Q)I am wondering what being in hypnosis will be like when I’m giving birth. My midwife also says she is concerned that I won’t be fully present and able to feel or know what’s going on; that I’ll be like a zombie or something. I understand that relaxation is deep but how much do you know of what’s going on around you? I would like to really experience childbirth, just without the pain!
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A) Then you’ve come to the right place! No zombies allowed. You are as aware as you want to be while in hypnosis. The hypnosis experience is different for each person using it, but it is simply focused concentration, like when you’re deeply engrossed in a book or driving your car and thinking about something else at the same time. Both are states of hypnosis and you can see, hear and feel everything that you *want to* while doing them.
Here are some other perspectives about childbirth hypnosis awareness from Hypnobabies moms who have been there:
1) You notice as much as you want to notice 🙂 For me kind of like when I’m really into a good movie – I hear things going on, but don’t really care to give them notice most of the time.
2)You are as present as you want to be. It’s not like you’re asleep or a zombie or drugged up, you’re making the choices; I did completely with my last hypno-birth. You can always bring yourself back out instantly if you ever need to. I’m enjoying preparing for this birth with Hypnobabies even more than I enjoyed hypnobirthing — I’m really looking forward to using it!!
Regarding the midwife’s concerns, from a 2 time Hypno-mom:
That is a common concern among caregivers who are not familiar with self-hypnosis. The fact is that being in hypnosis heightens your senses and makes you more aware of what is going on in your body and around you. But it also gives you additional control over your decisions about what you want to pay attention to. Women using hypnosis tend to know more about what their body is doing and how the baby is moving down. I consider that to be one of the biggest gifts I received from using hypnosis for my births. Not only did I get through the births comfortably, but I will always remember the remarkable and completely unexpected sensation of my children moving down and out of my body. I never expected the warmth or the smoothness of their little bodies as they slid through the birth canal. It was wonderfully beautiful, and I remember more details about every moment of those birthdays than my husband does. I can still picture who was in the room, where everyone stood, the expression on their faces, much of what they said, etc. I have never been more present than I was during my births.
Hypnosis doesn’t “manage pain” at all. It allows you to make a decision about how you will experience the sensations of birth. Very little, if any of the things that happen during birth have to “hurt”. By programming your mind to accept that, most women can choose to experience only pressure, and there are hypnotic suggestions to help you remain comfortable even if the baby does pinch a nerve or cause some other potentially painful thing to happen while descending.
Hypnosis is also not about “completely leaving yourself”. On the contrary, hypnosis helps you bridge the gap between your mind and your body so you can play a more active role in the physical aspect of your birthing. Have you ever been in a stressful situation, such as a person almost stepping in front of your car as you drive along, or tripping and nearly falling down some stairs, or something like that? Where you weren’t injured or really effected in any way, but it scared you? Even though you weren’t physically hurt, you probably felt your heart speed up, and adrenaline rush through you and may have begun to sweat and shake. That is your mind realizing how catastrophic an event that could have been, which causes anoverwhelming response from your body. Hypnosis allows you to harness that control you mind has over your body and influence how you experience your birth to a large extent.
Regarding choosing what to be aware of:
If you are using Hypnobabies, you will most experience some level of hypnotic anesthesia during some or most of your hypnosis practice. But during your birthing time, your hypnosis will actually make you hyper-aware of what is going on within your body and around you. You’ll be extremely in-tune with your birthing. And I found myself very aware of what was going on in the room and easily interactive with others (to the point that they weren’t really sure if I was in hypnosis or not, unless I purposely relaxed to the point of appearing to nap). But the hypnosis gave me extraordinary control over what I wanted to “let in”. For instance, I found nothing useful to be gained by hearing a woman down the hall screaming her head off (despite an epidural, I’m told), so I didn’t even acknowledge the sound and completely forgot about it. I am still amazed by the level of detail I recall from throughout my birthing time. My recall for the goings-on of the day are far more vivid than a “normal” day. I can picture where people were standing, see expressions and remember what they were saying to me, how I was feeling, my thought processes, etc.
I really didn’t know what to expect, but am very glad that I didn’t have to give up any of the day’s memories to achieve a gentle, enjoyable birth. I hope that helps!