Using Hypnosis for Childbirth
My Alternative Birth Options Series: Part 2 of 4
The picture is me relaxing at about 8 cm dilated (during very active labor). “Relaxing during contractions sounds great, but how does it work?” This question goes through the minds of many women who are investing in a childbirth class. In Hypnobabies class we spend quite a bit of time talking about ways to assist the birthing mother “in the moment” as she uses the skills she’s learned. The practical way the Hypnobabies program was developed is what I believe makes it an effective alternative to the epidural and not simply a pain-coping method.
The following is an overview of how we teach practical application of the Hypnobabies techniques:
1) We stress that the choice to begin using the techniques you’ve practiced very early in the process of labor is a key to using Hypnobabies successfully. When you commit to practicing what it feels like to let your body go completely limp and loose in immediate response to your main Hypnobabies self-hypnosis cue, then in order to benefit from it, you can and must choose to put this practice into action when the time comes. Waiting until labor becomes more active is not advised. (If it turns out to be pre-birthing activity, you’ve gotten some good practice time in!)
2) It’s not going to work like your appliances do when you plug them in and turn them on. You are in total control of allowing yourself to enter self-hypnosis, and you may enjoy guidance from your birth partner(s) to do this. The best way to ensure your “switch” will work when you need it is to practice it daily during your pregnancy. Practicing as directed is key to a satisfying outcome.
3) Birth partners can: a) Help you find your favorite Hypnobabies track on your iPhone/other mobile device. b) Take steps to ensure there’s a peaceful environment surrounding you and give you time to enter a deep state of self-hypnosis using any of the different tracks available to you. c) Put on relaxing music and read Hypnobabies cue words/language/scripts to you. If the birth partner has been participating in your practice as he/she’s guided to do during class, his voice and presence beside you and your baby has become an instantly calming influence. (Well, hopefully that was always the case!)
4) When you make the transition to your place of birth, it’s likely you’re in active labor or will be soon. What if a birthing mother loses focus? Continue providing comforting support in whatever form she needs it in, but also please don’t give up on the Hypnobabies training she has worked so hard for! That would be like telling a marathon runner to just stop running. Instead, ask her if she’d like to try a different audio track or a different cue; determine what is working well for her and adjust accordingly. The Hypnobabies language has been so important to her throughout her pregnancy and it will continue to be, as long as her support team remains committed to using it. If she’s lost focus and gotten off track, she can get back on, but she needs your help in doing so! (We cover this in more detail in class.)
5) Maintain a peaceful environment for her. Hospitals can be chaotic and can unintentionally disrupt the birth process. Make sure that any person entering her space is doing so with utmost respect for her comfort, peace, and birth preferences. If the answers to the questions, “Is mom OK? Is baby OK?” are yes, there is usually not a need to intervene. Dim the lights and use your Hypnobabies door sign which asks that everyone enter with quiet voices. This works wonders for maintaining a peaceful environment.