What is Hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing was first developed in the USA and uses a form of hypnosis to eliminate pain and fear from the birthing experience.
The method is based on the work of English obstetrician and founder of the Natural Childbirth Trust (NCT), Dr Grantly Dick-Read. Back in the early 1900s he noticed that women who were calm and had positive expectations of their birthing tended to experience less pain than women who were frightened. He realised that their fear created tension, and this tension caused their muscles to tighten leading to a more difficult labour.
Marie Mongan, an American hypnotherapist, combined Dick-Read’s ideas and her own knowledge as a hypno-anaesthesiologist to create “HypnoBirthing”.
How does Hypnobirthing work?
Hypnobirthing is based on the power of self-hypnosis which enables you to bring your body into a state of deep relaxation in which the body’s muscles can work the way they’re meant to during childbirth.
Through classes reinforced by audio and video clips, you’ll learn to achieve deep relaxation by practising methods of visualisation and self-hypnosis. These techniques are also taught to your chosen birth companion. By learning techniques to manage the tension caused by fear and anxiety, the idea is that you’ll approach the birth feeling calm, confident, aware and in control.
The programme is based on the idea that when the mother is afraid, catecholamines or stress hormones are secreted. Most of the oxygenated blood in her body moves to her arms and legs so that she can fight or run away (the “fight or flight” response). As a result, blood is directed away from the uterus and the cervix, the muscles tense and constrict and the body experiences pain. This lack of blood flow to the uterus means that the muscles start to work against each other and can result in baby’s head pushing against hard, unrelenting muscle.
Conversely, when the mother is completely relaxed and free from any fear, her body is able work naturally to help her deliver her baby. The two sets of uterine muscles are able to work together to open and draw back the neck of the cervix so that the baby has a smooth path down. In this relaxed state the body also secretes endorphins; a natural painkiller 200 times stronger than morphine.
We recommend training with your partner, either by yourselves or in a group course, in the Mongan Method of HypnoBirthing by Kristin Hayward.
Please feel free to call me if you’d like to ask any questions about this.