulations, they don't always love it to happen.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 22:49
I think every all of our listeners probably know what a midwife is. And I know I had midwives as well. What about a doula? What is a doula? Yeah, so
Heather Connolly 22:57
I brought a birth doula. There's multiple different kinds of doulas anymore. So there are birth, doulas or postpartum doulas and a birth doula is actually somebody that will go to the birth with you then. And they help keep you emotionally physically, you know, they're just your support person. They can help facilitate communication between you and the providers. A doula is not a medical provider, though. So they're, they're just an emotional support standpoint.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 23:24
And so you are you call it like a certified doula? Yep. Yes, I am
Heather Connolly 23:29
Dona certified. So I am a certified Dona doula. Here in Iowa you don't actually have to be have a certification. Different states do have different rules. But most states you don't have to be certified even so even you know, you could attend to birth as a birth doula if you wanted to. A lot of women will have you know, like their sisters, or even their mothers attend their birth in a in a doula role.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 23:55
It certainly sounds like just the little that I've heard from you since you've been working at the clinic that a lot of the births you've you say assisted with supported with as a doula went pretty quick. They were pretty I can't even say pain free but like not complicated. Do you feel like when women have that support person, things go smoother, are kind of speak to the strength of having a doula and why someone would would really want that.
Heather Connolly 24:17
The birthing outcomes with women who have doulas there do tend to be a lot better. A lot of times even more of the suggestions of interventions aren't suggested quite as early. Last, I feel like they're just better prepared because they have those conversations and topics that are brought up prior to the birth. So then when you get to the birth, you kind of know what your options are a little bit more than as well. But most of us will also kind of advocate kind of hanging out at home and laboring at home as long as possible. So then birth is really rolling by the time you actually get into the birthing room that as well. So a lot of interventions start to come into play, you know if there's if the hospital kind of has like a 12 hour clock, and they kind of want to see things progressing and a significant amount Have time and 12 hours. And if you're not kind of following along with where they think you should be, they might try to kind of speed things up a little. Not all providers are like that. But it can tend to happen in the hospital setting.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 25:11
Makes sense. Thank you for sharing your birthing stories, because
Heather Connolly 25:14
Oh, yeah, great, great
Dr. Stephanie Gray 25:15
stories. What have you learned through kind of your birthing stories, your experience with Hypno birthing, but also through kind of supporting other women? I guess I'll say also with Hypno birthing, and as a doula kind of what have you learned from their labors? From your own just in general, what are some good tips or advice for our audience?
Heather Connolly 25:32
So I love that there are other birthing classes out there. Obviously, I teach Hypno birthing. So I love the Hypno birthing. But it is interesting, the doula clients that I do have who go through the Hypno birthing course and have that background. And then the ones that I attend without the course without the course they do tend to have a little bit longer of Labor's than the ones for who come through with with the Hypno birthing course and the Hypno birthing background. I have, you know attended verse where I'm pretty much just walking in and here comes Babe and I have actually been at a birth that was over about 30 hours. With that being said, it was a beautiful home birth, and she just got to hang out at home. It was actually this beautiful Mexican couple and her mom came and cooked for us. So we had all this authentic Mexican food the entire time. And she, I mean, she was doing things like yoga and going for walks and all these amazing, beautiful things that you don't always
Dr. Stephanie Gray 26:25
get. Is this the woman we saw at the airport?
Heather Connolly 26:27
Yeah. Yeah. I've been at two of their burgers. And both of them were beautiful and magical. And like I said, you know, so many people here like a 30 hour labor and think, oh my gosh, she had been in so much pain, but it was it was the complete opposite. She got to just kind of chill at home hanging at home. She had birth photographers, the whole shebang. And we just, you know, we we were just right there with her the whole time. So going back to the Hypno birthing though, with with the Hypno birthing, I do believe that your body, your body knows it's in labor long before you actually really realize you're in labor. So I feel like so many women, especially my Doula clients seem to go into labor in the middle of the night, I truly believe because they go to bed listening to the relaxations and their body is just doing what it needs to do while they're sleeping. And then when they get to wake up, you know, like, Oh, hey, let's get moving. Let's get going. So I do find that those the Hypno, birthing clients do tend to have a lot shorter labor. So most, Labor's that I kind of attend are anywhere between kind of like, probably, on average, about six hours, but honestly, anywhere, normally, between about four and 10 hours, and I had a berth
Dr. Stephanie Gray 27:33
sounds like a dream, I want to go back to the client of yours that we saw at the airport, because we had taken our team, I think, to Dallas for trading. I think that's where we went. And yeah, you know, we're sitting waiting at the gate, and all of a sudden, you just like, we're like, oh, you ran across a little bit of the terminal and gave this woman and her children a hug. And our whole team immediately thought, Oh, that was so magical, that that must be someone that she you know, had assisted with the rebirth and it certainly was. So that was kind of cool for us to see. But tell us so for listeners, you've given us some advice. And obviously, we need to be able to get our body in the state of relaxation. And we're gonna have you read a visualization script here in a minute. But before we get to that, any other resources, so there's hypnobirthing.com, or if the actual
Heather Connolly 28:17
Hypno birthing institute that are actually I think it's international now so have never they originally hypnobirthing and Miki, when she first created the course in the 80s. She actually created it for her daughter. So she had actually, you know, she had read that childbirth without fear with her own birth. She then went into her own birthing experiences. And she told her provider like, hey, I want to have a natural birth because I you know, I read this article, I want to have a natural birth and he said, Oh, yeah, totally fine. Her first two births, she had actually got into the birthing room had labored completely naturally, and her baby's hands were coming out. And this is back in the era where, you know, women got ether cones pretty much got put out and babies need to be taken out by four sets. So when she would she woke up from those then, you know, she was kind of told, Hey, don't be surprised by the bruising and baby's face. You know, because we had use forceps and here she was like I my baby, it was crowning. And yet you had to pull baby out by forceps, right? So when she got into her third birth, and she really sat down and talked to her provider and said, Hey, this is how this is gonna go down. If you don't want to honor me, I'll go somewhere else. Good for her. Yeah. And actually, it was really cool, because at that time, two men weren't allowed in the birthing room. And she also had her husband by her side for her third and fourth delivery. Then, when it comes to the actual course, she put the course together for her third daughter than Maura who had told her that she was pregnant. So through the years, she had really realized that she had used a form of self hypnosis to lock herself down into the relaxation when she had her own babies. And so that's why she actually created the course then was for her daughter. It's really cool because it was for people and her very first core reserve class in her grandbaby was the very first hypnobirthing baby that was born then though she very cool. super thrilled with that. Yep. So I actually think Hypno birthing institute.com
Dr. Stephanie Gray 30:11
is one link in the show notes. Yeah, listeners. Yep. Other resources.
Heather Connolly 30:15
Ina may Gaskin, she's a great one advocates for you know, all things natural in the birthing room. Penny Simkins also has a really great partner book. So that would be a really good resource. And as well, here in Iowa, I do teach the Hypno birthing course either in person I, I've gone to chiropractic offices, you let me have it at your your clinic, we also now are doing zoom, because of COVID. And zoom these days, right. So that can be an option as well, if you want to actually take the course in person. Otherwise, if you go out to the hypnobirthing Institute, you should be able to track down and find providers in your area then as well.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 30:51
Awesome. Let's just stay on that note for a second. So I was going to ask kind of what services you offer at the end. But so let's just clarify that. So you offer a hypno birthing course. And then you also work as a doula so so listeners could hire you for the doula portion as well, correct?
Heather Connolly 31:07
That is correct. Yep. Well, I
Dr. Stephanie Gray 31:09
hear you have a visualisation script that you want to share with us. So I'm going to go ahead and make you host here so you can share some music and kind of explain to us, we're going to be listening to here. Yeah, so
Heather Connolly 31:20
this little script. This is not a deep relaxation script or anything like that. This is the script that I like to use at the end of the very first course or the very first class of the course, because it really helps you see how powerful that your mind really is. Okay, that's it. Go ahead and just close your eyes. Again, a couple of nice deep breaths. Relax your eyes, your jaw. Let the breath flow down over your shoulders, all the way down to the depths of your toes. allow your eyes to comfortably close. And breathe and relaxation. Breathe into the counter for pause. Breathe down to the count of eight. Very good. Continuing to take a few of these beautiful, deep calm breath and let the breath flow down all the way through your body as your shoulders begin to truth into the frame of your body. Now at your own breathing pace, Allow your breath to drip down through your chest, your stomach and down through your body as though are going to flow all the way down to the tips of your toes. Releasing and relaxing. Feel your shoulders, your chest, your elbows becoming limb and relax. release and relax. Now in your mind's eyes and in your imagination, take yourself to a kitchen. This is a kitchen that you are very fond of one from your near or distant past. It's a place that holds good feelings for you. Yourself fair through your kitchen, your grandmother's kitchen, your mother's kitchen. Look around you and see all the familiar things of this kitchen. The warmth of the row rave and the aroma of your favorite foods as they cook. See the steam and the condensation forming on all the windows. Imagine now that you're standing at the counter of this wonderful kitchen in front of you is a cutting board. And on the cutting board is a bright, beautiful yellow round plump lemon. You can feel and see every one of the pores of this lemon. Run your fingers over that lemon. It's almost wax like study all the features of that lemon. Beside the board is a large cutting knife. Give yourself permission to pick up the knife. And now in your mind's eyes. See yourself cutting the lemon in half. The watch of the juice runs down and makes a small puddle of juice on the board. Now take one half of the lemon and bring it to your nose. Smell the lemon. Now take the lemon and sink your teeth right into it. Be aware of the juices Novem running through your mouth. Slowly move your tongue around the inside of your mouth. What is happening within your mouth. Very good. Be aware of this changes And they'll slowly come back to you to your room. And when you're ready, go ahead and open your eyes. I'm salivating. Right?
Dr. Stephanie Gray 35:12
That's the point I heard.
Heather Connolly 35:13
Yeah. However, your body did not just buy into 11. But yet your body is reacting as if it did. So this right here is just kind of showing you how powerful your mind and body connection is. And actually, for every thought, your body actually has a chemical and physical response. So when we are thinking about that fight, flight or freeze, there is going to be some sort of response within your body. When we really talk about the the fight flight or freeze response in your autonomic nervous system. If you think about the idea that if you are walking in a dark alley late at night, and you hear something behind you, what do you think that you would do? Personally? You Dr. Dre, what do you think that you would do if you heard something behind you in a dark alley?
Dr. Stephanie Gray 36:01
Yeah, I'll grab my phone dial 911? I don't know. Yeah,
Heather Connolly 36:04
most people will either say they will turn around to fight, right, which is my husband, he would do that, right. Most females will say, I will run like I'll instantly run away, right. So you could turn around, and you could look and it could be the cutest little kitten ever. But yet, in that split second, when you heard that noise, your body perceived it as a danger or fear. So you're thinking, hey, if I turn around, there's going to be somebody with a knife, right? Or somebody's going to mug me, something's going to happen. So when in that sweet moment, when your body perceives, perceive that danger, your autonomic nervous this and then went into defense mode, so it sends blood and oxygen to the defense mechanisms of your body. So your defense mechanisms would be your brain, because you need to think quick in that situation, it would be your arms and your legs, right? Because you need to either be able to fight off that danger, or run away from that danger, your lungs, your heart, all of that is getting the blood, guess what is not defense, digestion, and your uterine functions, right. So if your body is perceiving that there is danger or fear, it's going to shut down. And it's going to send all the blood to those defense mechanisms and defense portions of your body and it's actually going on off, right, that's apply to the uterus. A lot of times what happens then, you know, is baby then becomes oxygen deprived, because that is how babies getting oxygen is through your blood through the umbilical cord. And then all sorts of interventions can start coming into play. When that happens. That was good, very good.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 37:38
So back to that exercise that we just did. Like how often do you currently practice these sort of visualizations or exercises? And then how often should your clients especially, you know, soon to be burning clients be doing these sort of activities? Yep. But of
Heather Connolly 37:53
course, you actually get to different relaxations. So a rainbow relaxation, or gives you this beautiful imagery of a rainbow and arrow. I love that one, though, actually, yeah, it actually has a different suggestion for you to follow when you're visualizing those colors. The other one is actually used to be actually in the hypnobirthing book, when you submerge with that, but it's just a very good another guided imagery. I actually, I love that one, because that's the one that I started training with. So even with all my other words actually became certified, I still use that other relaxation, even though the rainbow relaxation is the core relaxation bit, of course, I tell people, the sooner that you can start the practices, the better because your body is going to just have that much more of a chance to override any of the negative programming that you have about birth. So if you think about the idea that even from the time that you were probably a little girl, you've been hearing everybody's stories, and they're not always great bursaries. And a lot of times you get a group of females together. And it's almost like they're kind of trying to one up each other on how their birthing experiences Lara's, which I actually find interesting because when I talk about my birthing experience, everybody's just like, oh, well, yeah. You're, you're just how they're your you know, that's, that's just you, right? And like, No, it's because they trained my body. You know, like, I trained my mind, I trained my body. Yeah, I did the work. So I really encourage that, that, you know, the sooner that you can start the relaxations, the better. And I tell people, I would even do them a couple of times a day, if you can work that into your schedule. So most of them, you know, are just 2025 minutes scripts. They're guided imagery. And it's not hard practice, you just have to make the time to do it. So a lot of people will say put it on before you go to bed or if you do a lunch break, you know, or name, just kind of like a five second reset in the middle of your day or 20 minute reset in the middle of the day. That'd be a great time to do it. And then the affirmations that come with it too, you know, those you can be listening to during the waking day. Affirmations are a way to again, start to believe it's going to override and search reprogram your mind into a belief that a certain statement is going to actually happen and be the outcome. And the more your body hears that, the more it's going to take that and as a truth. So I do suggest, the sooner the better. With that being said, if you find Hypno birthing late in your pregnancy, that's okay too, because I mean, I only had three weeks to prepare with Nora's and I still had to completely unmedicated whatever. So it's still doable late in pregnancy, that as well,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 40:23
good encouragement there, I have to also just point out to the listeners, like this work that we're talking about, right. And investing time and these sorts of relaxation practices, doesn't just apply to birth, we've had a lot of other episodes on just getting your body out of fight or flight and on Adrenal Fatigue and whatnot. And so these sort of, again, relaxation or visualization practices will help in general, just calm the nervous system and kind of get you out of being stuck there, as so many of us often are.
Heather Connolly 40:50
So much of today's society, you're seeing everything as a constant danger. So even if you think about that little Facebook notification, that's bright red, and you see that you because it's bright red, your body thinks they have to act on that right away, that's actually sending some sort of fear into your body, then as well. That's why they change that little icon to a red. So all around us, we're getting all of these suggestions from the outside world, the relaxation practices, and meditation practices, just being able to calm your entire nervous system back down, we want to keep you kind of out of that emergency, you know, fear, and we want to keep you kind of in a just in general, a healing sphere of nature. Yes, yeah. 93 to 97% of your life, which most people are not there,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 41:34
but we need to be, which is why we need you. So tell us, Heather, where can listeners find you?
Heather Connolly 41:39
So I don't have a very good social media dance. I actually don't have Facebook, I am on Instagram. It's just the personal currently. So let's just have Conley so he at age co nn o ll y. Otherwise, you can just visit my website, which is list dash Hypno birthing.com.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 41:58
Love it. And I know you're offering a discount for our listeners. So share that with us.
Heather Connolly 42:03
Yeah, so anybody that wants to take the hypnobirthing course, whether it be a private or a group course could be zoom or in person then as well, I am offering a 10% discount, as long as you reference the podcast.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 42:15
Yay, awesome. Well, last but not least, what's your absolute top longevity tip, if you had to pick one,
Heather Connolly 42:21
I would still stick with meditations. A lot of people think that meditations have to be you know, you have to sit in a dark corner and quiet your mind for completely blank, right, I actually really enjoy guided visualizations and guided meditations, because I believe a lot of those have the affirmations in there then as well. So it's kind of a double bonus. Plus, you're able to not have to fear that, you know, oh, I'm not doing this meditation properly, you're able to sit and just really visualize everything that they're saying in those guided meditations. I'm actually a person that I either still when I go to bed, I will download a meditation off of YouTube even put my phone in airplane mode so I can listen to it and when I go to bed or I do so listen to that my Hypno birthing relaxations often, just because I know that I'm going to get that solid, I'm asleep. Because I'm so trained to be able to fall asleep to it. I find it really, really interesting. I used to wear one of those Eva bracelets, to check my cycles. I'm the type of person that I've listened to the hypnobirthing. So many times that as soon as I hear pretty much the first couple little tunes on the relaxation, I feel like I'm completely asleep. However, my Ava bracelet will actually pick up that I'm not sleeping until the meditation or the relaxation is over. So that right there is kind of showing that your your mind and your body is still taking all those suggestions. And then you're not actually falling asleep. So your brain is still in that beta wave, where it's just the most susceptible to be able to take that in.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 43:50
Very cool. Very interesting. Thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing really hope that listeners tend to have a pain free birthing experience. And so I just so hope listeners connect with you or your doula and Hypno birthing services. Thanks for coming on the show today.
Heather Connolly 44:03
Yeah, thanks so much for having me. I know we've been trying to do this for a couple years. So hey, finally work it out.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 44:13
Gosh, her experiences seem too good to be true, but I know they're not they are real. She's walking, living testimony of the power of Hypno birthing and as her visualization demonstrated, our mind is so powerful, and I don't think we take advantage of that power and this interview was a good reminder of it. If you're pregnant or hope to become pregnant, you can connect with Heather at Bliss hyphen hypnobirthing.com. She's had lots of happy clients and you too could be one of them. Be sure to check out my book your longevity blueprint. And if you aren't much of a reader, you're in luck. You can now take my course online where I walk you through each chapter in the book plus for a limited time the course is 50% off. Check this offer out at your longevity blueprint.com and click the Course tab. One of the biggest things you can do to support the show and help us reach more listeners is to subscribe to the show. Leave us a rating and review on Apple pod casts or wherever you listen, I do read all the reviews and would truly love to hear your suggestions for show topics, guests and for how you're applying what you learn on the show to create your own longevity blueprint. This podcast is produced by Team podcast.
Unknown Speaker 45:12
Thank you so much for listening and remember, wellness is waiting
Dr. Stephanie Gray 45:23
the information provided in this podcast is educational. No information provided should be considered to be or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your personal medical authority
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