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.
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.
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.”
“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 info@hypnobirthingCT.com. Hat tip: Michael Goodman)
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