Finding ways to minimize the pain of childbirth is nothing new. There have been various programs and methods such as Lamaze®, Bradley Method® and more, all designed for natural and pain reduced childbirth.
Hypnosis for birthing is another method that has been around for many years that is now utilized more and more.
A Dr. Fernand Lamaze witnessed a birth using psychoprophylaxis (developed primarily by psychotherapist I.Z Velvolvskii in Ukraine) while visiting the Soviet Union. He was so impressed by the results he took what he learned back to his home country of France and devoted his life to this method’s promotion. We now refer to it as the Lamaze® technique. This technique is actually a form of birthing hypnosis by using distractions during contractions to lessen the perception of pain and provide some relief.
In the 1940’s Dr. Grantley Dick-Read in Britain researched the idea of using hypnosis during childbirth to bring the woman into complete relaxation in order for the body to work as it was meant to during delivery. He would have classes where his pregnant students and their birthing partners could come and learn self-hypnosis with scripts and tapes. They then would return home to practice these techniques prior to delivery.
Hypnosis for birth is currently more common in the UK than in the United States but that is rapidly changing.
Hypnosis works on the subconscious to prepare the body for a more pleasant and uplifting experience by eliminating fear and apprehension during delivery which in turn enhances the body’s relaxation. This relaxation can result in a delivery with reduced pain or without pain altogether.
For a first time mother, there is understandably a great deal of apprehension and fear around the unknown experience of childbirth. She undoubtedly has heard horror stories told by other mothers of their birth experiences and those stories send a signal to the brain that childbirth equals excruciating pain. Now, though we may feel the storytelling by other mothers as being in poor taste, the truth is…childbirth is a rite of passage for many, and telling these stories is similar to men sharing their own battle stories. Hypnosis can work to repair the body’s response to these stories by reframing and using different word references. For instance the word ‘contraction’ would be reframed to ‘energetic wave’. This reframing lessens the volume of apprehension by the brain as an energetic wave is far less threatening as it relates to the definition of a ‘contraction’ during childbirth.
Hypnosis can also be used to connect with parts of the body. The brain is the signal center where all messages are received and sent. Using hypnosis can teach the brain to send more relaxing and calming messages to the uterus during labor which assists the uterus in its work toward giving birth rather than resisting or tensing up which slows the birthing process making the experience more painful. It sounds silly but the uterus responds to the brain’s messages. While it will still do as it is designed, the ‘cellular’ message will be…’childbirth is a threat’ and it will respond appropriately.
The brain also communicates with the baby’s brain through the umbilical cord. The baby will feel the mother’s apprehension and fear and her brain will send messages to her body as well. A baby has just as much to do with the birthing process as the mother and any messages of fear can prevent the baby’s natural response to being born by her own feelings of apprehension and fear. Hypnosis sends messages to the mother’s brain that the baby is safe and not a threat, childbirth is a beautiful and natural experience which in turn is passed to the baby’s brain and body as well. Both Mom and baby can then have a beautiful experience together.
Questions and Answers:
Will the birthing experience be painless using hypnosis?
Childbirth by nature is a painful experience. Some mothers experience more pain than others depending on pain threshold, body composition and other factors. I have heard some women say that their birthing experience was painless due to the birth hypnosis, others have had minimal pain and yet others felt it didn’t work because the experience was very painful. The best suggestion is not to set yourself up for a surprise by not expecting to experience any pain. Hypnosis is designed to minimize pain by relaxing the body during childbirth.
Does the birthing hypnosis instructor need to be present during the delivery?
No. Most do not attend the birth but train the mother self-hypnosis and the father hypnotic suggestions during the delivery. There are some hypnotherapists specializing in birthing hypnosis who choose to offer that option to the couple. Some Midwives and Doulas are certified in hypnosis birthing and use this technique during the delivery.
Is it expensive?
That depends of course on the hypnotherapist, amount of session and other expenses related such as CD’s and scripts. Shop around and you can always remember that the birthing experience is not an everyday occurrence, invest in as many tools as you can afford to make it memorable.
Is hypnosis for birth only used for those wishing to have ‘medication free’ deliveries?
No, hypnosis for birth can be used by anyone regardless of whether or not they will be using medications to minimize pain. An epidural is usually not given until the mother has progressed a bit into labor by being ‘dilated’ to a certain centimeter. Up until that time, it is not unusual to be experiencing pain so hypnosis can be utilized up until that time.
Is hypnosis for birth mostly recommended for first time mothers?
While it is highly recommended for first time mothers, any mother can benefit from this technique. No birthing experience is the same. A mother can have a painless childbirth the first time only to find the second one not as savory.