Although the philosophy of some hypno-childbirth programs teach women that they will not have pain during labor “if they just relax enough”, most women find that idea to be inaccurate and misleading. If this was a valid theory, millions of women would have had pain-free births just from practicing and using the wonderful deep relaxation techniques that are taught in most natural childbirth classes, and that is simply not the case. Although there are women who do have pain-free births without much preparation or through deep breathing and relaxation, for most birthing mothers much more is needed, physically, mentally and emotionally to have a comfortable childbirth experience.
Childbirth experiences are different for every woman. There is no predicting how any one mother will feel as she gives birth. Telling a woman that she will feel no pain if she just relaxes enough is inadequate and inaccurate for most. This can confuse the mother and create self-doubt before, during and after birth.
Other programs and books teach that since childbirth is a normal physiological process for women, there is “no physiological reason for childbirth pain” and that pain is caused mostly by fear and therefore eradicating fear in childbirth will eliminate their pain. In reality, women are moving a large object through and out of their bodies when they give birth, and there are many sensitive nerves, muscles, ligaments, organs and other body parts being pressed on, pushed, and stretched to amazing lengths during this process. The big bag of muscles we call a uterus has stretched to the size of a large melon and the contractions that tighten these muscles up are extremely powerful. Pain for most women is indeed part of that process, and eradicating fear is helpful in lessening pain, but does not ensure pain elimination.
We do know of course, that pain can be made much worse by tension in the birthing body and by fear being present in the woman's mind. The Fear/Tension/Pain Syndrome is very real, however it needs to be recognized for what it is: a response to be lessened or eliminated so that childbirth can progress much more easily and comfortably. Simply eliminating fear during childbirth rarely results in completely eliminating pain, and we do a disservice to women when we tell them that it will.
The perceived intensity of birthing sensations depends partly upon:
• a woman’s emotions, before and during childbirth, since emotional and environmental stressors can cause constriction, Fear/Tension/Pain
• the size of a woman’s pelvis
• the size and positioning of her baby
• the strength of her uterine waves
• the birthing preparation (tools) each mother has chosen, how well she practiced them and how she uses them as she gives birth
• the choices women make during childbirth which can assist in a more comfortable birth
• and many more … There are actually many other factors which impact pain levels and the perception of pain during childbirth. Relaxation (or the lack thereof) is only one of the keys to a more comfortable birth experience.
Doing it "RIGHT"?
As we teach our Hypnobabies students, since each birthing journey is unique, there are so many variables in childbirth and we cannot ever know why each baby's birth unfolds as it does, they are always doing it right - there is never a possibility of "doing it wrong". Childbirth cannot ever be wrong; it is always right and each birthing mother does exactly what she needs to do for herself and her baby. It is painful and unfair for any new mother to have to feel as though she has somehow "failed" at childbirth because she had a difficult birth experience in any way, yet that is how some mothers feel if they are led to believe that if they had "relaxed enough" or "stopped fearing childbirth" it would not have been painful. In Hypnobabies, every birth is a Hypnobabies birth, no matter how it transpired, and we hope that each new mother will see the glory and joy in her birthing experience as she deserves to. This is one of the reasons we have hypnosis affirmations and script suggestions that help our mothers to "acccept any path my birthing journey takes, knowing it is the right one for me and my baby."
So what makes Hypnobabies so successful at producing easier and more comfortable births? In Hypnobabies Childbirth Hypnosis, during birth preparation and childbirth, we focus greatly on several elements that assist with making childbirth easier and more comfortable. They are:
1) Hypnosis is the most important element for an easier, more comfortable birthing and takes moms far beyond deep relaxation and breathing techniques. The deep, somnambulistic hypnosis used in Hypnobabies actually re-trains and conditions the inner mind to convert birthing sensations from painful sensations to comfortable or even pleasurable ones. Hypnobabies mothers still experience normal birthing sensations - sensations such as pressure, stretching, pushing and tightening, as well as baby's movements, and they can be experienced with little or no discomfort in many cases. The following are side-effects of deep, somnambulistic hypnosis:
2) Deep Relaxation: The muscles of a birthing woman's body, especially the ones around her baby must be completely and totally relaxed so that they can work efficiently and without any added discomfort from the Fear/Tension/Pain response. Practice is therefore mandatory and must be taken seriously. Hypno-mothers need to instantly accomplish becoming completely limp and loose like a dishrag when prompted to relax their body. This is one of the reasons we do progressive relaxation inductions, and in every Hypnobabies hypnosis script, audio track, cue and technique, deep relaxation is practiced so that it becomes a completely automatic response. It is our Hypnobabies hypnosis training which “implants” suggestions into our Hypno-moms’ subconscious minds for instant and very deep total body relaxation.
3) Fear Clearing Sessions: Through hypnotic suggestion, our moms are gently guided to release and re-program a lifetime of not-so-encouraging expectations about childbirth. Every birth story an expectant woman reads, sees on TV or in the movies, or listens to during people's stories about their own birth experiences helps create her belief system about the process of birth.
Hypnobabies Fear Clearing sessions help our moms to let go of prior cultural conditioning, and to re-program any fears or concerns they may have about childbirth, into a sense of confidence and happy anticipation for their baby's birth. Releasing fears about birth and the resulting stress reduction, helps the body to relax and function well, to enjoy a restful sleep, and to actually enjoy pregnancy. Hypnobabies mom, Kim T., practicing her Hypnobabies hypnosis on a birth ball
How Can Hypnosis Help so Much?
The main way that hypnosis is used successfully in Hypnobabies is through Post-Hypnotic Suggestions. These are the programmed messages written with specific language for easier, more comfortable birthing that must be repeated (compounded) many times for the best effect. In order to create the deepest relaxation, real physical comfort and a calm, confident attitude, our Hypnobabies students need to reach a hypnotic state called somnambulism and listen to these post-hypnotic suggestions repeatedly for the best benefit.
Somnambulism is a very deep state of hypnosis where the person looks as if they are sleeping, and they may even breathe heavily as if they were asleep, but they are not asleep. They are as relaxed physiologically as they are when sleeping, but still very aware of what is happening around them (IF they want to be!). It is in this deep state of hypnosis that the subconscious mind can be re-trained to lessen or eliminate pain sensations, a process that hypnotherapist/pain management specialists call "hypno-anesthesia".
Hypno-moms must practice their hypnotic cues and techniques on a daily basis until the baby comes to create an easier more comfortable experience for everyone involved. They simply have to do their “hypno-homework” every day, no exceptions. This hypnosis practice is actually the easiest thing our moms do during their pregnancies; getting into a relaxed position with soft music in the background and allowing themselves to float away into a wonderfully deeper mental and physical state … all while listening to suggestions for an easy, gentle and comfortable birth. Hypnobabies practice is a gift they give themselves while pregnant that pays many dividends during birthing.