Cynthia Overgard: Helping Women Empower Their Pregnancies

When Cynthia Overgard got pregnant 11 years ago she was young, healthy, and low-risk in every way.

But her doctor prepared Cynthia for a C-section. She even assured Cynthia that a bikini would cover the scar.

“There was no reason to talk to me about major surgery!” Cynthia says. “I wanted to birth my own baby naturally, unless there was a compelling reason not to.”

At 7 months, Cynthia took charge of her pregnancy. The delivery — midwife-assisted, drug-free and after just 3 hours of labor, in a Jacuzzi at a Danbury birth center — changed her life.

Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia Overgard

Mother, father and newborn son returned home as a family just 8 hours postpartum. The beauty and simplicity of the birth compelled Cynthia to resign as a finance and risk management executive at MasterCard, and pursue the field of childbirth.

Within 2 years she was an author and  educator. She taught HypnoBirthing — a 12-hour course based on the premise that because fear and tension are the cause of labor pain, a focus on trust and self-hypnosis techniques helps women stay calm and in control, whether the baby is born in a hospital, birth center or even at home.

In 2007 Cynthia opened a full-service childbirth education center in Westport, where she lives. She says it’s the only such place in the Northeast.

Cynthia encourages women to empower themselves. That comes, she says, by gaining information, understanding your rights, and learning tools to remain relaxed and in control through labor and delivery.

A woman who feels fearful during labor secretes adrenaline, Cynthia says. That tightens the cervix and reduces oxygen flow to the baby. It’s a natural reaction, which evolved when women gave birth outdoors with predators lurking nearby.

In the 21st century, however, it’s important for a woman to release endorphins. But that only happens if she (and her partner) are “mentally and emotionally prepared.”

Women and their babies, at Cynthia Overgard's Life After Birth postpartum class.

Women and their babies, at Cynthia Overgard’s Life After Birth postpartum class.

Her 2nd child — a girl, born 4 years after the first — weighed 9 pounds, 7 ounces. During both pregnancies, Cynthia says, she was told her babies were “too big” for easy births.

She did her homework. “I know small women can deliver big babies,” she says. “It’s about positioning, not fetal weight.”

Incidents like those fueled her desire to help women take control of their pregnancies. She met “a lot of highly intelligent people who did not even know the right questions to ask.” Fifty percent of her clients, she says, have masters or Ph.D. degrees.

Her Westport center — on Post Road West, across from Whole Foods — offers childbirth classes, along with workshops and programs on breastfeeding, birth doulas, baby childcare, pumping and storing breast milk, infant and child CPR, and baby sleep. There are support groups too.

Surprisingly, she says there has been no pushback from the medical establishment.

This Stamford couple called their birth process "calm and joyful."

This Stamford couple called their birth process “calm and joyful.”

“That’s because I don’t tell people what they should and shouldn’t do. I give them the facts, and explain the full range of options. They have to take full charge of their birth process, and feel at peace with it.”

In fact, Cynthia says, because of her “delivery” — that is, the way she presents information — she knows of a few doctors who have even recommended her class.

“People go from being petrified giving birth, to feeling so empowered,” Cynthia says. That carries over into other areas of life. She’s heard that people deal with, say, cancer doctors differently too.

“Empowerment changes us as parents, and as consumers,” Cynthia claims. “And it all starts with birth.”

A woman never forgets her birth process, Cynthia says. “She deserves to feel at peace with it forever.”

(For more information click here, call 203-952-7299 or email Hat tip: Michael Goodman)

Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!


26 responses to “Cynthia Overgard: Helping Women Empower Their Pregnancies

  1. Marcia Wright

    My childbirth experiences, albeit decades ago, add credence to Cynthia’s philosophy; fear and tension prolong the birthing process. Because I was truly as relaxed as one can be as a body was doing its “thing”, both my sons were born after about an hour of active labor.

  2. Cynthia is amazing!! All of my clients walk away feeling empowered. So many after taking the class take charge of their birth and change their birth path entirely.
    I highly recommend this class to all couples preparing for their birth. Even if you are planning on a medicated birth. Being fully informed is so very important for all the decisions you make for you and your baby.

  3. Cynthia is a fabulous teacher and educator. I will forever be grateful for the knowledge i gained during my first pregnancy from her class and insight. Thanks for acknowledging a fabulous lady!

  4. Lydia Willsky

    HBCT and Cynthia transformed my view of childbirth and of my own power to deliver my baby. In a world where women are more often told what they can’t do, Cynthia tells us we can.

  5. Having attended Cynthia’s Hypnobirthing course and Life After Birth postpartum support group, I can vouch that Cynthia is a force to be reckoned with. She is first and foremost an educator and a passionate and compassionate advocate for women experiencing birth on their own terms. I cannot say enough about her — so thrilled to see her featured on your blog!

  6. Cynthia helped me connect with a part of me that knew I could have a peaceful and natural birth without all of the medical intervention, and empowered me to change course. I have attended many of her various workshops and each one has made an impact on me. Thank you Cynthia for all that you do!

  7. I really enjoyed this piece. Cynthia’s class was invaluable to my wife’s and my positive birthing experiences. So much so, that we gifted Cynthia’s class to my sister, who then changed course from her intended hospital birth, and instead had two successful home births. We consider Cynthia a true champion of the empowered birthing and natural living movements, and thank you, Dan, for calling attention to her life-changing work.

  8. I am a huge advocate of Cynthia’s HypnoBirthing class! I took it 3 years ago, and at the time, I was truly terrified of the thought of giving birth! I imagined birth to be agonizing and difficult to endure. But the visualization techniques, meditations and breathing exercises I learned in her class, resulted in a labor that was peaceful and free of pain… and so much easier than I had ever previously thought possible!

  9. Rebecca Sullivan

    Cynthia’s class made me excited to give birth. She provided me and my husband with the education and tools necessary to make our own decisions as to what type of birth we wanted to have, as opposed to being told what type of birth we should have. Thank you, Cynthia for providing this essential service!

  10. Cynthia’s class was truly eye-opening, empowering and life-changing. Her classes, workshops and support groups offer women support no matter where they are in their journey through pregnancy, childbirth or postpartum. Thank you for highlighting the amazing resource that Cynthia provides for women (and their partners as well!).

  11. Patricia Doherty

    Cynthia’s ICAN support group helped me find a new provider for my unmedicated VBAC two years ago, (After my doctor at Stamford hospital gave me 15% chance of success.)There is no other place I know of that gives mothers a place to learn this type of information and support.

  12. As a doula and yoga and meditation teacher who studied stress for many years, I walked away from Cynthia’s classes feeling more confident, relaxed and totally at peace. Cynthia gives 150% to her clients! She is passionate about her work. I find her to be steeped in the latest, cutting edge research on all topics related to childbirth and infant and Mother care. I plan to treat my daughter and son-in-law to her training when they become pregnant. Cynthia is fabulous!

  13. Bravo to Cynthia for the incredible work she’s doing to empower and educate women about their rights and choices! I whole-heartedly support her philosophy and mission and she’s clearly helped a LOT of people.

    One thing… I wish all women would PLEASE be careful of saying things like “I wanted to birth my own baby, unless there was a huge reason not to.”

    I delivered all three of my children via c-sections (and I promise you, none were for cosmetic or superficial reasons) and I feel very confident that despite their delivery method, I did in fact birth my babies.

    Maybe it’s semantics – how are we defining the verb ‘birth?’ – but with such a personal topic, I’d be cautious about using language that implies one experience of giving birth is “superior.”

  14. Wonderful comment, Kris. That was to say, I wanted to birth my baby *naturally* without a *compelling* reason to birth medically or surgically. C-sections are the blessing of the modern era, when used in the interest of the mother and baby. I have learned we can all be at peace with a c-section once we trust it’s necessary, and it’s the perceived unnecessary interventions that leave women ill at ease. Thank you again for encouraging this clarification from me, as it’s a very important one.

    • Cynthia, thank you so much for your thoughtful response… it’s much appreciated!

  15. Adrian Hinojos

    Dan, kudos to you for writing about this. It is a very interesting topic about a moment in life that stays with you forever. I would like to add that from a FATHER’s standpoint, birthing could be a very beautiful thing. I truly believe that my daughter and I bonded in a very special way because I was able to hold her very close to my chest just seconds after being born. Cynthia is doing an amazing job educating parents!

  16. Jennifer Clark

    I am neurotic, anxious, and true to myself (I’m pretty awesome too) and the unknowns of pregnancy, childbirth, and newborns had me scared crapless. So, what did my husband and I do?! We found Cynthia! We traveled from Westchester to attend her Hypnobirthing class and my oh my what a worthy trip it was. My husband and I are still married (laugh), and we have a darling & handsome 3-month old baby boy named Spencer. By the time class had wrapped, the only thing left unknown was when the baby was going to arrive. My questions had been answered, my thought-process had been changed, my nerves had been calmed, my lungs got to fill with air, my husband got to see me smile, and I actually found myself looking forward to labor time. Cynthia offers an environment that breeds confidence, love, friendship, knowledge, and life. Every single expecting parent should be so lucky to experience what my husband and I were able to. We love you Cynthia!

  17. Beautiful article! Cynthia’s workshops were amazing! I could never have felt as empowered as I did had I not attended her hypnobirthing classes! Thank you Cynthia!

  18. Erin McMahon CNM

    Cynthia shares her knowledge, fosters confidence and helps women develop skills for birth and life. The midwifery community is grateful for your commitment and dedication.

  19. Cynthia is an incredible resource in our community. A true champion for taking control of your pregnancy and birth, as well as providing access to a supportive community of others in the same stage of life. She helped me to overcome my own fear and anxiety, and prepare myself for what will always be one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life.

  20. I also took Cynthia’s postpartum “Life After Birth” program. It was a support group that made all the difference in my journey to becoming a new mom. I wold have felt so alone without it! Anyone looking for support once baby arrives, and to meet a wonderful group of women, should definitely check it out.

  21. Amanda Almstead

    I took Cynthia’s class 6 years ago, before the birth of my first child, and again 3 years ago before the my second daughter was born. It was a life changing experience! Not only did I have two unmedicated births outside a hospital, but the knowledge she shared during those classes had an impact on our family’s approach to making informed decisions about our health. I’m so grateful to have had her as a teacher!

  22. Kristie Googin

    Our experience with Cynthia completely altered our pregnancy, labor and delivery and the very real, raw, amazing and scary journey of life after birth. I’m forever grateful to her for all she taught us and love and support she has given us!

  23. Sandy Beyerly

    I was lucky to have found Cynthia before I delivered my first child in 2011. Once my husband and I took her Hypnobirthing class we felt very educated about my pregnancy and delivery options. I chose to have home births for all three of my children since taking her class! Originally I planned a hospital birth with a large practice of doctors whom I did not know well. Once I found my home birth midwife and started using the Hypnobirthing techniques, I felt empowered to delivery my babies the way I wanted, in any position I wanted and in the loving and calm atmosphere I craved (which ended up being in our home).

    Since then I have been fortunate to continue to go back to HBCT for workshops and a parenting book club. Cynthia has created an atmosphere of care and respect for everyone who comes through her door!

  24. Empowered is exactly how Cynthia made me feel during her amazing course! It altered my perspective on childbirth, medicine and parenting. I am so grateful I stumbled upon her amazing class. What a great article suppporting her!

  25. An amazing place and amazing people running it. Cynthia Overgard, the founder, not only is an expert in the area of birthing, and dealing with the challenges of the initial stages of parenthood, but also a beautiful human being with lots of wisdom, compassion, exceptional listening skills and a huge heart. She made a world of difference in our lives. We dealt with some big challenges in the initial stages of parenthood and Cynthia, and her equally kind and compassionate partner Natalie provided the necessary support for us to become a strong and happy family unit we are today. Cannot thank them enough and cannot recommend the place strongly enough.