Hypnobirthing… what do we actually mean?

There has been a bit of a debate over the last week in my online “birth community” about whether the term “hypnobirthing” puts people off, or gives the wrong impression, makes false promises or just won’t work for everyone, and this had come from practitioners themselves.

The term “hypnosis”, the argument goes, can be off-putting but only, I believe, if it isn’t explained properly. Every day each one of us spends some time in a state of natural hypnosis, when daydreaming, or even reading or watching TV. We switch off from our surroundings but our senses are still aware of all that is going on around us. In a state of hypnosis, a fire alarm, or even a whiff of burning smoke, (unless in a therapy session with a hypnotist who is working on sensory perception, but then you would expect THEM to recognise the signs) will have everyone heading for the door, no question.

SO what does hypnobirthing do? The term was first used by an American hypnotherapist, Marie Mongan, but has come into widespread use over the years. There are various types of training to be had, all with similar aims but varying methodologies. I chose to train with Maggie Howell as a Natal Hypnotherapy practitioner, as there was no change to language used to describe birth: we call a contraction just that, as how often might a midwife say “that was a good contraction”? The key is repetition and the teaching of self-hypnosis, using “3,2,1 relax” by now a very familiar trigger for me which can send me way down into hypnosis in a heart-beat!

Hypnobirthing prepares women by teaching ways of going into hypnosis, instilling positive suggestions relating to pregnancy, birth and parenting, when she is deeply relaxed and her subconscious is most suggestible. Hypnosis is simply a state of focused attention, during which people are MORE aware, not less, of what is going on around them. Repetition is essential as each time the suggestions go deeper and deeper, creating more and more neural pathways in the brain. Listening to tapes/CDs/downloads therefore is an important part of the programme.

We know that some people are much more suggestible than others. Stage Hypnotists pick the somnambulists, those who easily achieve stage 6, the final stage on the Arons depth scale http://healnowtherapyhypnosis.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/different-depths-of-hypnosis.html one of many ways of measuring depth of trance, and therefore are guaranteed to be very suggestible and quick to work with, which to an entertainer is important. However, we also know that the ability to relax, by focusing on the breath, is in itself a recognised form of pain management in childbirth, as in the Dick-Read method http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Read+method or Lamaze http://www.lamaze.org/History (Both were quite complicated!)

NB Hypnobirthing does not guarantee a particular type of birth but reduces the need for main management and intervention and women feel so much better about their birth experience no matter how or where their baby is born.

To suggest hypnobirthing does not work for all women is giving a strong and powerful message that it will not work! You did NOT hear that from me!

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