Susan McClutchey was thrilled when she and her husband found out they were pregnant with their first child. She also was terrified, especially about what would come nine months later - the experience of labor and delivery.
A researcher by day, she began looking into her options for a pain-free birth.
"I began researching epidurals and other medical interventions in an effort to calm my fears, but I discovered there were far more potential risks involved than I had realized," she tells me. "I changed my approach to researching childbirth techniques that could help me minimize discomfort and my need for medical interventions."
That's when she landed on childbirth hypnosis.
And let's stop right there for a second. She's heard from the skeptics. In fact, she was a skeptic herself. As she labored with her first child, she fully expected to use pain relief. A drug-free birth wasn't part of her original plan.
She described the feelings during her first birth as "intense" and "powerful," kind of like a giant blood pressure cuff around her waist, but always manageable.
"I really went into my first birth thinking I really don't think this is going to work, but I don't really have anything to lose," she said, remembering the experience as "calm," "happy" and "comfortable." She never asked for pain medication.
She wondered if it was all a fluke, but she tried it again with her second child, using a new program called Hypnobabies Childbirth Hypnosis. As she labored for a second time, she worked on her taxes.
"It was actually fun," said McClutchey, who now has three children. "We really enjoyed our birth."
That's when McClutchey's husband suggested she teach other moms-to-be the same techniques. McClutchey completed the Hypnobabies instructor training and has been teaching the program since 2004. Her business is called Tranquil Birthing.
McClutchey teaches expecting moms and their partners techniques for self-hypnosis. Hypnosis, McClutchey says, encourages our body to create endorphins, which makes us more calm and happy, which can turn the labor experience into a pleasant one.
The program has other applications as well and can help pregnant women relax, get more sleep and suffer less from back pain and other pregnancy-related ailments, she said.
"Women experience a much more comfortable pregnancy," she said.
McClutchey teaches classes from her Durham home. And she works with other local Hypnobabies instructors to help fill a growing interest in the program.
"I love working with expectant parents and helping them bring their babies into the world with confidence and joy," she said.
To hear more from McClutchey about Hypnobabies and her program, watch my video interview with her and go to her website.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.