Today, Hypnosis is increasingly used to aid fertility and ease birth. In the UK, this is often referred to by the generic term, “hypnobirthing”.
It can help overcome fear and anxiety around conception, parenting or birth itself. It can reduce stress and anxiety (not just for you, but also for your baby), boost your confidence to be a parent and give mothers a feeling of control so the birth experience is the best it can be.
Fertility and Hypnosis
There are many factors that contribute to infertility, some of which may be associated with stress and anxiety about parenthood, or even tokophobia: the fear of childbirth itself. Hypnosis can help partners to explore and overcome such psychological barriers, to trust their bodies and significantly increase their chances of conception.
For couples undergoing fertility treatment, hypnosis can be used as a complementary therapy to reduce harmful stress and to increase a sense of calm during treatment cycles. When combined, this has been shown to increase the chances of conceiving.
Hypnosis and Birth
Hypnosis has been used as a technique to support labour for many years, with the written records dating back to the mid 1800s. Over the past 15 years, more and more people have realised the link between body and mind during labour may have a bearing on the outcome of the birth. Following this, a number of antenatal courses emerged that offer hypnosis as part of the course.
The use of hypnosis during labour has been shown to:
- Reduce the length of labour
- Reduce the use of pain relief
- Reduce the risk of intervention
- Reduce the risk of postnatal depression
Babies that are born to mums that have practiced hypnosis and deep relaxation techniques during labour may also be calmer, sleep better and feed better.
There are now also a number of midwives in the UK training as hypnotherapists, having seen the profound difference hypnotherapy in mothers who are birthing their babies calmly and feeling wonderfully in control.
Many different approaches are now available including “HypnoBirthing – The Mongan Method”, Blissful Birth, Mindful Mamma, Confident Childbirth, Natal Hypnotherapy and Hypnobabies. All of these programmes will teach similar techniques. We strongly recommend that when you do choose a practitioner you ensure they are a trained hypnotherapist. You can find a list of practitioners in our Hypnotherapy directory. The creators of Blissful Birth, Confident Childbirth and Mindful Mamma are also NCH registered Hypnotherapists.
How does it work?
In our culture, women are often surrounded by negative messages about birth and grow up expecting birth to be painful and traumatic. Often, these messages come through stories in the media or on television. Women are conditioned to believe that birth is perilous and fraught with danger.
It is precisely this expectation of fear that creates the tension in a birthing mother, which in turn creates pain. This often happens at a subconscious, primal level. If a birthing mother senses or experiences anything that is unfamiliar her instinct is to protect her young and herself. So often where there is fear or apprehension, even if it is subconscious, it will inhibit labour as no mother would want her baby to be born where there is a threat to their wellbeing.
Hypnosis works at a subconscious level, changing instinctive perceptions of birth so that it is seen as a positive experience, enabling birthing mothers to trust their body. It also make mothers aware of how they can be in control and manage their environment, keeping it free of threats. It is similar to a cat instinctively a nest, in a dark undisturbed place to birth her kittens quietly.
When the mother is birthing free of fear and in control then her experience will be completely different.
So what can you expect when you prepare for you birth during hypnosis?
As Hypnotherapy is largely hands-off and non-invasive, it is one of the most relaxing, enjoyable and safe therapies to use during pregnancy and birth. Many mothers who have used it during pregnancy and birth say they sleep much better and are much calmer during pregnancy.
Sessions will probably last between 4 and 12 sessions depending on which programme you choose or the hypnotherapist with who you are working.
Usually a hypnotherapist will give you a birth CD to practice that you should listen to on a daily basis, and you will be coached on a variety of techniques that will help you and your partner work towards the type of birth you want.
A hypnobirthing programme will typically include:
- Suggestions to increase your confidence and trust in your body
- Tools and visualisations to let go of any fears or anxieties
- Techniques to manage any discomfort or pain
- Understanding of the stress response on the body during labour
- Suggestions for your partner to use to create a sense of calm in the room
- Self-hypnosis (awake) techniques
How do I choose the right birth programme for me?
It is important you choose a programme you feel comfortable with, and certainly a hypnotherapist with whom you are able to talk openly. Some fears relating to pregnancy and birth can be intimate and personal; it is crucial that you feel comfortable and relaxed so it is easier to face and resolve your fears.
If you are able to, choose a hypnotherapist who has had additional training in hypnosis for birth. Sometimes it is worth visiting or chatting to them over the phone beforehand.
Do bear in mind that a course is not necessarily better because it is longer. The secret to having a good birth using hypnobirthing lies in the practice.