Overcome fear and use hypnosis to reduce pain in childbirth.
Imagine yourself labouring in the jungle. Suppose you saw or even thought you saw, a tiger lurking in the nearby shadows. What do you think would happen? Would you have a conscious choice in what happens next? You may think you could control the situation, but your body would already have made the decision.
Simply believing a tiger is in your birth space would instantly stimulate a healthy “fight or flight” mechanism. Labour contractions would slow down or even stop, not resuming until you felt safe.
Fear activates the nervous system into producing adrenalin (the danger hormone), which helps give you the “umph” or power to prepare for flight, ie run away or flight, to confront the threat.
Your cervix tightens (to prevent baby from being born where it's not safe) and increased levels of adrenalin, neutralise the oxytocin (hormone responsible for stimulating your uterus into contracting) and the endorphins (the pain killing hormone), so labour naturally slows down and birthing may stop altogether.
Experiencing fear during labour leads to your heart rate increasing; your breathing becoming shallow and rapid (reducing the oxygen in your body and to your baby); your heart pumping blood faster around your body so raising your blood pressure and blood being redirected away from your uterus (and your baby) to your limbs, essentially to prepare you for action.
This 'fight or flight' preparation uses a great deal of energy. As our bodies were designed only to be in this heightened state for a few minutes at a time, you can imagine remaning in it for prolonged periods would be extremely draining, if not dangerous.
You may be asking, “What does a women giving birth in a jungle have to do with me?”.
This is essentially about fear; fear of pain, fear of dying, fear of tearing, fear of losing control. Your nervous system doesn't know the difference between real or imagined dangers, so will respond in the same way to both. Ever felt the rush of adrenalin and fear watching a horror movie? Is the threat real or imagined?
If you go into labour feeling frightened, your system will respond accordingly. The fear would lead to increased adrenalin in your body; increased tension in your muscles and cervix, with less “contraction” hormones being produced, so your uterus would have to work much harder to flex and tighten. Subsequently making contractions more painful, in the same way that if you tense up when you're in pain, the pain becomes greater.
While there is fear in childbirth, your birthing body will not be allowed to flow easily through the natural progression of labour. In addition, the minute you introduce artificial hormones with induction, the body stops producing the right amount of natural hormones, including the wonderfully powerful endorphins or natural pain killers.
Being relaxed during labour, your body responds in a different way to the fear filled scenario above.
Hypnosis is a natural state which we all experience many times a day. It's a time when our conscious mind, (analytical & rational mind) takes a step back, and our subconscious (feelings, memories & emotions) come more to the forefront. For example, when you're day dreaming, reading a book and realise you've read the same thing over and over, or driving on a journey and not remembering anything about the journey.
With 'intended' hypnosis, you purposefully take yourself into a daydream-like state, using music, soothing images and guided visualisation. Once the critical and analytical part of your mind also relaxes, you become more receptive to positive suggestions and affirmations. As your mind doesn't know the difference between imagination and reality, the more you give yourself positive suggestions, the more real they become.
The Natal Hypnotherapy™ Birth preparation CDs guide mothers into a deeply relaxed state using breathing techniques, guided imagery and visualisation. Once she's in a deeply relaxed day-dream like state, the CD continues with a detailed visualisation of 'giving birth', from a physiological perspective.
By listening to your CD over and over again before the labour, your body and mind become more and more familiar with the processes of a calm relaxed birth, so increasing your confidence and reducing a lot of the anxiety associated with birth. As the mind does not know the difference between imagination and reality, once you go into the labour for real, all the suggestions just kick-in, as the body recognises the sensations and triggers and says “Oh yes, we have done this before – this is a sign for me to relax, stay calm etc..”.
So in summary, the key to a comfortable birth is keeping levels of anxiety and adrenaline to a minimum. By staying relaxed and focused and by breathing steadily and rhythmically, your body will have the best chance of producing the right birthing hormones to enable you to birth your baby unhindered by chemicals or drugs.
© Maggie Howell 2006