To most of us the words “childbirth” and “labour” are immediately associated with images or experiences of pain and anxiety. For some of us the mere hint of a contraction can send shivers down the spine! With these preconceptions in mind it is hardly surprising that childbirth can be a negative experience for many women. While advances in the medical sciences have offered us a variety of new and varied methods for controlling pain, images of women crawling the walls in agony and screaming blue murder persist in both our minds and the media. Quite naturally many parents are concerned about the effects anaesthesia may have on the mother’s ability to assist with the normal mechanics of labour and any potential repercussions of medication for the child. Consequently more and more parents are turning to complementary therapies to assist with the process of natural childbirth.
Hypnotherapy has been used successfully for centuries to manage pain and also to reduce stress and anxiety in the treatment of a whole variety of conditions. Research has demonstrated that hypnotherapy can have positive and long lasting benefits for both the mother and the child. Hypnosis is a simple procedure where a natural and deep state of physical and mental relaxation can be achieved even in the first session. In this relaxed and focused state any areas of tension and discomfort can be identified and relaxed to make an easier and comfortable birth a real possibility. Self-hypnosis is a powerful tool that can be learnt quickly and efficiently. When this is used throughout the pregnancy it will help to reduce anxiety and create an overall more positive state of health. Hypnosis is also invaluable in creating a positive attitude and mentally preparing for the birth and all that will follow. If an expectant mum is feeling positive, confident and in control the likelihood of an easy and successful delivery increases significantly.
Sara first came to see me at The Green Room in Covent Garden when she was 5 months pregnant. This was to be her first child and she was determined to have a natural childbirth and had been recommended to hypnotherapy by a friend who has stopped smoking following a one-off session. In the first session we discussed her hopes and fears for the pregnancy and the birth and looked at the overall preparation and planning for the new baby. Sara had never experienced hypnosis before so as an introduction in this first session I talked her through a gentle muscle relaxation technique that she could practice at home or at work whenever she could grab 5 minutes to herself. When we met again a fortnight later Sara had found the time to practice virtually every day and was noticing that she was able to relax more and more quickly. In this second session I taught Sara a self-hypnosis technique and introduced her to the ideas behind some pain control procedures. Again she practised these at home in between our sessions and was successfully able to control a lower back pain that had been troubling her at night and leading to some problems in sleeping.
Sara was an ideal patient and through practising her self-hypnosis she became able to and induce selective anaesthesia by herself. She also opted to have 2 final sessions where we focused on the birthing process and talked through her expectations and intentions for the birth. Everybody’s experiences of hypnosis are different but Sara felt energised, calm and focused after our sessions and she wanted to get the most out of the experience.
A week after the due date Sara gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby girl. Her labour was 7 hours long, she was conscious and in control throughout the whole experience and describes it as a “delightful and amazing experience”. Sara says, “The difference between myself and some of the other mums was remarkable. I felt positive and prepared and able to deal with any eventuality. I wasn’t scared at all. I knew I could control the level of discomfort I felt and I knew I was in control.” Sara’s experience is by no means unique. Research has shown that when used appropriately hypnotherapy can lead to a shorter labour. The techniques used reduce the liability to pain and discomfort and the likelihood of needing an episiotomy or going on to develop post-natal depression is also greatly reduced.
Hypnosis is a wonderful, natural tool that has a wide variety of applications.
It changed Sara’s experience of childbirth and ensured that she had the
wonderful natural experience she desired. She still uses it today even though
her daughter is now 3 months old. Taking 10 minutes to relax a day keeps her energy
levels high and also helps her sleep as and when she can. And then there’s
the pain control techniques that she continues to use for her new problem of rather
tender nibbled nipples! But that is another story altogether . . .
About the author:Article written by Nicola Matthews
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