Hypnobirthing is the process of hypnosis during birth as a way of managing pain and remaining calm during labor. Hypnobirthing stories and studies published in the May 2001 issue of Journal of Family Practice under the article "Effects of Hypnosis on the Labor Processes and Birth Outcomes of Pregnant Adolescents" concludes that the technique reduces complications, surgeries and the amount of time the new mother needs to stay in the hospital.
Additional published studies showed that hypnobirthing reduced labor by as much as four to five hours. Women tended to feel more satisfied and rested with hypnobirthing as opposed to Lamaze training or even the Bradley method. Typical rates of postpartum depression are around 10 to 15 percent and, in some studies, hypnobirthing completely eliminated this type of depression even in women with a history of it.
Hypnobirthing does not make labor pain-free but it can help with pain management.
History of Hypnobirthing
Hypnobirthing techniques were never used throughout recorded childbirth history as a way to manage the pain of labor. This method of natural childbirth is a fairly new procedure not discovered until near the middle of the 20th century. It's based on the work of English obstetrician Dr. Grantly Dick-Read which he published in his 1944 book, Childbirth Without Fear. Dick-Read said that women often suffer from what he called "Fear-Tension-Pain Syndrome" which makes labor more difficult. This syndrome caused blood to flow away from non-essential organs like the uterus making labor more difficult. Hypnosis helps a woman break that cycle and prevents this negative blood flow from happening.
Hypnobirthing is meant to allow a woman to bring her body into deep relaxation so the muscles don't tense up and ultimately do what they're naturally meant to do during the birthing process. Some people have compared the process to a type of daydreaming with the final result being a woman who feels in control, calm, aware and relaxed.
How Does It Work
The process works by the power of suggestion. Through self-hypnosis or with the assistance of a hypnotherapist, a woman learns to guide her thoughts, control her breathing and relax her body with visualizations, positive affirmations and suggestions. Hypnotherapists can be present at the actual birth or they can be trainers who teach a woman the process of effective self-hypnosis.
The husband, partner or birth companion plays an important role in the entire process by practicing breathing and relaxation techniques with the mother. He or she helps present and use hypnosis prompts and provides practical comfort measures.
Myths About Hypnobirthing
Some believe that the hypnosis is a form of mind control where brainwashing occurs through the repetitive listening to or repeating specific hypnobirthing scripts. This is not true. The process and the scripts used are meant to focus the woman's mind on something else besides the pain.
Another myth is that hypnosis during labor will put the woman in a deep sleep, unaware of what's going on around her and unable to perform usual tasks and functions. Women who have had a medicated birth and a birth with hypnobirthing say that they feel more alert and in control with the latter.
Hypnobirthing classes teach visualizing techniques for a gentle birth and how to prepare your body for birthing. You will learn labor massage with the help hypnobirthing videos that show specific techniques. You'll find out how to release negative emotions and fears and birth rehearsal imagery. You may have the option to purchase or make your own hypnobirthing CDs with music that helps you with birthing imagery. Most places that provide hypnobirthing lessons also have other items for sale like DVDs you can take home to assist with learning, books and manuals, sometimes jewelry and occasionally like maternity t-shirts promoting hypnobirthing.