What is hypnobirthing?
The origins of hypnobirthing lie in hypnosis and specifically its use as pain relief.
Use of hypnosis in medicine actually has a long history. It was approved by the British Medical Association as a form of pain relief in 1955. A 1955 report (commissioned by the Psychological Medical Group of the British Medical Council) concluded that:
“in addition to the treatment of psychiatric disabilities, there is a place for hypnotism in the production of anaesthesia or analgesia for surgical and dental operation, and in suitable subjects it is an effective method of relieving pain in childbirth without altering the normal course of Labour.”
The report was published in the British Medical Journal, entitled ‘Medical use of Hypnotism’.
Other studies have found that even when imagining your body is making a movement or action, the neurons in your brain that are responsible for instructing your body to carry out the action are still activated and strengthened, therefore done frequently you will still experience an increase in muscular strength without actually ‘doing’ anything.
Sadly, I don't think that means you can skip the gym and still get a six pack!
But imagine how amazing that could be in your labour by visualising and telling your body to relax, release and soften it actually will.
So how is hypnosis used in labour?
In simple terms hypnosis is an 'alternated state of consciousness’. This simply means that when we are very relaxed, the conscious part of our minds will move to one side, allowing the unconscious part of our minds to receive beneficial suggestions.
“Hypnosis is nothing more than suggestive words. Words full of positivity and focus, to allow you to let go of some of the negative words you may have picked up throughout your lifetime!”
In essence, hypnobirthing is a form of self-hypnosis, training you to switch off your logical, thinking, conscious mind and tune into your unconscious mind, and flooding it with positive words, sensations and visualisations about birth to reinforce to you and your body that you can and will have a positive birth experience. Just like in hypnosis, the core hypnobirthing technique is guided relaxation scripts and recordings. These will also often use visualisations. When you start your practice you’ll be guided through hypnosis with these scripts but after frequent practice you’ll develop the ability to put yourself into a state of deep relaxation.
Mums who have powerful hypnobirths tend to say they perceived their contractions to be less painful, the sensations didn’t overwhelm them, they felt in control, they felt in tune with their bodies and they felt empowered.
Anchoring is also used in hypnobirthing. It simply means that, in hypnosis, you learn a trigger that can be used quickly and easily to achieve calm, deep relaxation. It could be music, sights, smells, touch etc. One way I do this is to start all my scripts with the same introduction and another is that all of them have the same backing track. If an expectant woman listens to her scripts frequently enough, just hearing the backing music in her labour will start to bring on sensations of deep relaxation and calm.
Re-framing and the power of language is another technique that acknowledges that words and perceptions can have a powerful influence on physical reactions. I try to dispel myths about childbirth and through my classes and hypnobirthing tracks help women release negative perceptions and feelings around childbirth.
Positive affirmations take this a step further by focusing your mind on positive language and building on the strength of the relaxation tracks. They can give a strong focus to a birthing woman and provide inspiration for your birth partner to use on the day.
Through frequent repetition and practice of hypnobirthing scripts you can build confidence and a sense of calm around the anticipation of your birth. When combined with quality education to understand the process of birth and just how powerful your body is and what it is capable of - you can then start to trust your ability to give birth. Therefore you will approach your birth feeling informed, confident, calm and even empowered - and this is an ideal mindset to have at the start. Then using the same scripts, music, breathing techniques or visualisations throughout labour you can help maintain those lovely sensations.
If you have any questions about hypnobirthing or my courses do email me to chat further: firstname.lastname@example.org