Hypnotherapy helping childbirth

pregnant 300x199 Hypnotherapy helping childbirthHypnosis and childbirth

A hypnotic state is a completely natural state that we all go into at least twice a day. That moment between sleeping and waking, when we are semi aware of what is going on around us but we do not react, even though we could. That moment when we are “miles away” and do not even hear someone speaking directly to us. Those times when we have driven home and wondered where the last few miles have gone as were completely unaware of them. All these are examples of trance states.

And in trance states we become extremely suggestible. Have you ever heard a song on the radio in the morning and cannot get it out of your head all day? That’s because it went straight into your head when you heard it. It bypassed the “critical factor” of your mind. This critical factor is your filter, which rejects ideas, statements, suggestions that do not accord with what you believe. If someone told you that they had just been to a place where the grass was blue, your critical factor, your filter, would filter out this idea and reject it because it does not accord with the belief system you have built up. Every blade of grass you have ever seen was green and as far as you know, every other person you know has only ever seen green grass, and that is the way life is – grass is green. We build up our critical factor through experience. It starts as a baby, when you drop the toy out of the pram it goes down. Every time. The toy never goes up. Hey presto, you have learnt about gravity. The critical factor of gravity has been created in your mind.

The associations and fear of giving birth

Unfortunately in the western world, very many women have built up a negative critical factor surrounding childbirth. When mothers talk about their birth experience they relish telling the most difficult bits, as if it were a competition – “I’m so tough because I endured 24 hours of labour.” “No, I’m harder. I suffered for 30 hours and had no pain relief and the hospital didn’t even believe me….” “Well you should hear about my aunty. She had her second twin 30 hours after the first! With no pain relief – she was in AGONY.” And so it goes on. Every TV drama or soap opera films a character giving birth in a screaming agony of pain. As children, childbirth is not talked about, kept behind closed doors. We never learn what it is really like. The conspiracy of fear has started.

So as we carry on through our teenage years, childbirth is not something that usually features. We can put the fear behind us, although every screaming labouring actress on the scream contributes to the critical factor that we are building up – childbirth is painful, VERY painful. Until one day we become pregnant ourselves. And then we cannot ignore it any longer, we WILL be giving birth to our baby. So we buy a few books. What do they talk about? PAIN relief. We go to antenatal classes. What do we learn there? How to manage PAIN. How to manage LABOUR.

And what associations do we have with the words employed for birth? The word Labour conjures up words such as work, hard, tough. What do you think of for the word Hospital? Most people think of sickness, illness, pain. Many midwives talk about labour pains. Many will assume that a labouring woman wants pain relief and ask her immediately what she would like “for the pain.”

We have been conditioned to expect that labour is long, arduous, agonising. When you enter any experience with an expectation, it is very often the case that your expectation is proved correct. If you expect a long, agonising labour, where you feel helpless and out of control then it is very possible that you will have a labour just like that.

Would it surprise you to know that this does not have to be the case? Women in many countries around the world give birth without the drama and screaming that we in the West associate with childbirth. When you use hypnosis in the process of birthing you stand to gain so much. Research has shown that birthing with hypnosis can help to achieve the following:

Faster labour
Efficient labour
Pain relief
Less interventions
A relaxed and healthy baby/less chance of distress
Faster recovery
Reduced incidence of post-natal depression
Breast-feeding success

Isn’t this what every pregnant woman wants?! A comfortable birth, with a healthy baby and a swift recovery. So how does hypnosis ( hypnotherapy) help child birth?

1. Hypnotherapy Helps Relaxation
The state of hypnosis is highly relaxing for the mind and body. In this state the entire body relaxes and so do the blood vessels. This relaxing or dilation of the blood vessels ensures a better blood flow throughout the body and especially to the womb.

2. Hypnosis Assists An Efficient Birth
During labour, a relaxed body will ensure that blood is diverted to the uterus in order that it can contract efficiently and progress labour smoothly and swiftly. A relaxed mind and body will ensure that the womb has the blood supply it needs. Post-natally a better milk supply is encouraged through good blood flow.

3. Hypnotherapy Can Calm Emotions During Childbirth
The effect on the mind and emotions is profound. With hypnotherapy a woman can relieve stress and anxiety. This relief can help to achieve a calm birthing experience and later calm the emotions during the post-natal period.

4. Overcome Fear With Hypnosis
Fear is the single greatest factor that you can change about your labour. Fear inhibits labour, constricts the blood supply and increases the perception of pain. This leads to the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle, where fear creates tension, which creates pain, which creates more fear of pain and so it goes on. If you can remove fear then you can aid your own body to do what comes naturally and that is to birth a baby comfortably and easily.

5. Hypnotherapy Helping Stress Relief
When we are stressed or fearful we release adrenaline and other stress hormones into the blood stream. This tenses our bodies and a tense body feels pain and creates its own pain. Blood rushes to the arms and legs ready to fight or run, taking blood away from the uterus where it is needed to help the uterus to contract. If there is not enough blood flow to the uterus, it works less efficiently and slower and blood flow to the baby can be disrupted, resulting eventually in distress. Other blood vessels can be constricted, again stopping the uterus from working well. You can see that when hypnosis removes stress from the experience of childbirth, then a swift, comfortable birth of a relaxed baby will normally result.

6. Hypnosis Produces A Relaxed Baby
A tense mother will release stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream. These can in turn stress the baby, who then appears distressed to medical staff and interventions can result in order to speed up labour or bring the baby out quickly. Babies are designed to withstand many hours of labour and a relaxed baby will cope well even if labour does not progress as smoothly or quickly as hoped.

7. Hypnosis Can Help Post-Natal Recovery
A relaxed mother will have good blood flow around the body. This blood flow will assist soft tissues in recovery and promote a good milk supply. Stress is known to have an adverse effect on milk production so the relaxed mother has a head start.

By using hypnosis, a mother in labour can help herself to remain calm. Blood flow is improved and comfort increased. A relaxed mind and body can ease a labour to feel in control and positive. This good perception of labour and good blood flow will help post-natal recovery and the production of milk.

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One Response to “Hypnotherapy helping childbirth”

  1. Theresa greenwood Says:

    The article about Hypnobirthing in childbirth is certainly thought provoking. The discussion on hormones is a topic midwives are familiar with and the “fight or flight” mechanism we all have can be managed during labour with good support from birth partners/midwives and of course a positive mental state from the mother. As a midwife I am particularly interested in anything that can empower a woman to cope with labour. While it is true that a positive mental attitude and relaxation techniques can only help with labour, I would be concerned that women could have high expectations of Hypnobirthing and still feel they had let themselves down if their birth had not gone to plan. There are reasons despite the best prepared mother that birth doesn’t always go to plan and many of those reasons are beyond a mother’s control. Hypnobirthing could certainly work well for some, I think it’s important that the woman continues to work with her midwife and the preparations for birth are realistic and informed.

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