Using hypnosis as a birth preparation tool is becoming increasingly popular and thousands of women would testify to its efficacy. However, sceptics hear the word ‘hypnosis’ and it brings to mind holiday entertainment with unsuspecting members of the audience being made to cluck like chickens or bark like dogs up on stage! Either that, or they assume it’s just ‘mumbo jumbo’, alternative hippy nonsense…so let’s bust that myth!
The use of hypnosis in birthing (hypnobirthing) dates back to the obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read and his BRILLIANT book, Childbirth Without Fear, first published in 1942. In it, he recalls a visit to a labouring woman in Whitechapel, London who declined any pain relief and when asked why by Dr Dick-Read after she’d birthed her baby, she reportedly stated ‘It didn’t hurt, was it meant to Doctor?’ This led the eminent obstetrician to ponder whether pain is a physical thing or a state of mind, i.e. if you think something is going to be painful, it will be and therefore the opposite can also be true.
Marie Mongan, a counsellor from the USA, developed this idea further in 1989, based on her own birth experiences using Grantly Dick-Reads theory of the Fear Tension Pain principle. She eventually came to the UK to spread the hypnobirthing message and practitioners like Katherine Graves eagerly carried on her good work.
The Fear Tension Pain principle explains that when a labouring woman is afraid or stressed, she becomes tense…and so do her muscles! It is this tension in the complex structure of the muscles involved in birthing which causes pain. Good antenatal education, the right birth environment, feeling safe and loved all promote the natural production of oxytocin, the love hormone essential to start and maintain labour. Hypnobirthing teaches skills like progressive relaxation, visualisation techniques, positive affirmations and how to engage the subconscious mind to achieve a trance-like state. In this hypnotic state, the mind and body are calm and relaxed thereby allowing the body to function optimally and the normal, natural event of birth to take place unhindered.
So, there we have it! Do you like the idea of a deeply relaxed and calm birth for your baby?
Why not ask your midwife about hypnobirthing, or contact us for further information?