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).
-James Baraz

For many women, the experience of childbirth follows this story line:

She knows the time is nearing, she can sense that these twinges of pain are different from the ones she has experienced over the last few months. With every sensation she concentrates, waiting for the moment she will begin to experience “it”. She knows “it’” is coming, she knows she can’t stop “it”. She returns to thoughts of what comes after, momentarily comforted by the thoughts until another twinge, this one doubles her over for a moment, pain stretching like fingers from her lower abdomen down into her thighs. She braces herself for more, she has heard so much about “it”, she’s terrified of “it” and wants to avoid ‘It” at all costs…”it”…this unknown predator that is stalking her, the one she knows she cannot outrun, she knows she cannot elude. She can fight it, yes, but the futility of that makes fighting a fleeting thought. No, she needs to find a way to cope, to get through it, to make it to the other side where she can hold the baby that is the end result.

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.

Fear Tension Pain cycle during childbirth

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?

She feels a twinge and takes a deep breath, as she exhales she feels her body begin to rock back and forth, slowly as though she were under water being guided by the currant of the ocean. She knows she is instigating this movement but it feels so natural that she can’t imagine not moving. She knows this is her body getting ready to birth her baby she closes her eyes and brings her attention inward. As she feels another wave beginning to build she instinctively begins to move again, allowing the force of the wave to build and breathing with it to assist it in its work. As the wave starts to release she experiences an expanding relief and rush of what can only be described as bliss. She rides this blissful wave into a deep state of relaxation. As the waves get stronger she stays present in the moment, she breathes in strength and breathes out tension, she imagines she can see her baby moving down and her body opening up.

Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga
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Prenatal Vnyasa Yoga DVD

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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
  • general positive affects of a meditation practice (full article). Link
  • On meditation for the treatment of chronic pain. Link

Hypnosis and Relaxation MP3s

These recordings were written to help the listener achieve a state of peace and comfort, and to help facilitate the desired birth out come