THE BIRTH EASE METHOD
The Birth Ease Method was conceived in 2003 while I was working as a midwifery birth assistant and birth center manager for Jennie Joseph, LM, CPM at her birth center, The Birth Place. I was a HypnoBirthing® Practitioner and a Hypnobabies® Instructor. Jennie witnessed the incredible results that my birth hypnosis clients were achieving. A strong believer in the importance of relaxation for labor. She asked me to create a program that could help her mothers achieve the same deep relaxation for their births without the use of hypnosis. I, too, understood that many people are uncomfortable with the idea of hypnosis and/or esoteric meditation traditions. The Birth Ease Method was born!
Additionally, I wanted to create a childbirth program that focused on creating a relaxation habit by eliciting the Relaxation Response within the mind to reduce fear and stress versus pain free childbirth. The Relaxation Response is essentially the opposite reaction to the “fight or flight” response. It is a physical state of deep relaxation which engages the other part of your nervous system—the parasympathetic nervous system. Once engaged, it turns off the fight or flight response and brings the body back to pre-stress levels counteracting the physiological effects of stress and the fight or flight response. Dr. Benson describes the Relaxation Response as a physical state of deep relaxation which engages the other part of our nervous system—the parasympathetic nervous system. Associates of Dr. Benson at Harvard Medical School found that regular sessions of a simple meditation technique decreased the body's response to norepenephrine, a hormone released in reaction to stress. Although the endocrine system continued to emit the hormones, they did not seem to have their usual effects. ''Ordinarily, norepinephrine stimulates the cardiovascular system,'' Dr. Benson said. ''But regular relaxation training resulted in less blood pressure increase to norepinephrine than is usually seen.'' Research has shown that regular use of the Relaxation Response can help any health problem that is caused or intensified by chronic stress such as fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal ailments, insomnia, hypertension, anxiety disorders, inflammation, infertility, and others. According to Dr. Benson, one of the most valuable things we can do in life is to learn deep relaxation- making an effort to spend some time every day quieting our minds in order to create inner peace and better health.
It is shown that fear and stress can slow or stall a labor, affect postpartum mood and milk supply, and it also can impact the baby in the womb. Dr. Thomas Verny cautions, “Too much stress is destructive to adults, and it can be especially so for babies in the womb. The ebb and flow of stress hormones may powerfully affect the architecture of a baby’s developing brain. Too much stress can cause pregnancy complications such as preterm birth and low birth weight. During pregnancy, it becomes more important to release stress and return to balance.” If parents counteract the effects of stress by utilizing the relaxation response daily, their babies receive the benefit as well, especially babies in the womb. The baby’s experience of conception through the first year of life forms a template for life. Pre & perinatal psychologists recommend connecting and bonding with your baby while in the womb as a vital way to help protect babies from stress and the rigors of birth. It became obvious to me that helping families to reduce stress-- whether day to day or chronic-- was where I wanted to focus.
I believe in and appreciate the birth hypnosis methods that I have certified with, trained in, and studied. Yet, I also craved the freedom to meet my clients' needs. Especially regarding concerns about hypnosis, class format, having multiple recordings that parents could work with without the boredom that comes with only one recording, or the feelings of overwhelm that come with too many long scripts that birth partners are expected to read nightly. Over the years, I have also been humbled and honored to have had clients repeatedly tell me that they preferred the sound of my voice. I wanted the ability to offer clients recordings in my voice. As a facilitator, having clients resonate with my voice increases the relaxation response. This is especially valuable when I am attending a birth as the doula for my Birth Ease students. Most importantly, I want to provide the families that I am working with stress reduction skills and relaxation techniques that truly do last for a lifetime.
All my Birth Ease classes are individual classes that are centered exclusively on you. This allows the course to be catered towards your unique needs, birthing plans, and schedule. This private class setting also allows us to address any increased stress or concerns you may be experiencing during your pregnancy. This is something not possible in a group class setting. My Birth Ease Method classes contain audio relaxation recordings, a digital workbook, video childbirth education, and one-on-one instruction and guided relaxation sessions. The instructional videos reflect the teaching style I have used to individually instruct hundreds of families for over 17 years. To listen to a version of the foundational Inner Sanctuary guided relaxation audio recording or a children's nighttime sleep story, please find the links below.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am currently offering all classes virtually.
BIRTH EASE COURSE OUTLINE
The Birth Ease Method is taught online, in an individual versus group setting, or a combination online video learning and in person instruction. The course is taught in a six class series. Each class is incremental and builds on the next. It is includes the childbirth education component as well as a relaxation session along with practice audios to reinforce the relaxation habit you are creating within your mind and body. Class 1 has individualized in-person and video instruction. The basic class outline is below:
An overview of the Stages of Labor
How the 3 muscle layers of the uterus work and influence labor
How fear can and does effect labor
The mind body connection
The importance of choosing a supportive caregiver and birth environment
Why we are creating a relaxation habit
Explanation of the relaxation techniques
Birth Ease Method guided relaxation session to create a special place for your and your baby
WHAT PARENTS ARE SAYING
"I was always determined to give birth naturally, without any pain medication. With my first child, I had a successful natural, medication free birth which was magical, but quite painful. I felt like my body was tightening and fighting against each contraction. When I became pregnant with my daughter, I asked my doula if she had any suggestions as to what I could do to help manage the pain without medication. She told me about the Birth Ease Method and referred me to Michelle Smith.
When I started seeing Michelle, I went with an open mind and an eagerness to learn. From the moment I met her I felt extremely comfortable and trusted her expertise. I following her guidance and practiced my Birth Ease exercises at home.
I am so elated to say that through Birth Ease I had a beautiful, pain free birth! The moment Michelle arrived at the hospital and started the Birth Ease Method techniques, my whole body relaxed. I let go and went with each contraction wave. I felt no pain at all and I very easily gave birth to my daughter in a relaxed state.
Afterwards, all of the medical staff, including the doctor, was in amazement. They could not believe how calm and relaxed I was during labor AND delivery.
I am SO grateful to Michelle for helping me to experience childbirth in a calm, pain free way that was truly enjoyable. It is amazing what our bodies can do with the proper coaching.
Thank you Michelle!"
Mrs. New York America 2012
"With many thanks to Michelle, I was able to believe that the birth story I had dreamed of could be reality with the right guidance, knowledge, and confidence. I am also grateful for the additional advice regarding nutritional options, which turned out to be very beneficial. Michelle is a wealth of knowledge. The connection we had with our daughter before she was even born, was amazing due to Michelle and her techniques. She taught us how to connect on levels that we hadn’t realized were possible, with a little person who hadn’t entered the world yet. We had such a fun (and relaxing!) time at our classes. Michelle has a way of making you feel incredibly special and at ease.
I feel extremely fortunate to have had the birthing experience I had hoped for. Michelle is wonderful at what she does and we are grateful to have found her!"
Baby Parker's parents
In this series on the different childbirth methods she teaches, Michelle airs her guest appearance on “Off My Duff- The Entrepreneur Podcast” with host Duff Gardner.
In their conversation, Michelle shares her story from witnessing her first birth to becoming a certified HypnoBirthing Practitioner and an Hypnobabies Instructor. Craving the freedom to grow and evolve, she is no longer affiliated with either institution. She has used her own voice to bring light to guided relaxation in childbirth by founding The Birth Ease Method
Don’t miss these Highlights:
• Evolving The Birth Ease Method to allow the freedom to follow different techniques
• We all know do reduce stress but listen as Michelle discusses the implications of stress from pregnancy on onwards
• Grief spearheaded a shift into including bereavement doula
• Duff shares his insights and personal story.
• The true importance of families discovering their own inner wisdom
• Michelle’s biggest insight in her business and life
This episode includes an adapted version of Michelle's foundational Birth Ease relaxation session which assists parents in creating an Inner Sanctuary for themselves and their baby. If parents counteract the effects of stress by utilizing the relaxation response daily, their babies receive the benefit as well; especially babies in the womb. Pre and perinatal psychologists recommend connecting and bonding with your baby while in the womb as a vital way to help protect babies from stress and the rigors of birth.
The relaxation response is essentially the opposite reaction to the “fight or flight” response. It is a physical state of deep relaxation which engages the other part of your nervous system—the parasympathetic nervous system. Once engaged, it turns off the fight or flight response and brings the body back to pre-stress levels counteracting the physiological effects of stress and the fight or flight response. Episode 03 of this podcast lists ways to help reduce the impacts of stress and also contains a guided relaxation session for parents of all ages to help elicit the relaxation response and strengthen the parent-child bond.
In this episode, Michelle completes her series exploring the different childbirth methods that she teaches: Calm Birth - meditation based childbirth; Hypnobirth - hypnosis assisted childbirth, and The Birth Ease Method - guided relaxation focused childbirth. Over the years parents have shared how much their children have enjoyed listening to the audio recordings as they fall asleep. With this in mind, Michelle shares a special nighttime sleep story for children that she wrote and recorded for a little girl named Ava.
As a gentle reminder, please avoid listening to this nighttime sleep story while engaging in an activity that requires your or your child’s full attention. Please stop the podcast and return to it when your child is safely tucked into bed and ready for sleep. Unless your child, or you as the passenger, are listening to this guided relaxation with headphones on, for everyone’s safety never play it while riding in or driving a vehicle.