Labor and delivery is a human female thing.
We’re stuck with it. We revel in it. Well, some of us do. And we deal with it
when the time comes. Some deal with it better than others. No, let me correct
that. We deal with it “differently”.
At the time of delivery and labor, women in a
position of “natural” childbirth have no choice as to the focus of their
attention. Their bodies scream at them. Pain can be so intense, all attempts at
free-thinking are lost. This is where the practice of self-hypnosis is a rare
treasure and should be incorporated into your pre-delivery regime.
The word “hypnosis” was not formally
invented until 1876 when the concept of an induced sleep-like state began its
journey into the light of medical and psychological journals and reports.
Regardless of the infancy of the word itself, the act or concept of this
mesmerized state is as old as human kind.
In temples in the ancient world, myths of
“sleeping prophets” were commonplace. The Oracle at Delphi is a prime
example of the use of self-hypnosis in a very grand style. The Oracles induced
their trance-like state by the use of herbs strewn on the braziers of the temple
and with a meditative alpha-enhancing technique.
In midwifery throughout time, breathing in
steady rhythms has always been advised. The more the mother could stay relaxed
and focus on her body, the easier the labor and delivery would be.
Many cultures have used drums, rattles and
other instruments to softly keep a rhythm near the labored woman. This soft
background beat can be an enormous help during this most emotional time. Ancient
Egyptians used gold or tin beads drawn through a bone or metallic ring as a way
to keep time. During the early days following the Dark Ages, a “counter” was
brought in for the purpose of timing the event, although this practiced also
served as a way to focus the mother’s attention.
I began studying hypnosis in my early teens.
Call it what you will – hypnosis, breath-therapy or meditation, it all comes
down to breathing, oxygen intake and calm. An alpha state is achieved by the
rhythmic intake of breath and the slow but complete exhalation. Sleep inducing
hormones such as melatonin are released and the body begins its delicious decent
into a non-physical awareness.
Most people think that self-hypnosis during
labor is meant to focus the attention of the pregnant woman away from her labor
pains. However, this is not the case. If she does the complete breathing and
begins the release of the naturally produced chemicals, she should focus her
entire being on her uterus. By focusing in an alpha state, she is bringing the
concept of pain from the darkness of fear into the light of acknowledgment,
therefore moving it into the experience of “just another sensation”. Pain in
our bodies is the product of our emotional and psychological responses. It is
our fight or flight response to our own injuries or hurt. The body stresses at
the signs of pain and begins to tense. Muscles that are tense or rigid cause the
body to respond more severely to the pain.
The concept of self-hypnosis takes this
response and reverses it. Should the laboring mother begin her hypnotic journey,
her system does not have an opportunity to tense the other muscles of her body
during the contractions. She focuses her breathing and attention entirely on the
contracting uterus in her belly and moves through the pain with less stress and
therefore, less pain.
Don’t get me wrong, self-hypnosis is unlikely
to eliminate the pain for you. I used the technique in both the births of my
daughters and was surprised at how focused I was able to remain. Hypnosis let me
“lose touch” with the rest of my body and focus my mother-self on bringing
my baby to the world. It hurt. I won’t lie. Labor is a pain indescribable in
many ways. But it is a pain that will eventually cease. It cannot last forever.
It must end at some point. Hypnosis makes it possible to turn the pain of labor
into a “known sensation”. Without the fear of the intensity of the next wave
of pain, you move toward it more relaxed and better able to control your
Self-hypnosis releases naturally produced
chemicals which you can take full advantage of without worrying about harming
your baby. Our bodies are amazing machines and if our responses can be somewhat
controlled, the experience of pain can be reduced significantly. Other benefits
to the use of such body-relaxing techniques are less muscle soreness following
delivery, less likelihood of broken blood vessels in the eyes, a stronger and
easier flow of breast milk for your new infant and a calmer mother too. You also
will find that pain meds are reduced and postpartum depression is significantly
To keep postpartum depression at bay once you
take the baby home, continue a short session of self-hypnosis daily. Postpartum
blues are caused by hormone rushes and imbalances in your body following the
extreme act of delivery. The secretion of melatonin in the system helps to
balance and often reduce these hormone rushes, bringing calm to the mother.
Relaxed with your new baby, breast milk flow is steadier, the baby senses less
tension in its environment and healing time for your body is reduced.
Enjoy the experience of birthing your children.
Don’t let pain and stress keep you from the biggest event of your life. Breath
and relax through the pain and deliver your child into a stress-free world. Both
you and your baby will benefit.
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