It is 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.
Hypnosis for Childbirth
To Milton Erickson, a highly skilled and world famous hypnotherapist, hypnosis is the way two people respond to each other, nothing more or less (Haley, 1986). There is not necessarily the need for a deep trance or a formal initiation such as counting backwards or swinging a watch. Hypnosis is simply a form of communication that, when used in hypnotherapy, allows one person to suggest to the other that they may wish to correct or change the way they think and behave. A person acting under hypnosis is not under anyone else’s control and will not change or do anything if they do not wish to.
The most wonderful thing about hypnosis is that it is easy; almost anyone who wants to can achieve and be helped by hypnosis or hypnotherapy.
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.
Can women really give birth without experiencing pain? Yes, however there are many variables in labour and birth that can affect the outcome, and couples need to have a positive but realistic view of hypnosis for childbirth. Each pregnant woman and her partner need to feel empowered about the choices they have during labour and how they might interact with their caregivers to achieve the best outcome for mother and baby. Many a wonderful birth has been thwarted by not realizing how to make positive, informed choices, and yet these issues are easily addressed and learned in a good parent oriented childbirth class (Dick-Read, 2004). Choosing a class that also incorporates hypnosis will help you focus your energy and awareness towards a positive birthing outcome. A great deal of research supports the view that maternal anxiety is directly related to physical and emotional difficulty during pregnancy and birthing (Pratt, Wood & Alman, 1988). Without a doubt, women using hypnosis are much calmer and more relaxed during labour, which automatically creates more comfort, as well as having ‘powerful’ post-hypnotic suggestions to actually reduce or eliminate pain and fear. The physical and biochemical basis for this effect is easily understood and should be fully explained by your hypnosis practitioner or hypnotherapist.
How effective is hypnosis for childbirth? Statistics will vary by the program and method chosen, depending on the length and number of hypnosis sessions, the materials used in each, and the skill of the hypnotherapist or teacher, as well as the commitment to the program of each birthing couple. Ideally, hypnosis for childbirth instructors will have backgrounds in both hypnotherapy and childbirth education and perhaps psychology, and be able to address each woman’s personal needs. With adequate preparation and trust in the natural process of birth, most women can have much more relaxed and comfortable births, with many actually free of pain (this doesn’t exclude hard work!).
Benefits of using hypnosis for childbirth:
– Fewer drugs or no drugs at all mean less risk of side effects on mother and baby.
– Shorter labours – resistance of the birthing muscles as a response to pain is minimised or eliminated.
– An awake, energized mother, ready to bond, as a result of relaxation throughout the birthing process.
– A calm, peaceful and welcoming birthing environment.
– Breech and posterior babies can be turned using hypnosis.
– Fewer interventions and complications during labour.
– Babies who are better sleepers and feeders due to fewer drugs in their systems and more feel good hormones they get from Mum.
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 (Streeter, 2004). A good childbirth program will provide a CD and also teach your partner how to help you into deep relaxation so you don’t have to wait for the next class or session in order to benefit from the methods.
o Dick-Read, G. (2004). Childbirth Without Fear. Printer and Martin, London.
o Haley, J. (1986). Uncommon Therapy: The Psychiatric Techniques of Milton Erickson MD. W. W. Norton and Company, New York.
o Pratt, G., Wood., & Alman, B. (1988). A Clinical Hypnosis Primer. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., Canada.
o Streeter, M. (2004). Hypnosis: Unlock the Power of Your Mind. ABC Books, Sydney.