But we’ve been conditioned into believing it’s painful and so sadly for some it is, but you can choose to give birth naturally without pain.
Karen Doyle HPD, AfSFH, MNCH (reg) DSFH, expert on pain free childbirth with hypnotherapy talks about hypnobirthing.
1. the use of hypnotic techniques during labour by an expectant mother to reduce the pain and emotional stress of delivery
To give birth is one of the most natural things to do. We have been conditioned by fear and negativity to believe childbirth is an agonising process we have to go through in order to grow our families.
Could it be there is an alternative? Personally, I know there is! I’ve had 4 beautiful births and had the privilege of being a birthing partner to seven expectant Mums.
When we understand the birth journey, focus our mind, learn deep breathing, visulisation and relaxation techniques, we learn to release any fear, resulting in an empowering beautiful birth.
So, what is this hypnobirthing all about? It’s hit the news in recent years especially when The Dutchess of Cambridge reportedly embraced hypnobirthing to relieve her symtoms of morning sickness.
Hypnobirthing teaches simple but specific self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques for an easier, more gentle birth. Hypnobirthing is about training mums and birth partners to understand that when relaxed, undisturbed, and in control, we already know how to do the whole birth thing instinctively!
So how do we do that you might ask? How can we change the minds of thousands watching birthing programmes such as ‘One born every minute’ putting out a negative message of pain and distress for entertainment’s sake?
I teach women, partners and birthing partners how to let go of fear from Childbirth, allow their bodies and minds to relax and focus, so babies can be born gently. We know that childbirth progresses easily in an undisturbed birth, especially when Mum feels safe, so her primal brain can take over. We don’t really need training to give birth, but in this fast-paced world we have lost the ability to relax. For mothers especially, life always seems to get in the way of true relaxation and mindfulness. So what I teach is how to do just that, Relaxation and Mindfulness, along with focus, visualisation and deep breathing techniques.
Have you ever had the priveledge of watching an animal give birth? If you haven’t, take a look on YouTube, maybe look at a cat birthing her kittens and watch how simple birthing can be! The Cat looks for a quiet undisturbed location and usually shows no dramatic displays of discomfort. I am not aware of any Cats antenatal classes, are you? Why is birth only painful for humans? Because we’ve been taught it is.
When we experience something new for the first time, or have had a particulary bad experience previously, we then create a fear around it? What doesn’t help is those ‘helpful’ friends and relatives telling their horror stories, which they seem to enjoy telling pregnant women.
Fear of birthing can be changed. Over the last 4 weeks, I’ve been working with a client whose first birth experience was everything she didn’t want it to be! She was, in her words, ‘totally out of control’ during her birth. Over just 3 sessions of Hypnobirthing, she has given blood in a new fearless way – I used NLP -Neuro Linguistic Programming to change her mindset around needles, with this being so different for her and armed with knowledge and understanding, Kate has decided that she is now able to have the natural birth she wanted rather than the epidural aided birth she’d discussed. Imagine just how confident Kate will be at the end of her Hypnobirthing lessons!
Once Mum’s also understands severe pain doesn’t need to accompany normal birth, everything begins to make sense. Yes, pain is a great communicator when something is wrong, but in a normal birthing, pain does not have to be present. When Mums repeatedly absorb the idea that giving birth is very painful and must be medically managed, it becomes true. Have you heard about the trial of Orncology patients undergoing chemotherapy who were given a saline solution in their drips rather than the drug itself? They actually lost their hair because they thought they were having Chemotherapy and believed that’s what would happen. The mind can’t differentiate between reality and imagination, what you tell it, it believes to be real! You are what you believe you are!
The muscles of the uterus were designed to give birth. Why would the uterus be the only muscle in the body that hurts when it’s doing exactly what it was designed to do? You could argue we don’t use the uterus every day. But, have you ever taken up a new exercise, maybe a new Spinning class, Zumba or carried out hard work in the garden, something requiring some physical effort that you’ve never done before or not in a long time? While you are doing the activity the muscles didn’t hurt; but later that evening, you’re soaking in a nice hot bath to ease the pain of muscles that you never knew existed. So, shouldn’t Childbirth be the same?
Physiology has taught us fear increases adrenaline in the body which creates a physical reaction by activating the fight or flight response. This redirects blood flow away from our organs to the limbs. The uterus, just like the heart, cannot work effectively, comfortably and painlessly when blood is restricted and the muscles spasm. When adrenaline is present the body’s built-in epidural (endorphins) can’t do their work and it slows the release of Oxytocin needed to help the birth progress.
Every thought we have, creates a physically response in the body. Have you ever been embarrassed by someone or something? Blood races to your cheeks, and you blush. Just the thought of that event can recreate the same physical response in your face in seconds. Remember going to the dentist or giving blood or making a presentation at work, You may experience butterflies in your stomach, a dry mouth and clammy palms just by thinking about the experience. This we know to be a stress response, and results in Fight or Flight.
Hypnobirthing teaches choice. My own birthing experiences of childbirth showed me how different things can be, when armed with as much knowledge as possible, finding my zone and an having my husband who was such an amazing birthing partner working with me.
During the birth of my eldest daughter, 31 years ago, procedures surrounding birth were still antiquated. I was given an aenama, shaved and was told my labour had begun! It wasn’t a nice experince at all! So different from what I’d anticipated and planned. I’d armed myself with knowledge in the form of a book Childbirth without Fear – by Grant Dick Read, but when things showed to be going a different path, due to monitors bleeping the wrong way, the whole ‘delivery’ thing was taken out of our hands. I was told I would need a Caeserian Section and so I elected to be awake to have this with an Epidural. Once Lauren was ‘delivered’ via forceps (as the Epidural was administered too late) it was then discovered that my baby was in no danger at all! This left me with the inability to even go to the toilet on my own or feel my legs for hours after the birth. Not one of my better births, but an experience which changed everything for the births of my three subsequent daughters and an experience I can share with every Mum to be. I gave birth to my next daughter Erin, (a healthy nine and a half pounds ) in half an hour, Roese in a hour and a half and Maille in an hour and a half, during my father-in-laws Funeral. All but one of the Mums I’ve been a birthing partner for have had totally analgesic free, natural births and the exception was only different due to the Midwife.
In Hypnobirthing, we even change the language associated with birth. We don’t experience contractions, but tightenings or surges. The word ‘contractio’ creates an image of contracting, feeling pain. The word Labour induces an image of hard work which we know is true of the concentration involved, but using Hypnobirthing focuses on releasing and relaxing and birthing rather than delivery. Our membranes don’t rupture, they release. Mothers experience a birth show instead of a bloody show. These small changes alone make such a difference to our mindset around Childbirth.
So, What is hypnosis? Just like a computer, the subconscious mind holds good programs and bad ones (horror stories of birth). Hypnosis is like running a virus scan on your computer – it finds corrupt programs or those that need to be re-programmed, such as the belief that birth will be painful. I have no control over you! You decide to accept the suggestion that birth can be gentle and easy . You give consent every step of the way. In one of our our seven sessions, I guide you into hypnosis after we’ve learnt more about Hypnobirthing but above all, you are always in control. I also teach you self-hypnosis – I give you a handbook and three Cd’s to work with at home to further work on your subconscious mind. Some of the side effects are an amazing nights sleep, more relaxed, and more confidence!
My goal isn’t just a pain-free birth, but to fill you with confidence to birth, free from fear, in a calm and relaxed way. Enabling you to perform this wonderful miracle with a really positive birth experince.
Karen Doyle HPD, AfSFH, MNCH (reg) DSFH
If you would like to make an appointment about your own childbirth with hypnotherapy, please do feel free to get in touch.
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