Hypnosis is the epitome of mind-body medicine. It can enable the mind to tell the body how to react, and modify the messages that the body sends to the mind.Jane E. Brody
First of all, you need to know that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. No one can hypnotize you against your will, or make you do or think anything that you don’t want to do or think. Hypnosis is a completely natural state of mind that all people experience several times in a day. For example, each of the following is a natural and familiar form of hypnosis:
- Becoming so focused on a book or game that you lose track of the outside world
- Having an emotional response while deeply engaged in a movie or television show
- Using your imagination to visualize and daydream
- Relaxing your mind and body as you fall asleep at night
- Meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and prayer
Most women, whether they are conscious of it or not, are holding on to a lot of fear about pregnancy, birth and parenting. I remember being heavily pregnant with my first son, standing in a bookstore and flipping through the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting. When I got to the chapter about crowning, tearing, episiotomy, hemorrhage and stitches… guess what happened? I passed out on the floor, my head full of fears that I had never had a chance to address or process. Without the ability to work through and release these negative images and ideas, I carried them into my birth and had little ability to cope as I found the unwanted scenarios unfolding in my own experience.
Have you ever heard the following statements?
- “Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want”
- “Whatever you resist, persists”
- “Whatever you focus on, you bring to yourself”
Fear is one of the overriding responses to the idea of childbirth in our culture. All women worry about their births, and some may experience actual panic when they imagine what’s to come; their brains release the hormones cortisol and adrenaline, causing their muscles to become tense as their heart rates increase. During labor, fear can create tension, which creates pain, then more fear, and the cycle continues. Fear and anxiety can also create adrenaline production in the body, causing birth to stall or become dysfunctional, a common reason for Cesarean birth. Freedom from fear can make a significant difference in the birthing experience.
It’s normal for an expecting mother to have worries, doubts and fears. “What if something happens to my baby?”, “What if something bad happens to me?”, “Will my baby be healthy?”, “Will I be a good mother?” It’s ok to have these worries. You don’t need to be afraid of your fears. You just need to be aware of them, to work through them, and ultimately move beyond them, and hypnosis can help you do that. Some of those sources of our birthing fears may be:
- Television and movies depicting birth as comical and icky, or terrifying and dangerous
- Friends and family sharing frightening or negative birth stories
- Others pressuring you to birth the way they think is best, when it might not be what you want or need
- Medical care providers who view birth as a medical condition and a disaster waiting to happen
- Social media and the cruel anonymity of the internet.
- A history of sexual abuse or trauma
- Your own previous birth experiences, which may have been negative, upsetting or traumatic
As a result of these pervasive negative messages, many women have fears that can be summed up like this: “I don’t think I can handle this” and “what if something goes wrong?” At the same time, most pregnant women are also excited and happy about bringing a baby into the world. The dichotomy between their love and excitement for their baby, and the fear and worry they experience about the birth can be confusing and difficult to process. Hypnosis can help you move beyond the fear and focus on a positive expectancy surrounding pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and parenting.
Benefits of using Hypnosis for Childbirth
- Better sleep during pregnancy and postpartum; easier time falling and staying asleep
- Less anxiety, both about birth and in general
- Enhanced prenatal bonding between mother, baby and partner
- Reduced pregnancy discomfort and stress
- Shorter labors as a result of relaxation. Learn to work with your body, rather than fighting it
- Fewer drugs or no pain-relieving or labor augmenting drugs (Harmon, Hynan, & Tyre, 1990)
- Greater feeling of security and less fear during birth (Tiba, Frater, Balogh, & Bognarne Varfalvi, 1985)
- More comfortable birth experience, or decreased pain sensation (Dillenburger & Keenan, 1996; Barber, 1996; Oster, 1994; D’Eon, 1989; South, 1988; Mairs, 1995)
- Fewer interventions and complications during labor (Mehl, Donovan, & Peterson, 1990)
- Facilitates optimal fetal positioning, reducing breech and posterior births
- A smoother transition in to motherhood and an easier time bonding with the new baby
- Faster recovery and a greatly decreased incidence of postpartum depression.
In hypnosis you learn to access your subconscious mind; that suggestible, powerful part of your brain where real, lasting changes can be made. With consistent practice, you’ll be able to use hypnosis to reprogram your mind in a positive way to release fears and doubts, and to replace negativity with confidence and calm.