How HypnoBirthing Classes Transformed Labor & Delivery Journey for Jackson Employee

By: Miranda Torres

When Yolie Gruberg, maternal fetal medicine sonographer at The Women’s Hospital at Jackson Memorial, discovered she was pregnant with her first child, she knew she wanted to take a more holistic approach to the natural birthing process through HypnoBirthing.

HypnoBirthing: The Marie Mongan Method is a natural approach of managing pain and anxiety during labor and delivery using deep breathing and visualization. Gruberg, 35, was introduced to holistic birthing techniques via her mother, Yoly Leal Castellanos, a certified birthing doula and HypnoBirthing childbirth educator.

Gruberg’s 14 years of experience in the obstetrics and gynecology field, allowed her to have extensive insight into pregnancy, labor, and all the variables that play into delivering a child.

“Being in the obstetrics and gynecology field, you hear a lot of birthing stories,” said Gruberg of her role as a maternal fetal medicine sonographer. “Unfortunately, about 80 percent of the stories I hear are negative and the mothers complain of the overwhelming fear and pain of labor.”

Hoping to manage some of this fear and find a way to cope with the stress of pregnancy, Gruberg enrolled in HypnoBirthing classes instructed by her mom, who would also be her doula.

Finding an OBGYN who is supportive of HypnoBirthing is rare, especially in a hospital setting, which is why Gruberg reached out to colleague Dana Homer, MD, an OB-GYN at The Women’s Hospital.

“I began assisting mothers in natural births and hypnobirths about 10 years ago now. I always encourage mothers to try and go through the labor and delivery process as natural as possible,” Dr. Homer said. “I support all methods of birthing, however they feel most comfortable and as long as it is medically safe for mom and the baby.”

Dr. Homer has worked alongside Castellanos in the past, and even refers patients to her when they and are in search of a certified doula and HypnoBirthing educator.

“The actual labor and delivery experience itself is a lot more pleasant and calming when they use the HypnoBirthing techniques which are comforting during a time that is typically urgent,” Dr. Homer said.

Vocabulary is one essential facet to the HypnoBirthing practice. Eliminating words with negative connotations helps shift the mom’s mindset and by default, puts her at ease.

The HypnoBirthing method also focuses heavily on empowering the mother so she feels in control during a typically stressful situation.
“Through HypnoBirthing, the mom learns to follow her own instincts and to trust herself by listening to her body and feelings,” says Castellanos. “It’s a teamwork of the mind, body, and baby working together in harmony to achieve whatever is needed for that particular mom and baby.”

During her third trimester, Gruberg discovered that her baby was in a breech position, meaning there was a potential for her to a surgical birth rather than going into labor naturally. She was scheduled for an external cephalic version (ECV), a procedure used to turn a baby from a breech position to a head-down position, two weeks before her due date on January 3.

However, Gruberg went into labor on New Year’s Day. When she arrived at the hospital early that afternoon, she was already 4 centimeters dilated.

Gruberg progressed through the labor process very quickly, but remained calm and collected through it all thanks to the HypnoBirthing techniques she learned.

“We listened to the HypnoBirthing rainbow relaxation guided meditation and music and did soft touch therapy, which allowed me to remain calm and pain-free,” said Gruberg.

Angela Reyes-Truong, MD, an OB-GYN at The Women’s Hospital at Jackson Memorial, was the on-call physician that day, and she assisted Gruberg through her labor and delivery process. The plan was to attempt to invert the baby and proceed with a natural labor, but only if Gruberg was 6 centimeters dilated or less. By the time Dr. Reyes-Truong examined her, Gruberg had already progressed to 8 centimeters dilated, meaning she would have to undergo a cesarean section.

“There are some people who can have vaginal deliveries with a breech baby, but this was her first pregnancy, we didn’t know whether she had the ability to push the baby out,” Dr. Reyes-Truong said. “We didn’t know what the safety of her baby would be being that this was her first time delivering so we proceeded with the C-section to prioritize everyone’s safety.”

On January 1, at 5 p.m. on the dot, Cora Rae Gruberg entered the world, weighing 7 pounds 4 ounces.

“Although Cora’s birth wasn’t exactly how I envisioned it, it was exactly how it was supposed to be,” said Gruberg. “Until the very end, Dr. Reyes-Truong honored my birthing preferences. The fact that she even entertained doing the ECV after my membranes released made me feel very grateful. She really did try to grant me that wish of a natural birth.”

Gruberg bonded with Cora immediately through breastfeeding and thanks to The Women’s Hospital’s Baby-Friendly designation, and was able to have all of the post-partum exams done while doing skin-to-skin with Cora so she was never separated from her baby.
“I want to thank the team at The Women’s Hospital for their support throughout my birthing process. I really appreciate that they tried to accommodate my birth preferences as much as medically possible,” Gruberg said. “Cora’s birth was a once in a lifetime experience for me, so I truly appreciate everyone’s willingness to be so supportive.”

Dana Homer, MD

Obstetrics & Gynecology

Jackson Medical Group

Angela Maria Reyes Truong, MD

Obstetrics & Gynecology

Jackson Medical Group