Have you ever noticed that the minute some people find out you’re pregnant it seems all they want to do is tell you about everything that can and did go wrong in their own experience? And at a time when you really need them, there seems to be very few women around sharing positive stories about birthing and parenting.
The way we talk about birthing has an enormous impact on the way we think about birthing.
Words commonly associated with birthing, such as ‘contraction’, have long standing connotations, of pain and of being out of control; these words are generally fear inducing for most women.
Changing the words we use to talk about birthing will help women and their partners to acknowledge that this is a natural process, that their bodies have been ‘designed’ to do the job and they have within them natural resources that will help them manage and work with the process.
It is important to remember during your pregnancy that everyone’s birth experience is different. Every woman’s body deals with the process of childbirth in its own way, each baby’s birth is a unique journey and each subsequent labour is different for the same woman.
However, at a time when you are emotionally vulnerable and prone to assessing every possible risk involved, it is very helpful to have some well-founded skills to protect yourself and your baby from the stress of negative birthing images.
One way of changing the pattern of fear associated with childbirth terminology is through hypnosis. The use of hypnosis for childbirth is not a new concept or technique but neither is it mainstream.
Women looking for a more positive approach to childbirth are attracted to the idea of using hypnosis during pregnancy and labour for a variety of reasons. One is that their hypno-birthing classes provide them with tools for warding off the horror stories and negative images provided by well meaning friends and family.
Through self-hypnosis, women and their partners can create a mind-set for themselves that allows them to set aside other people’s stories and focus on their own preparations. A great deal of research supports the view that maternal anxiety is directly related to physical and emotional difficulty during birthing.
Women who use hypnosis during labour experience much lower levels of pain and anxiety, and have powerful post-hypnotic suggestions that can actually reduce or eliminate fear.
The physical and biochemical basis for this effect is easily understood and should be fully explained by your practitioner.
Learning and practicing self-hypnosis during pregnancy has wonderful benefits for both you and your baby; you will feel more relaxed and at ease with the changes in your body and your life, you will have more energy, despite it being sapped by your growing baby, and you will feel empowered and in control and able to deal effectively with any negative information provided by other people. In addition, your baby will be protected from the stress of the outside world because your body will pass all of the natural feel-good hormones (endorphins) created by your relaxation and positive attitude across the placenta to your baby where it will almost literally bathe in calmness – imagine floating in pure relaxation, completely protected from the outside world.
The most wonderful thing about hypnosis is that it is easy; almost anyone who wants to can achieve and be helped by hypnosis. Although there are around 5% of people who do not respond to hypnotic suggestion or hypnotherapy, everyone can benefit from learning relaxation techniques. Even if you discovered that the hypnosis wasn’t as effective as you were hoping, other things that you should learn in your hypno-birthing classes, will be invaluable in helping you remain calm and in control during labour.
Hypnosis for pregnancy and childbirth can be used in a number of different ways:
– as therapy (hypnotherapy) for dealing with fear and anxiety;
– as a method for training the mind to shut off or ignore pain sensations;
– as a method for achieving deep relaxation;
– to help the new parents be accepting of the changes in their lives and build up resilience against postnatal depression.
How effective is hypnosis for childbirth? Using the techniques taught in your hypno-birthing classes does not guarantee you a pain-free birth, but it will put you in an excellent position to work with your body and have a positive birthing experience. The natural process of birth can be much more relaxed and comfortable if women have proper preparation and trust in the natural process. Many women have painless births this way. Using hypnosis for childbirth is not an ‘all or nothing’ path, the outcome will depend on what you would like to use the hypnosis for and how much you practice the techniques suggested.
These are some of the benefits of using hypnosis during childbirth:
Reduction of the risk of adverse effects to the mother and newborn via administering fewer drugs or none at all.
- Shorter labours – birthing muscles respond less to pain as they don’t have to tighten in response to it.
- Time distortion through deep relaxation means that labour seems shorter.
- The left frontal cortex becomes the center of calmer brain activity rather than the right frontal cortex which is more prone to stress. This shifting tends to decrease the negative effects of the stress response and anxiety. There is also a lessening of activity associated with the amygdala, the fear processing part of the brain.
- Relaxation during the birthing process results in an awake, energized mother.
- A calm, welcoming and peaceful birthing environment.
- Turning breech and posterior babies with hypnosis is possible.
- Fewer interventions – During labour there are fewer complications.
- Babies who sleep and feed better, since their systems contain fewer sedatives and more feel-good hormones.
Hypnosis also has many wonderful benefits during pregnancy and can be used to help with nausea, fatigue, leg cramps and heartburn as well as the physical and emotional benefits of deep relaxation for both mother and baby.
It is also important to note that hypnosis alone will not ‘deliver’ the ideal birth. When placed in the right context of education about the human body, health and wellbeing and the process of natural labour, hypnosis can be a powerful tool for achieving the calm and confident state of mind vital to a positive birthing experience.
These techniques work just as well for first, second, third and even fourth time Mums, each are able to set aside any fears or negative thoughts they held about birthing and birth their baby very calmly and comfortably.
Programs that teach hypnosis for childbirth do not just focus on hypnosis and relaxation. You will have the opportunity to learn about other natural therapies, physiology, anatomy and biochemistry of pregnancy and birth, natural and medical choices. Ensure you choose an evidence-based program founded on principles of psychology and mind-body medicine. This means that the skills taught by your practitioner have been shown by research to be useful and effective in pregnancy, birthing or for deep relaxation.