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Meet Zina Aghdasi of Boston HypnoBirthing in Milton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Zina Aghdasi.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Zina. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Boston HypnoBirthing arose from the idea that quality education can help families make informed and empowered decisions for themselves and with their health care providers for positive perinatal outcomes. Too often, pregnancy, birth and infant feeding practices are dictated by a medical model of care that is focused almost exclusively on pathology and treatment. We treat these typically normal life processes as though they were illnesses or diseases, disregarding women’s preferences, comforts, belief systems, values, and lifestyles. Additionally, women are often subjected to unnecessary, inappropriate or simply unwanted interventions that can impact their emotional and physical well-being as well as their baby’s. For example, nearly one out of three babies born in the US is born via cesarean section and nearly a quarter of all singleton labors are artificially induced. That’s really high and goes against many recommendations from major health centers like the WHO and CDC. That’s not to say a small percentage of pregnancies, like those diagnosed as ‘high risk’ or characterized by having special circumstances do not sometimes benefit from these interventions. However, for many moms they may be unnecessary, pose additional risks for several complications, go against their preferences, and cause a great deal of fear and anxiety. The problem is that maternity care is often not patient-centered and women have limited access to non-pharmacological techniques for labor management.

These issues became relevant to me when I was pregnant with my first child in 2011. Years earlier, I was diagnosed with a health condition that affects fertility and was prepared for the possibility that parenthood might only be conceivable through expensive fertility treatments or adoption. Pregnancy came as a surprise as it occurred without assisted reproductive methods. The miracle of my healthy pregnancy, however, was overshadowed by the interventionist style of medicine that my award-winning obstetrician practiced. I became increasingly unhappy with the quality of my prenatal care, and knew that my preferences were secondary to my doctor’s as I was pressured into several unnecessary tests and procedures and faced her nearly 40% cesarean rate. I left her practice at 35 weeks pregnant and joined a midwifery group and birth center that focused on woman-centered maternity care. I gave birth naturally to a healthy baby boy a few weeks later in their homelike birth center where I felt confident and cared for. I had employed many of the techniques I had learned in a HypnoBirthing class that helped me cope with every stage of labor without the use of drugs. After that life-changing experience, it was clear that birth doesn’t have to be treated like an affliction. It can be a positive, joyful, and dignified moment, where couples’ wishes are respected and where a mother feels empowered over her body and choices. I went on to have two more children -my second was born on the side of the road on the way to the birth center, and my third was born at home – and became certified as a childbirth educator and lactation counselor. I founded Boston HypnoBirthing to help maternity consumers in the Greater Boston Area participate in informed decision-making and have access to evidence-based support.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Being a ‘mamapreneur’ requires balance with managing a household and running a sole proprietorship. When you have three young children, finding a balance can prove challenging. I think it’s safe to assume that prioritizing family life is key to achieving a happy medium –if your core is not stable you can never find a true balance even if both feet are equally planted at home and at work. Luckily for me, the Boston HypnoBirthing studio is located directly under the main level of our home, so I don’t have far to go to preserve that stability. -It’s also helpful, as my youngest occasionally makes an appearance in class to nurse.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Boston HypnoBirthing offers childbirth classes, breastfeeding education and counseling, and postpartum support to families, medical professionals, and the community at large. We specialize in holistic, evidence-based care that centers around our families’ preferences and values. Our studio is located in Milton, within walking distance to Dorchester, Hyde Park, Mattapan, and a short drive to downtown Boston, Jamaica Plain, Cambridge, Brookline, Quincy and the South Shore.

We are most known for our HypnoBirthing classes, welcoming pregnant women and their birth partners from around the Greater Boston Area. HypnoBirthing is a comprehensive childbirth preparation program that helps all women learn how to stay calm, comfortable, and focused, regardless of where they choose to birth and whether their labor journey involves medical interventions. Couples learn relaxation, breathing, and visualization techniques; what can or cannot be controlled during the labor and delivery processes; and what are the rights and choices afforded to them so that they can make informed decisions.

We are most proud of the fact that couples leave our programs with a greater sense of the type of birth they want to have and the kind of care they expect from their healthcare providers, as well as a toolbox of techniques to help them prepare for the calmest, joyful, and empowering birth possible. Their birth experiences speak volumes -our mothers and partners report having greater physical comfort and emotional satisfaction, higher rates of natural births, lower rates of mechanical deliveries and use of labor medications.

What sets us apart is our dedication to our clients -our studio is comfortable, we provide healthy snacks at every class, and offer ongoing email and phone support. -We’re always there for our moms and dads, often answering last minute concerns late at night or on the day of their labor. Additionally, we do not sell products, do not have any relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, and are not influenced by dogmatic medical practices. We will always offer only the very best evidence-based care.

What were you like growing up?
My mother came to this country from Iraq as a refugee whose parents were persecuted and imprisoned as prisoners of conscious in their homeland for being members of the Baha’i Faith. My father, of Celtic heritage, is a native of Massachusetts. Their unique experiences and cultural backgrounds greatly influenced my upbringing. I developed an appreciation for differences, cultures, languages, belief systems, and issues of social justice. It is actually fitting that I now support public policies related to maternal-child health, and work with diverse groups of women and families who come from a multitude of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. In one room, I have parents who are doctors, teachers, contractors, venture capitalists, custodians, researchers, cashiers, local celebrities, students, unemployed – people with Ivy League degrees, people with no degrees, native born Americans, and individuals who are citizens of other nations and for whom English is a second language. I feel right at home.

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