Guest Author: Juliet Forsyth-Farrelly
What is hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing is a form of natural pain relief used in labor. Hypnosis techniques are learned in the months and weeks leading up to a birth by the parents-to-be to be used by them when there are times of stress (missing your due date anyone?) or when labor starts.
Hypnobirthing helps a mother to feel calm, in control and confident during the birth journey. You’ll want to be calm, centered and confident so your body can do its job to assist you in birthing a baby naturally with fewer chances of interventions. The more stress a woman in labor feels, the more adrenaline she produces. Adrenaline inhibits the production of the hormones oxytocin and endorphins. These are two natural pain relievers and help a women’s body to give birth. Women who use hypnobirthing report a decrease in the amount of/severity of pain they felt, length of labor and less use of interventions (epidural, forceps etc.).
Birth is unpredictable and while hypnobirthing can’t guarantee you a straightforward, pain-free birth, it can be used no matter what happens in your birth journey to make you feel calm, confident and relaxed. This is crucial if you have to make some important decisions during labor. Hypnobirthing allows you to do so from a centered and calm state of mind.
How does it work?
You don’t have to be unconscious to work/reach the subconscious. All you need to do is be relaxed and comfortable. Your hypnobirthing instructor will make sure you feel relaxed and safe. Your subconscious mind won’t let you do anything that is against your belief system so you don’t need to worry about “being controlled” by someone else or doing something against your will.
When you do a hypnobirthing course, hypnotic scripts will be read to you. These can be stories, tales or visualizations. These scripts aim to help your mind and body associate birth with being a calm and natural part of life. You can listen to these scripts or recordings as many times as you like, at times you wish, to help promote these feelings of relaxation and calmness.
Words that trigger pain, fear or shock are replaced with more positive, caring language that also helps a mother tap into the language she heard in the hypnobirthing scripts. In your classes you will also find out how the body works for a mother in labor and what things you can do to optimize the birth experience. It may sound like a biology class—but fear not—it’s way more fun!
How do I learn hypnobirthing?
Courses range from two to 10 hours and can be done in one to six sessions. Most couples do sessions in small groups or private sessions, but you can use books, podcasts and downloaded recordings from websites. In the sessions you will be taught how the body works during birth and what you can do to promote the best conditions for yourself/your partner in labor. You will also be given some scripts to listen to and/or read to your partner when she goes into labor to help her feel more relaxed.
The instructor will read you some scripts so you know what it feels like to be gently hypnotized and relaxed. Most people comment that they are surprised at how awake they are during a hypnobirthing session. The more you practice listening to these scripts, the more likely you are to remember them during labor. I’m a big fan of personalized hypnobirthing because, like all hypnosis, it works best if it matches memories or positive thoughts/beliefs you already have about birth.
Juliet Forsyth-Farrelly is the Founder and Director of The First Cuddle Birth Coaching. She is a trained hypnotherapist and has a certificate in Integrated Wellness and Resilience coaching.
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Despite the prevalence of lying in a hospital bed during labor, the pain of labor can be exacerbated by lying down. When it comes to labor planning, be sure that you are able to move as you need to help reduce your pain and anxiety and help your labor progress.