The Way To A More Peaceful Delivery?
A guest post by Tania Tod
Imagine a laboring woman, and you’ll probably conjure up images of pain, screaming, and a fair deal of drama. This is certainly what we see in the media, and most women have a lifetime of scare stories and bad mock-up labors from TV and film to make them terrified by the time they get pregnant! But is there a more serene way to labor? It is perhaps even perhaps even possible to have a painless birth?
Hypnobirthing programs are designed to make women have a better birth experience. They aim to take the fear out of labor, and often the pain too. This is achieved with the help of self-hypnosis techniques, positive affirmations and meditation during pregnancy that specifically visualizes the birth experience as the expectant mother would wish it to go. While they still have their baby in the womb, hypnobirthing moms are encouraged to think about their ideal labor and birth, and visualize as many details as possible, including smells, what position they will be in when their baby is born, and who will be there with them.
Moms who take part in such programs also listen to positive affirmations that will make them feel more positive during labor. Hypnobirthing advocates use terms like “surges” instead of contractions, and “I can feel the power of birth” instead of “Boy, that HURTS”. Skeptics like me would love to deny that self-hypnosis could ever take the pain out of someone’s childbirth, and dismiss programs like Hypnobabies as scams. In fact, this is exactly what I did do when I first heard of hypnosis for birth.
Then, I watched some videos of laboring women who were using Hypnobabies and other hypnobirth programs. I have to admit that I was amazed, because I saw woman after woman going through labor with a zen expression on her face, and not vocalizing (AKA shouting out in pain) at all. These relaxation techniques were hard to make fun of after witnessing that. Whatever these ladies did, it was obviously working for them.
A woman who had a hypnobirth told me that she was quite aware of her surroundings throughout labor and could feel people touching her, and hear nurses talking. But she managed to find that calm and peaceful place within her that allowed her to accept the labor without fear — though she did, she said, feel some pain. Others report a painless labor and birth, and if you’ve watched the videos, you have to believe them.
So, how does hypnobirthing work? One thing that all women who use these techniques have in common is that they actively prepare for their labor for a long period during their pregnancy. They have meditated, gone over the labor in their mind, and probably read lots of books about giving birth too. By the time these woman start having contractions, they are so familiar with the process of birth that they are not scared of what is happening to them. Hypnoborthing mothers expect a positive experience, rather than — like most women do — pain and drama. When you approach hypnobirthing from that angle, it is really not surprising that it works. Fear increases pain, and drains blood from the non-essential parts of our body in preparation for fight or flight. This includes the uterus, so real fear can actually obstruct a labor. Out of all the pain relief options during labor, confidence in your body and positive thinking may be the only one that women can practice without anyone’s help. And who wouldn’t be empowered by that?
Olivia, a mom of two, blogs about fertility, pregnancy and beyond at Trying To Conceive.