Promoting a calm and positive birth experience
By the end of your sessions, you may be surprised just how much your mindset has shifted, so that you can look forward to childbirth in a much more relaxed way than before. You’ll have taken your mind and body through so many positive mental rehearsals for the birth that your body can be “primed” to go through its natural process very smoothly.
You’ll discover that severe pain does not have to go hand in hand with labour. You’ll learn how to release the fears, anxieties and worries you may have about giving birth, and how to overcome any previous traumatic births allowing you to experience the true joy of birth – rather than it being the kind of dreadful experience many people seem all too eager to tell you about.
You won’t be in a trance or asleep – instead, you’ll be able to chat, totally relaxed, but fully in control. You’ll always be aware of what is happening to you, and around you.
You’ll learn how to remain in control of your labour and birth – rather than turning your birthing experience over to medical staff unnecessarily. This means that mums enter their labour and birth experience peacefully, confidently, calmly and fully in control – equipped to achieve the birth they want.
Confident Childbirth can be used for any type of birth whether at home, in hospital or at a birthing centre and it can be used for any future births too. It is a flexible approach taking into account how you feel now and respecting your wishes as it guides you towards the birth that you wish for you and your baby.
Hypnosis in Childbirth – A Medical View
A quote from Dr Anna Zohrabian and Dr Rumi Peynovska
“In obstetrics an ideal anaesthetic agent should fulfil three essential requirements:
It should be able to afford complete relief from pain, however severe.
It should not interfere with the normal mechanisms of labour.
It should not depress either the respiration or the cardiovascular system of the child.”
“The most effective chemical agent is at best a compromise but hypnosis fulfils all three requirements and is called the ideal anaesthetic in obstetrics. Hypnosis is the only known no-risk painkiller.”
Why Choose Confident Childbirth?
There are many benefits you can gain by using Confident Childbirth, some are listed below:
- The experience of pregnancy is an altogether healthier, more enjoyable, positive and exciting process.
- Provides the mother with more confidence to have a positive birth experience.
- Increased coping mechanisms and ability to accommodate levels of discomfort.
- Can clear trauma around previous negative birth experiences to allow mother to engage with the present pregnancy with a more confident and optimistic outlook.
- Increases the mother’s ability to relax mentally and physically. This reduces fear, tension and pain in the mother thereby eliminating or greatly reducing the need for chemical painkillers.
- Shorter labour times.
- Paces the mother to her experience so that she is able to control her energy levels.
- Calmer and more accepting mental state even in the event the birth takes an unexpected turn or involves complications.
- Reduced incidence of instrumental/surgical deliveries (forceps, ventouse, Caesarean sections).
- Fewer breech presentations or other complications.
- No depression of respiratory or circulatory functions in mother or child.
- No interference with normal mechanisms of labour.
- Promotes higher Apgar score.
- Reduced use of pain medication means reduction of
undesirable post-operative effects for mother and baby.
- Shorter hospital stay and quicker postnatal recovery.
- Reduced incidence of post-natal depression.
- Helps bonding of mother and baby.
- Calmer, better adjusted baby which feeds and sleeps
better due to its gentle passage into his/her new world.
- Promotes lactation.
- Cope more easily with family life (like getting easily
back to sleep during those disturbed nights…).
What will I learn by using Confident Childbirth?
You will learn:
- How the mind and emotions affect the body directly during the labour and birth process, learning how many women birth comfortably – without pain.
- Self-hypnosis: how to go into a state of calm relaxation.
- How to prepare mind and body using personal visualisations to aid your labour and delivery.
- How to focus constructively in order to manage the birth of your baby in the best way for you.
- How it is possible for you to birth quickly and easily.
- How to remain positive and in control whilst communicating with medical staff.
- How to overcome concerns about giving birth and parenting.
- Skills to develop and strengthen confidence and calm leaving you looking forward to the birth of your baby.
Surely pain is purely physical – how can my mind have any effect on it?
In fact, feelings of pain are a complex response and how the mind is feeling influences the sending of the pain signal. For example, relaxation has been shown to raise the pain threshold by releasing endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers which block pain signals from reaching the brain.
Neurologists at the University of Iowa scanned the brain activity of hypnotised people as they dipped their hands in lukewarm water and in painfully hot water. When it was suggested under hypnosis that the painfully-hot water was lukewarm, the brain activity in the part of the brain which registers subjective pain was the exactly the same as when the water actually was lukewarm.
Your attitude to pain can also diminish its importance to you. Think of how marathon runners cope with and overcome discomfort so that it becomes very secondary in an experience more marked by a sense of achievement and satisfaction.
Will I be able to learn self-hypnosis?
It’s surprisingly easy. You go in and out of trance all day long so your mind knows how to, even if you’re not aware of it!
When you daydream, drive on autopilot or become absorbed in television, a film, music or a book, then you’re in a trance. When you imagine yourself on your next holiday or evening out, you’re taking yourself into trance. If you find yourself reliving your school days or a job interview, you’re in trance.
You’ll simply be learning to do this on purpose. Nearly everyone has “got it” by the time they come for the second session. During the rest of the course you learn to deepen it and to prepare for the birth itself.
I don’t want to be “out of it” during the birth!
You won’t be! You’ll be in control, communicating clearly with your partner and medical staff.
So will the birth be pain-free?
There is no guarantee of this but it is possible. Hypnosis CAN completely remove pain – many people have had surgical operations purely under hypnosis, with no anaesthetic at all. They’ve remained comfortable throughout and recovered remarkably quickly. (Surgeons Jack Gibson – now retired – and Angel Escudero have carried out over 1,400 operations with only hypnotic or psychological anaesthesia).
It’s been observed that plenty of practice increases the depth of trance – so if your goal is to have no discomfort at all, be prepared to spend plenty of time learning to relax profoundly! And as you do, you and your baby can gain huge benefits before and after the birth too.
Attaining even a light depth of trance means any discomfort is likely to be less than it would have been; you can relax more between contractions and so feel better; and labour is likely to be shorter so both you and your baby recover more quickly.
In any case before it even begins, you’ll have the reassurance of knowing that you have a range of mental tools to make the whole experience more positive and enable you to manage your feelings.
I’m going to yoga classes, isn’t that enough?
Yoga’s fantastic. In combination with self-hypnosis, you can be even more in control.
Evidence through Research
A 5 year-study, based on data recorded in the labour ward, comparing 252 women who’d had 6 sessions of hypnotherapy, with a control group of 300, same age to within 2 years. Only normal deliveries included in the control group.
- Average length of first stage of labour for women’s first birth: 6.4 hours after hypnosis,
9.3 hours in control group
- Average length of first stage of labour for women’s second or subsequent birth 5.3 hours, compared to 6.2 hours
- Pain relief: first baby: 50%+ of control group had more than 100g of pethidine, compared with less than 10% of hypnotherapy group.
- Pain relief: 2nd+ baby: nearly 60% of control group had more than 100g of pethidine compared with 33% for hypnotherapy group
Dr Mary W Jenkins and Dr M.H. Pritchard, Hypnosis: Practical applications and Theoretical Considerations in Normal Labour, British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, March 1993, Vol 100 pp221-226
Self-referred first-time mothers, low risk, who had four 2.5-hour hypnosis sessions, were compared to similar controls, with variations per hospital noted for the controls.
- Epidural rates: 40-95% of control (depending on hospital) compared to 18% for hypnotised group
- Caesarean rates: 20-25% of control compared to 6.7% for hypnotised group
- Average length of labour for non-hypnotised women having first baby – 12 hours. Hypnotised women averaged 5.5 hours.
City-wide retrospective survey by midwife Shaun Gallagher.
In this Florida-based study, 47 pregnant teenagers were randomly assigned either to supportive counselling or to hypnosis. They received 4x1hr sessions at 2-week intervals. No hypnotherapist was present during labour and results were entered by unaware obstetrics staff.
- Medical intervention (including induction, forceps, ventouse, Caesarean): 60% of control group, i.e. 12 of the 20 patients compared to none of hypnotised group of 22 patients
- Hospital stay of 2+ days: 40% (i.e. 8) of control group compared to 4.5% (1) of hypnosis group
A.A. Martin, P.G. Schauble, The effects of hypnosis on the labour process and birth outcomes of pregnant adolescents, The Journal of Family Practice, May 2001, Vol.50, No5.
TM Harmon, MT Hynan, TE Tyre, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee – 1990. The benefits of hypnotic analgesia as an adjunct to childbirth education were studied in 60 nulliparous women. Subjects were divided into high and low hypnotic susceptibility groups before receiving 6 sessions of childbirth education and skill mastery. Half of the subjects in each group received a hypnotic induction at the beginning of each session; the remaining controls received relaxation and breathing exercises typically used in childbirth education. Both hypnotic subjects and highly susceptible subjects reported reduced pain. Hypnotically prepared births had shorter Stage 1 labours, less medication, higher Apgar scores, and more frequent spontaneous deliveries than control subjects’ births. Highly susceptible, hypnotically treated women had lower depression scores after birth than women in the other 3 groups.
Research at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide, where hypnosis is used for women in labour, shows it is highly effective. A study showed that women taught self-hypnosis reduced their need for analgesia by half, epidurals by 70 per cent, and were more than twice as likely to be satisfied with their pain management in labour compared with other women.
From an article in the Health pages of The Independent dated 30th January 2008 entitled “New research demonstrates effectiveness of hypnosis for labour”
6. Turning breech babies:
A study by a researcher at the University of Vermont divided 100 women into two groups. There was a control group, and the other received hypnosis with suggestions for general relaxation and release of fear and anxiety. While under hypnosis, the women were also asked why their baby was in the breech (bottom down) position. The study, which appeared in the Archives of Family Medicine, reported that 81% of the babies moved to the head-down position, a massive improvement on the results achieved by ECV, a medical procedure called external cephalic version performed by an obstetrician
Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington.
American Health, Page: 30(1), Nov, 1995
7. Apgar score:
At one and five minutes after the birth, attending staff monitor the baby’s pulse, respiration, muscle tone, skin colour and response to stimuli. They award points for each, to arrive at what is called the Apgar score: the higher the healthier. There is research that shows that babies born to mothers who’ve used hypnosis for the birth have higher Apgar scores.
TM Harmon, MT Hynan, TE Tyre, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 1990
8. Morning sickness:
Nausea, sometimes to the point of vomiting is normal in the first trimester. It is so called because the morning is when most pregnant women experience it, but in reality it can happen at any time of day or night. Whilst some women never get it at any time in the pregnancy, most experience at least some mild morning sickness. In a few women it can be severe – this condition is called hyperemesis gravidarium and may lead to dehydration. Hypnotherapy can heal morning sickness. Research confirms this.
This is a condition which occurs only during pregnancy, or immediately after delivery of the baby. Women develop high blood pressure together with protein in the urine and fluid retention (oedema). Symptoms include sudden swelling of feet and ankles, rapid weight gain, vision problems (blurring or flashing lights in front of the eyes), abdominal pain and headaches. Pre-eclampsia develops in about 1 in 10 pregnancies, usually after the sixth month of pregnancy. Most cases are mild, develop towards the end of the pregnancy, and are easily treated. However, in a severe form, it can be life-threatening for both mother and baby.