What Are the Benefits of Hypnobirthing Techniques and Visualizations?
It’s normal to feel anxious about giving birth, whether or not you plan to use pain medications.
Although you never know exactly what will happen during labor and delivery, preparing yourself may help you feel calmer and more in control throughout the birth experience.
Not so long ago, birthing women were routinely given strong pain medications and had babies via twilight birth — they remembered nothing of labor and delivery once the medications wore off.
Eventually, there was a shift in people’s understanding of the birth process-a shift bringing us back to our bodies’ ancient wisdom. In 1914, leading obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read began to advocate for natural childbirth.
By the 1950s the Lamaze method and the Bradley method of childbirth became popular. These methods focused on preparing women for birth and allowing freedom of movement during labor.
By the 1980s a new method appeared, known as hypnobirthing.
What is Hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing uses hypnosis techniques to help you get in touch with your natural instincts while you are in labor. This method helps you trust your body to do what it needs to do and aims to get you through the birthing process in the most natural way possible.
Hypnobirthing and taking hypnobirthing classes to prepare for giving birth and managing pain during labor have become popular trends in the pregnancy space.
But does hypnobirthing really help with pain during childbirth?
Let’s explore what the hypnobirthing method is, how it works, and the benefits it can offer.
The Hypnobirthing Method
Hypnobirthing is a method based on releasing fear and anxiety surrounding childbirth. It was developed in the 1980s by Marie Mongan. Mongan, who was a hypnotherapist and childbirth educator, taught women to enter a state of deep relaxation.
The Mongan Method sought to reduce stress hormones and promote oxytocin (the “feel good hormone). The was intended to help reduce pain in the body and to trust the physical process of childbirth so that women could have a positive birth experience.
How Does Hypnobirthing Work?
Hypnobirthing helps you enter into a state of deep relaxation using a technique called self-hypnosis. To get into this deep state, you will use tools such as affirmations, breathing techniques, and visualization.
The purpose of self-hypnosis is to mentally let go so that you can allow your body to do its job. When you surrender to the birthing process, pain is reduced because there is less tension caused by fear and resistance.
There is also less physical resistance so your muscles can contract and push the way they need to for you to birth your child.
Let’s break down some of the relaxation techniques used in hypnobirthing:
- Positive Affirmations: Repeat positive statements to yourself such as, “My body knows how to give birth.”
- Audiotapes: Listen to guided relaxation audio recordings.
- Deep Breathing: Count to 4 as you breathe in and 7 as you breathe out.
- Positive language: Your words matter. For example, hypnobirthing childbirth classes will teach you to call your contractions “surges” which has a more positive connotation.
Allowing yourself to trust your body and your instincts requires a deep trust in your body’s abilities. Practicing self-hypnosis during pregnancy will help you achieve deep relaxation so that you can quickly and efficiently enter into this state when it’s time for you to give birth.
When you do give birth, your experience will be more uplifting and positive.
Benefits of Hypnobirthing
Hypnobirthing has many benefits for you and your baby. Let’s break down a few of the reasons why you might want to try hypnobirthing.
Birth interventions save babies’ lives, which is a positive thing. However, they come with their own set of risks. When you need an intervention, such as an emergency C-section or an episiotomy, it is of course important for your doctor to make whatever decision is necessary.
But it’s ideal when you can avoid interventions. Women who use hypnobirthing techniques may have a lower risk of needing unnecessary interventions.
Greater Confidence in Your Body’s Abilities
Learning to trust your body and your birth process can be empowering and give you the confidence to go through with labor and delivery without the use of the epidural or Pitocin.
The sense of empowerment from having had a calm birth may make you more confident if you encounter difficulties with breastfeeding or infant care. It might even encourage you to have more children!
The first hour postpartum is an essential time for mother-infant bonding. Ideally, the baby will be placed on its mother’s chest immediately after birth. This can help promote breastfeeding success and may have long-term benefits for the baby.
Fear of pain is one of the most pressing concerns of those going towards childbirth, and it’s easy to see why. Pain and discomfort are things that we naturally avoid and it can be scary knowing that you are going straight into an experience that will hurt you physically.
Hypnobirthing has been proven to help reduce the perception of pain. This may help you feel braver and if you would like to have a natural birth without the use of pain relief drugs, this can make a big difference in helping you achieve that goal.
You may be able to spend less time laboring if hypnobirthing techniques allow you to relax your body and surrender to the natural process. Each contraction works to dilate your cervix a little bit further so that your baby’s head can fit through the birth canal.
This is a slow and gradual process, but it may not last quite as long when you are relaxed and trusting the process.
Potential Risks and Challenges of Hypnobirthing
There are some potential downsides to be aware of when it comes to hypnobirthing. Despite its many differences, it’s important to understand the limitations as well. Ahead, we have outlined the disadvantages of hypnobirthing:
Not a Completely Painless Labor
Hypnobirthing can help reduce your perception of pain and it can help you learn to accept discomfort. But, this does not generally mean that your labor will be pain-free.
Feeling the pain of childbirth can be discouraging if you are trying to practice hypnobirthing. You might feel like you have failed or that the process just won’t work once you experience the pain of contractions for the first time.
One way to avoid becoming discouraged is to hire a birth doula. A doula helps to guide you through the process, supports your pain management, and can help you stick to your birth plan.
Can’t Prevent Necessary Interventions
While hypnobirthing may help you avoid unnecessary interventions that might be, it cannot guarantee that you will not need some kind of medical intervention or pain management assistance during childbirth. Interventions can save your baby’s life.
You and your baby may need some extra help whether or not you are in a calm and relaxed state of mind and whether or not you choose to go the natural birth route or choose to have the epidural.
Hypnobirthing is not an automatic ticket to a natural birth or a guaranteed home birth (and that’s okay!)
Taking a Hypnobirthing Class
You can take a hypnobirthing class from an instructor certified in The Mongan Method of hypnobirthing by searching their website for hypnobirthing classes near you.
There are hypnobirthing educators all over the United States and elsewhere in the world. Some birth centers provide these classes.
In a hypnobirthing course you can expect to learn:
- How to care for yourself during pregnancy
- The stages of labor
- What to expect during childbirth
- Relaxation techniques
- Pain management
- Ways your birth companion can support you
- Caring for your baby
- Taking care of yourself postpartum
You can never know exactly what will happen when you give birth, but you can prepare yourself and learn techniques that allow you to feel empowered.
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