Pregnancy Hypnosis & Relaxation
Whether you call it hypnosis, meditation, relaxation, mindfulness or simply deep relaxation, such practices are gaining much acceptance in the birth world -and at large- to help mediate stress, create healthier balanced lives, and aid women in labor to manage the intense sensations of childbirth.
Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different. Enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will).
Being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).
For many women, the experience of childbirth follows this story line:
This, unfortunately, is how many women experience childbirth. They feel like victims to this event that must happen TO them in order for them to have a baby. This feeling makes labor into an outside force that a woman has no power over, that she is at the mercy of, she begs “it” to stop, for someone to free her from “it”. Her logical mind knows that labor is a natural process, the culmination of months of growing her beautiful child inside of her, but fear is a strong motivator and irrational processor and has the ability to turn what could be a magical, beautiful experience into a nightmarish event.
So what makes the difference? How can some people have the experience described above while others experience bliss and joy from the same event?
It is important to know that labor is not some ”thing” that happens TO you. If you are in this mind set you are a victim to every sensation happening in your body. Many women get caught in this mentality before and during childbirth and then throw themselves into the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle.
The woman starts to feel a sensation in her body, in anticipation she tenses up and that sensation is automatically felt as pain so she becomes more afraid, her body tenses up more, the pain increases and she becomes MORE afraid, followed by MORE tension. This is why women scream in labor. Fear is absolutely one of the reasons that women experience childbirth, as a trauma or negative experience, but fear is only the result of a conditioned way of thinking that is the real culprit.
Women are taught by our society to be afraid of childbirth that it is the most painful thing that ever happens to you. This is reinforced by the media AND many in the medical community. We must redefining “Pain”.
When women learn to connect to their own bodies and the processes in their bodies as well as connecting to the baby inside of them they are able to redefine the sensations they are feeling and completely change their experience. A woman who is connected to her body understands the energy she is feeling during childbirth is a powerful and dynamic force that she has created from deep within herself so that she can birth her baby. There is no outside force exerting pain upon her, even when labor is augmented it is her own body, her own self creating an incredible amount of energy to give birth, to assist her baby into the world. Women have the ability to tap into this force and work with it instead of fighting against it. Redefining sensations is only the beginning; women must learn to communicate with their bodies in a different way. They must first LISTEN to their bodies and learn how to follow and interpret the signals they receive. Being aware of this need for connection is not enough, however, to make it happen.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.― Marianne Williamson
It takes practice. It is like learning another language, one you are vaguely familiar with, and you can pick out only a few words at first but the more you immerse yourself in the language the more fluent you become. Practicing this can take different forms for different people. Yoga and relaxation are fantastic ways to learn to communicate with your body on a deeper level, connecting your breath to your movements and observing the way your body responds to different poses or positions can be invaluable. Making these practices part of your everyday life and bringing awareness into every sensation in your body is very helpful. We tend to only focus on the sensations we feel that we don’t like or are uncomfortable for us, to get us back to a state of “normal”. We don’t walk around thinking about how comfortable our neck feels but when it hurts it absolutely gets our attention.
Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.
– Joseph Campbell
So what can the beginning of childbirth feel like to someone who is connected to her body and not caught in the fear-tension-pain cycle?
Additional info on Hypnosis and Relaxation practice:
- Positive effect of hypnosis for birth (just an abstract). Link
- List of scientific studies (and their abstracts/links) for hynosis in labor. Link | Link | Link | Link | Link | Link | Link
- General positive affects of a meditation practice (full article). Link
- On meditation for the treatment of chronic pain. Link