When you’re looking for a way to have a calm and positive birth experience, ‘hypnosis’ probably won’t jump to mind as the obvious solution. And yet, that is exactly what the ‘hypno’ part of hypnobirthing is all about. Self-hypnosis for birth is one of the most effective tools a hypnomama goes into her birth with!
There are no swinging pendulums or inexplicable powers of control in a hypnobirthing course. It’s time to leave your Hollywood assumptions at the door! Unfortunately movies, TV and stage hypnotists have skewed our perceptions of what hypnosis really is. Based on what you have seen or heard of hypnosis in the past it’s natural to feel some trepidation about investing in a childbirth education course that incorporates hypnosis for birth.
So let’s start by having a look at what hypnosis is actually all about.
A state of hypnosis is much like meditation; your body and conscious mind are relaxed, and your subconscious is focused on a single idea, either through your own guidance, or with the assistance of a facilitator. The aim of hypnosis is to reach the subconscious root of any fears, anxieties or unwanted habits, and to replace these with positive and affirming beliefs and actions for sustainable change.
Now we need to dispel some of the common myths surrounding hypnosis:
Myth 1: When you are in a state of hypnosis you are extremely vulnerable, and are able to be controlled by the hypnotist.
When someone is facilitating your hypnosis they hold no power over your actions – you remain in control. Experiencing hypnosis is your choice. Those in a state of hypnosis remain highly aware of their surroundings and are able to immediately draw themselves out of their meditative state whenever a need arises.
Myth 2: Hypnosis is a deep sleep.
Although people often report awakening from hypnosis feeling as though they have had a restful sleep, hypnosis is not actually a state of sleep.
Myth 3: Only certain people can have success using hypnosis.
The only people who cannot experience hypnosis are those who do not wish to. If your desire to improve your life through hypnotic techniques is genuine then there is no reason why you should not experience success.
What does hypnosis have to do with birth?
Imagine that as you are in labour your mind and body are relaxed. Despite the increasing intensity of surges, your thoughts are focused on how your incredible body is working in perfect harmony with your baby to bring her earthside. Your labour is progressing just as you have been rehearsing in your mind for the last couple of months. You are alert and aware, but you focus your attention so deeply inwards that the only thing that matters is allowing your body to prepare the way for your baby.
The concept of using self-hypnosis for birth is not a new one. Since the English obstetrician Dr Grantly Dick-Read began advocating for natural birthing and published ‘Childbirth Without Fear’ in the 1920s, many courses have taught self-hypnosis as a way of reducing both fear of childbirth and pain in labour.
Reputable scientific studies show that using self-hypnosis in labour (particularly when combined with relaxation, breathing, massage, and acupressure) can greatly decrease interventions, reduce the need for pain medication, and ultimately leads to women reporting increased satisfaction with their birthing experience. (https://hypnobirthingaustralia.com.au/research-statistics-scientific-studies/)
In one particular study:
“Women described their feelings about hypnosis during labor as: a sense of relief and consolation, self-confidence, satisfaction, lack of suffering labor pain, changing the feeling of pain into one of pressure, a decrease in fear of natural childbirth, lack of tiredness, and lack of anxiety. They expressed increased concentration on the uterus and cervical muscle, awareness of all the stages of labor, and having ‘positive thoughts’. Births were perceived as being very satisfactory compared to their previous experiences.”(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19234965?ordinalpos=4&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum)
Can’t I just do some other gentle/calm/positive birth course and get the same results?
There are certainly a lot of great courses out there that equip expectant parents with knowledge of birth and the stages of labour, and even breathing and relaxation techniques to help them achieve a natural birth.
A hypnobirthing course takes this one step further. Remember when we were talking about what hypnosis is actually all about?
The aim of hypnosis is to reach the subconscious root of any fears, anxieties or unwanted habits, and to replace these with positive and affirming beliefs and actions for sustainable change.
It is SO normal in our society for women to be fearful of birth. Hearing horror stories from friends and family members and seeing dramatic births on our screens has ingrained these fears deep into our subconscious. Unfortunately, knowledge alone is not enough to move past these negative thought patterns.
Think of a fear that you have. Maybe it’s spiders. (Yep, that’s me!) If a spider got into your house it wouldn’t matter if your partner told you with confidence that it wasn’t poisonous and wouldn’t harm you. That knowledge alone is not enough to dispel your long-held belief that spiders are dangerous. (And icky!) Your imagination is going wild creating all sorts of scenarios where the spider crawls up your leg, jumps onto your face, or suddenly multiplies into thousands of tiny spiders all coming for you!
So why are we talking about spiders? Simply to show that when there are negative or fearful thoughts about something, to be able to make sustainable positive change we need to go straight to the source of the imagination – your subconscious.
There’s a reason why Hypnobirthing Australia’s audio tracks and affirmations are so popular. By listening to these tracks and practising self-hypnosis at home and in the classes, you are re-programming your subconscious beliefs about birth. You begin to imagine birthing scenarios where you are calm and in control, and feel confidently assured that this will be your experience.
How do I know if using hypnosis for birth is the right approach for me?
The beauty of the Hypnobirthing Australia Positive Birth Program is that it is so inclusive. There are no prerequisites to join a class. You don’t have to have monk-level meditation skills or be a master yogi. (You actually don’t even need to have done either of those before.) You DO NOT need to have a high pain threshold to be able to use hypnosis for a natural birth. All you need is a genuine desire to work for the best birthing experience you can possibly have. And who doesn’t want that? It doesn’t matter if you’re a first time parent, experienced mama looking for a better birth this time around, going for a VBAC, or have special circumstances surrounding your pregnancy and birth – all women deserve to feel empowered going into their birth.
Hypnobirthing is ideal for you if:
- You want the best possible preparation for your birth
- You want a birth experience that you feel proud of
- You want to learn how to harness the power of the mind-body connection
- You have some anxieties surrounding childbirth and this new phase of your life
- You want to feel more connected to your partner at this special time
- Your partner wants to feel included and helpful during pregnancy, labour and birth
- You want to be able to bond with your baby straight away
There’s nothing ‘woo-woo’ or ‘hippy-dippy’ about wanting all of these things. It’s natural, and what all women deserve! So please do Contact Steph to find out more or email a Course Enquiry.