HypnoBirthing® was developed 15 years ago in the United States and is a childbirth method that 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 Dick-Read noticed that women who were calm and had positive expectations of their birthing, tended to experience less pain than women who were frightened. He came to realise that their fear created tension, and the tension caused their muscles to tighten, causing 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”. The basis or HypnoBirthing is that with the aid of self-hypnosis a woman can bring her body into a state of deep relaxation in which the body’s muscles can work the way they’re meant to during childbirth.
How Does Hypnobirthing Work?
Through classes reinforced by audio and video programs, pregnant women learn to achieve deep relaxation by practicing methods of visualisation and self-hypnosis. These techniques are also taught to birth companions, who learn to help deepen and support the birthing mother’s level of relaxation during birthing. By learning techniques to manage the tension caused by fear and anxiety, the labouring mother approaches 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 (“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 birth 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.
The Fertility Support Company recommends pregnant mothers-to-be are trained with their partners in the Mongan Method of HypnoBirthing® by Kristin Hayward. Kristin is available for either group or individual courses.