Hypnobirthing is the use of hypnosis to have a magical birth experience as nature intended.
Hypnosis is a state of deep relaxation with altered awareness.
Being in a relaxed state reduces the ‘panic’ hormone adrenalin and increases the ‘happy’ hormone serotonin, which makes us feel good about ourselves. In this way we are better able to cope with the fear of the unknown, and any pain as a result of the contractions.
Adrenalin produces dramatic changes in the body in response to fear, shock or stress. It causes the rapid preparation of the body for swift action and so is also called the ‘fright, fight and flight’ hormone. Adrenalin causes an increase in the rate of the heart beat and heart output, the ventilation rate, constriction of small blood vessels in the skin and abdomen, so more blood circulates to the skeletal muscles, taking more oxygen and sugars. The general effect is that the whole body is ready for vigorous action, which might be necessary in an emergency.
As the blood is taken away from the digestive system so more goes to the muscles creating the ‘butterflies in the tummy’ effect. In extreme cases this can cause the voiding of the bladder and bowels.
This state of tension cannot be tolerated for long periods and usually other hormones destroy the adrenalin. When one feels fear adrenalin is produced in large quantities and the more fear one feels then the more adrenalin is produced.
Everyone deals with pain differently. When one experiences pain you have the actual organic pain itself, but you also have your psychological awareness of that pain, which is your pain threshold, and you have your own personality reaction to the pain, which is how much you think it will hurt.
Women are constantly bombarded with negative stories about childbirth. As soon as they tell people they are pregnant they are told that it is the most painful thing they will ever do in their lives. This is in fact negative hypnosis and so people believe that childbirth is painful and expect it to be so. TV programmes like ‘One Born Every Minute’ in the UK, emphasise the ‘pain’ and fear of birth, as the producers have to show births that are dramatic to increase viewing numbers.
However, in my opinion the birth contractions are not painful. They are a strong pressure. If you think ‘pain’ then ‘pain’ is what you will get. By thinking of contractions, rather than ‘pains’, this straight away alters your perception of the birth process.
There are four levels of pain control. The first one is to remove the biggest obstacle, FEAR, that is letting your intellect start imagining all sorts of things that could happen. Fear inhibits two important abilities we have, of concentration and relaxation. So fear becomes pain. The fears usually associated with pain are the fear of making it worse, fear of the unknown and what is going to happen.
The second level of pain control is achieved by generating trust and belief in the hypnotic process and in the ability of your body to deal with the pain. Know that your body makes its own pain killing drugs, by the release of serotonins which are released in a very site-specific way in the brain so that all the other vital systems and functions of the body continue. This is how nature intended pain control. Have you ever noticed a bruise on yourself and cannot remember how it happened?
Once your brain has been freed from fear then you can focus your intellect and concentration on the present moment. So the third level of pain control is to engage in the use of progressive relaxation. Relaxation is the most important key to successful pain control and healing.
This then leads to the fourth level of pain control, which is the process of dissociation through self-hypnosis. In hypnosis one is in the alpha-theta brain wave pattern with an altered sense of awareness. In this state the unconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what is real and unreal. So when in hypnosis you are relaxed and in control, and the levels of adrenalin produced by fear and pain is maintained at low levels. In this way relaxation and self-hypnosis make the contractions much easier to cope with.
Relaxation produces effects at a cellular level. It produces the hormone oxytocin, which not only protects the body from heart disease but it also plays a significant role in the regeneration of wounds. Relaxation also produces anti-oxidants, which soak up the free radicals, which can also cause heart disease. Thus all relaxation techniques, and self-hypnosis, are beneficial to the body, whether pregnant or not.
Oxytocin is the hormone involved in birth, bonding with your baby and also in breastfeeding. By learning the hypnobirthing techniques you learn how to relax at a deep level, so you work with your body and intuition, and are able to dissociate from the feeling of the contractions. For many women this does mean that they may have a pain free childbirth. We all have different pain thresholds and so hypnobirthing cannot guarantee a completely pain free birth for everyone. However, what hypnobirthing does is to give you the best birth possible for you so having your baby is an empowering, magical experience, as nature intended.
There are several methods of hypnobirthing. I am a biologist and a hypnotherapist. The Inner Power Hypnobirthing starts with a biology lesson so you know what is happening in the body and understand that the female body is in fact beautifully designed to give birth. You learn special breathing techniques to maintain calmness, positive affirmations, visualisation, the use of colour for relaxation and healing and of course self-hypnosis which is created by using all these techniques. In this way you are able to flood your body with serotonins, a morphine based hormone during the birth process, which is your body’s natural epidural. Thus the adrenalin levels stay low. When you are relaxed you cannot feel fear, and the ‘pain’ of the contractions is considerably lessened.
Therefore giving birth becomes a truly memorable, exciting experience.
All the techniques that you learn for Hypnobirthing are techniques that you can use for the rest of your life to keep you calm, relaxed and in control and so deal with all of life’s challenges.
Hypnobirthing is simply a generic term that means the use of hypnosis for birth.
We are all in hypnosis, without knowing it, about 60% of the day so this is something that comes naturally to us all. It occurs just before you fall asleep and just as you awaken. Other examples include losing track of time when reading a good book or when watching something interesting on television or when you do anything you enjoy doing. Have you ever driven from A to B, arrived at your destination and not remembered how you drove there? If so, you were in the day-dreaming state of natural hypnosis.
In essence, hypnosis is simply a state of heightened relaxation and altered awareness. In hypnosis you are awake, aware of what is going on around you and you are in control.
So hypnobirthing is the intended use of hypnosis to allow you to tap into your inner resources, which we all have in our subconscious minds, to create feelings of well-being.
These feelings of well-being are created by using special breathing techniques to maintain calmness, positive affirmations, visualisation, colour for relaxation and healing and of course self-hypnosis which is created by using all these techniques.
When you are relaxed you cannot feel fear at the same time. When you are relaxed your body produces serotonins, a morphine-based hormone, that makes you feel good about yourself and is your body’s natural epidural. I call this hormone the ‘happy hormone’!
When you are anxious the body responds by producing the panic hormone, adrenaline, which causes all the skeletal muscle to contract, the heart to beat faster and your breathing to increase. So you feel tense, scared and you do not allow your body to work as it should do, especially when giving birth to your baby.
I am a biologist, as well as a hypnotherapist, and I feel that today we have lost sight of the fact that the female body is, in fact, perfectly designed to give birth naturally. When you are in a relaxed, hypnotic state then you work with your body to have a wonderfully natural birth creating a magical experience as nature intended. When you are relaxed your intuition tells you what is going on in your body and the baby can flow out much more easily.
Hypnobirthing is not just for the mum-to-be. It is also for the dad-to-be who plays a vital role in helping his partner maintain her self-hypnosis during the birth.
Hypnobirthing helps you to:
Hypnobirthing does not guarantee a pain-free birth. It does, however, give you the tools to make it as comfortable an experience as possible and an enjoyable, empowering one.
Hypnobirthing can also help you if you have; nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, needle, doctors and hospital phobias; swollen extremities; placenta previa and how to move the placenta to a safe place for the birth and how to turn a breech baby.
"Purple Pushing" (or directed pushing), is commonly used for women who have had pain medication and are not able to fully feel their body’s natural urge to push through the contractions. Purple pushing is directed by the nurses and the OB who will tell you to begin pushing as a contraction begins and count slowly to ten while telling you to keep pushing for the duration of the contraction. While this type of directed pushing can serve a purpose for a mother who is unable to feel anything below her waist, it often leads to an increased need for an oxygen mask, quicker exhaustion, increased chances of assisted delivery, and increased risk of tearing because the mother isn’t able to “listen” to her body by way of backing out of a push when it feels appropriate and stop when her body needs time to stretch and rest.
There are many logistical reasons for choosing to deliver your baby in the hospital, all of which are valid. Even if you would have preferred to deliver at home or in a birth center but are required (by insurance, care provider privileges, legal implications or distance challenges), you can still have a beautiful birth the way you would like. The key is to educate yourself about your choices as a mother and a patient. Regardless of where you birth, the experience is in your hands! Planning and preparation is the key to a positive experience that ends in a healthy and happy mother and baby.
The writings in this series will consist of information from my two hospital births, conversations with mothers who have had births in a variety of settings, as well as reading and research from a variety of sources. I will include embedded links within articles to my sources, as well as list my sources at the end of each article. If I am speaking from my own experience, or the experience of others I will indicate this as well. I hope that through my experience and research that I may provide you with the tools you need to plan your birth the way you would like it to be. There is no set way to birth that is foolproof or that works for everyone. I had no idea how much I didn’t know until I stumbled upon various websites and Facebook pages that aimed to educate and inform women of their choices about birth. It is my hope that through these writings, I may help you to better understand your options, especially those options you didn’t even know you had!
Birthing in a hospital can provide a sense of security for both the mother and her partner by knowing that medical professionals are there to assist if complications arise. However, it is important to remember that giving birth in a hospital comes with risks as well, including the risk that interventions may be encouraged by hospital staff. Knowing the benefits, risks, and circumstances that would necessitate interventions beforehand will help you make informed choices if the time comes. Knowledge is power, and a mother’s intuition is not to be discounted!
Birthing in a hospital provides the opportunity for elected pain management (epidurals, spinal block, IV medications,) fetal monitoring, newborn screenings and immunizations, and nurses to cater to your needs so your birth partner can focus on supporting you. Also, in the event of maternal or fetal distress, birthing in a hospital allows medical professionals to quickly react accordingly such as performing a c-section or an instrumental delivery. The availability of a hospital nursery may allow a new mom to rest and recover while her newborn is being cared for by the nurses. Meals are delivered bedside and help is just a push of a button away. Most hospitals also have a registered lactation consultant on staff that is available to aid in the initiation of breastfeeding.
Delivering in the hospital can also be a challenge. Many mothers report pressure from the hospital staff to consent to fetal monitoring, IV’s, pain medication, and cervical checks against their wishes. Mothers who intend to birth naturally and free of interventions often feel as though they are forced to allow monitoring, cervical checks, and feel pressured to consent to pain medications. Mothers who delivered in a hospital also sometimes feel that the frequent vital signs checks are disruptive to post partum recovery.
It is important for every pregnant mother considering a hospital birth to find out what the hospital’s general policies and procedures are, as well as make decisions about all aspects of her care prior to and during labor. Developing a birth plan can aid in this process and further empower the mother and her partner to communicate their wishes to their care provider and the hospital staff.
Birthing in a hospital can be a beautiful and empowering experience with the right knowledge and support! Information is power, and the key to having the birth experience you desire!
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