So, what is it that you do again? You teach hypnobirthing classes? Mmhh, interesting… [you can actually tell the person is thinking: “Did she really said -hypno? She said birthing, but I think she also said something about hypnosis. This must be some new trend, some tree-hugging-hyppie-kinda-thing]
It is like ignoring the elephant in the room. You don’t talk about it, you go around it, you move away from it, but the uneasy feeling remains. I say, let’s include the elephant in the conversation then!
To begin with, I agree with those who find the prefix “hypno” to be scary and a bit suspicious. Probably you associate hypnosis with images like the following ones…
Am I right? 😉
Hypnosis, for many of us is a scam, or an odd, misterious thing, mostly a non scientific method of influencing and manipulating someone, fluff at best.
I get it. I, myself, was never interested in hypnosis during my years of psychological studies. I had preconceptions too. And then, I got into Childbirth Education. I knew already how important is mental and emotional balance in health and wellbeing, but I didn’t know that the same theoretical and practical framework could be valuable in pregnancy, labor and birth. I then learned about the physiology of birth and the work mind and body do together, so I looked for an approach to birthing that was simple, practical, scientific and effective. Something that would help parents prepare for the birth of their babies in the most natural and respectful way.
Only to find that hypnobirthing was what I was searching for.
Hypnosis or self-hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness, the same in which you go twice a day, right before falling asleep or before you wake up. It’s a calm, peaceful and relaxed state of mind, characterized by an elevated receptivity of the unconscious mind, the irrational, instinctive and evolutionary ancient part of your brain.
Hypnotic states are common. Have you noticed how easier a running or jogging session become, as you put on the right music on your mp3 reader or as your gaze is focused on a specific point in your horizon and you lose sight of what’s going on around you? That’s called being “in the zone”, you’re awake but able to reduce perception of signals that distract you, or that hinder the progress of the intense physical activity that you’re doing. Although that is just a state of mind, it has an effect on your physical performance, allowing you to have more energy, endurance and reduce perception of fatigue and exaustion. Many athletes use techniques of this kind, so does hypnobirthing.
The fact that a state of mind can influence the body is at the core of modern medicine, sport psychology, mindfulness and holistic treatments, and many other scientific disciplines. Just think about the placebo effect: if your mind believes something, it will strive to make it real.
In hypnobirthing we follow the same principle: the mind leads, the body follows. Hypnobirthing is based on the natural functioning of body and mind, it acknowledges the power of words and images, and the role of mind in labor and birth.
So, it’s simple, natural and normal.
In hypnobirthing we use deep relaxation techniques, similar to those successfully used for pain relief, to help individuals struggling with addiction problems, with eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder etc. Hypnobirthing is hypnosis applied to birth, and it’s effective.
There are 15 years of pioneering work, done in the UK by Katharine Graves, which show (there is a research done in 2012) that hypnobirthing makes a relevant difference in birth. Hypnobirthing moms are impressed about how calm, confident and in control they were during their birthing experiences.
I guess the idea many people have of hypnosis is “stage hypnosis”, some spectacular (and mostly fake) gig about a sort of entertainer that makes someone do or say things they wouldn’t if they were in a conscious state of mind.
Would that be the reason why some people are suspicious of hypnobirthing? Maybe. Or maybe is that many of us do believe hypnosis to be a powerful tool, on one hand, but also a technique that takes away their control, on the other. And we don’t like to lose control.
In fact, hypnobirthing won’t take away your control, it will enhance it. You will never lose control, you will be empowered to tap into a deeply relaxed, calm and peaceful place in your mind. Moreover, you will pick and choose the techniques you need, use them at home, with the support of your partner, at your own pace and as often as you will see fit.
Hypnobirthing is what you make of it. It is like the sun, it makes hot the sand at the beach, and it melts your ice cream. The sun is the same, but the effects are different, depending on the characteristics of the objects. So, depending on your personality, previous experiences, sensibility and birth preferences, you can tailor hypnobirthing around you.
Birth, with hypnobirthing, will be something you’re looking forward to.
Birth should be a memorable moment of your life, something you do, not something that happens.
And now that we talked a bit about the elephant in the room, let’s not stop here!