Celebrities spanning from Jessica Alba to Kate Middleton are said to have utilised hypnosis and similar techniques to prepare for labour and delivery, alleviate worry, and even ease pain naturally. Is it possible to be hypnotised during childbirth? Yes, indeed. Let’s find out more about it.
What is HypnoBirthing?
The phrase hypnosis, on its own, refers to "a technique during which a person experiences suggested alterations in feeling, perception, cognition, or behaviour." HypnoBirthing is a trademarked type of hypnosis used during the childbirth process.
The goal of Hypnobirthing is to alleviate fear, discomfort, and anxiety during labour. It includes learning calm breathing methods, deep relaxation, guided mediation, visualisation, positive ideas and affirmations, and so forth.
Affirmations might include statements such, "I have the capacity to give birth to my child" or "I trust in my body and my baby to help me."
How HypnoBirthing works
Hypnobirthing teaches women how to create a "self-hypnotic" state of mind for which a woman directs her attention inwardly, concentrates deeply, and decreases peripheral awareness. She can, however, respond to ideas and affirmations.
Grantly, Dick-Read, M.D., an English obstetrician who authored Childbirth Without Fear in 1944, is the inspiration for the HypnoBirthing approach. Dr Dick-Read believes that hypnosis can assist labouring women to overcome what he refers to as the "Fear-Tension-Pain Syndrome," which makes labour more difficult. He felt that the condition led blood to flow away from non-essential organs like the uterus and toward big muscle groups in the legs. He reasoned that hypnosis-induced relaxation would prevent this from happening.
Hypnobirthing seeks to offset the effects of fear by assisting women in secreting the chemicals oxytocin and endorphins, which allow them to stay calm and relaxed while labour progresses.
Some women who have utilised hypnobirthing techniques claim to be daydreaming, in a trance or falling into a peaceful, completely relaxed state while not really sleeping.
What are the methods and techniques used in Hypnobirthing?
Deep breathing, in through the nose and out through the mouth, can help you stay calm and minimise discomfort throughout labour.
A focus on positive thoughts and words
Consider a child's thoughts and how they could be worried about an approaching injection. If an older child tells them a horror story and they become disturbed, we would punish that older child for instilling unnecessary dread in them. The same can be said about birth.
Women who practise Hypnobirthing become well familiar with the power of words and employ it in a variety of ways:
- Contraction = Surge, wave or sensation
- Coach = Birth companion or partner
- Catch the baby = Receive the baby
- Deliver the baby = Birth the baby
- Due Date = Guess date
- Breaking of the water = Releasing of membranes
- Pain = Pressure sensation or tightening
- Birth canal = Birth path
- Pushing = Down breathing of the baby
- Complications = Different circumstances
- Mucus plug = Uterine seal, baby gel
- Bloody show = Birth show
- Effacing, dilating = Thinning, opening
- Transition = Change, near completion
- False labour = Practice labour
- First phase = Up phase
- The second phase = Down phase
- Third phase = Afterbirth
Guided visualisations and meditation
Visualisation is the process of imagining your baby's birth and what you wish to happen. It might be something very particular or something more generic, such as a sensation you wish to have. You may, for example, imagine what it would be like to hold your baby skin to skin when they are born.
Meditation may likewise help you focus on your body and baby while avoiding any extraneous noises or things going on around you.
Alternative methods that are similar to Hypnobirthing
Mongan birthing technique
This method teaches expecting women how to utilise self-hypnosis during labour in combination with calm breathing to facilitate a natural birth.
Unlike HypnoBirthing, Hypnobabies specifically addresses labour pain and teaches coping techniques. Hypnobabies, like HypnoBirthing, offers a complete birth education course covering the physiology of labour, the general course of labour, and potential problems.
The benefits of HypnoBirthing, according to parents who have tried Hypnobirthing techniques during labour.
'My husband made me a relaxation album to use throughout labour and pregnancy. It helped me to find calm serenity in the clinical hospital environment.'
'I just kept breathing and focused on anything I could find, which ended up being a clean flannel!'
'I found helping my partner give birth using Hypnobirthing very rewarding. Learning the techniques together meant I could talk her through the wave of each contraction, reminding her to stay focused and relaxed and that she was in control of the experience. It made so much difference being able to do something positive during her labour and to see her managing the pain herself.'
Here are some more advantages of HypnoBirthing:
- It is a natural method of pain relief. There are no medicines that might harm you or your baby.
- During labour, it might give comfort, relaxation, and relief.
- It can help to reduce tension and anxiety during delivery.
- It enables you to stay attentive and awake.
- It improves the postpartum experience.
Note: It may benefit some ladies but not all.
Some women who took part in a self-hypnosis clinical study were interviewed and expressed emotions of serenity, confidence, and empowerment.
However, the approaches do not work for everyone.
When their labour and delivery experiences did not meet their expectations, or when their midwives misread their calm condition, several women reported feeling dissatisfied or disappointed.
Comparing HynoBirthing to Lamaze and Bradley methods
Lamaze focuses on Six Healthy Birth Practices: allowing labour to begin on its own, walking, moving around, and changing positions throughout labour, bringing a loved one or doula for continuous support, avoiding interventions, pushing in an upright position, following the body's natural urges, keeping mother and baby together, with unlimited opportunity for breastfeeding.
The Bradley Method teaches and inspires expectant parents to seek natural delivery with confidence. The class series focuses on teaching the pregnant woman and her "coach" the significance of a healthy pregnancy, the whole labour and birth experience, postpartum, and infant care.
HypnoBirthing brings Lamaze and Bradley together but really gets into the "headspace" of the mother to help create a positive outlook on birth.
Equipment for Hypnobirthing before birth
Special candles are available to be used in combination with Hypnobirthing and deep relaxation techniques. Lavender has a relaxing, quieting effect and pairs well with supporting mandarin, which relieves mental strain. Frankincense is a soothing ingredient that is especially helpful at reducing anxiety and activating inner power. Other things that you can use to practice hypnobirthing include:
- Natural Scented Candles
- Fairy lights
- Pictures of your favourite visualisations
- Positive affirmations
- Relaxing room spray
- Essential Oils
Equipment for Hypnobirthing during birth
It is important to remember that you cannot use hypnobirthing candles during your labour if you are in hospital or at home with gas and air / Entonox presence.
If you are preparing for birth without Entonox, you may use candles. Clary Sage, known as "Womb Tonic", is wonderful to use during established labour. Aromatherapy uses the power of Clary Sage's scent to calm the mind and reduce feelings of anxiety. It also has antibacterial properties, is a natural antidepressant, and reduces cramps.
Other things to keep in mind during hypnobirthing delivery:
- A calm environment during pregnancy
- Fairy lights
- Pictures of your favourite visualisations
- Positive affirmations
- Relaxing room spray - coming soon!
So, are you ready to start practising Hypnobirthing? If yes:
- Start Searching online, for instance, on Instagram for local classes.
- Search Online classes.
- See our recommendations for further reading.
- Speak to a Doctor or midwife to discuss your birth options.
Related Reading on Hypnobirthing
Here are a few books I recommend you read on the idea of employing hypnosis methods during delivery:
- Hypnobirthing: The Marie Mongan Method by Marie Mongan
- The Hypnobirthing Book: The Inspirational Guide for a Calm, Confident Birth by Katharine Graves and Michel Odent
- The Calm Birth Method: Your Complete Guide to a Positve Hypnobirthing Experience by Suzy Ashworth
- Hypnobirthing Home Study by Kathryn Clark
- Mindful Hypnobirthing: Hypnosis and Mindfulness Techniques for a Calm and Confident Birth by Sophie Fletcher
- Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke