“Self-hypnosis refers to a person being able to alter their own state of consciousness so that normally perceived experiences, such as pain, do not reach awareness or do so with less force [or are transformed by suggestions of hypno-anesthesia]. Hypnosis uses focused attention and relaxation, to develop increased receptivity to verbal and non-verbal communications which are commonly referred to as ‘suggestions’. These are positive [encouraging] statements used in order to achieve specific therapeutic goals.”
In labour and childbirth the goal is to alleviate or reduce fear, tension and pain so the physiological act of birth can progress in away that is comfortable for the mother. Dr Grantly Dick Read introduced the idea of a pain-tension-fear cycle of childbirth. He argued that ‘a tense mind means a tense cervix’ and that when we are afraid during childbirth the body draws blood away from non-vital
organs, such as the uterus, to the extremities, which results in pain. By removing fear and its physiological consequence the uterus can function as intended, eliminating extreme pain. Breaking this pain cycle is a central concept in hypnosis with Dick Read’s work often cited as the theoretical link between hypnotherapy and childbirth. The hypothesis that pain is aggravated through fear and emotional tension is well supported by the literature. Please see the entire review HERE.