Hypnosis for fertility, pregnancy & birth - or 'hypnobirthing', as it's commonly known - is becoming increasingly popular in the UK and with good reason.
As the midwife was keen to drive home during our antenatal classes - the key to an easy pregnancy and birth is staying as relaxed and stress-free as possible. That's exactly what hypnotherapy does.
Reducing our anxiety allows the body do what it's designed to do. Stress, worry, obsessing, overthinking - this all has a huge impact on us physically and can literally 'shut down' the natural processes involved in birth.
In particular, stress switches off the hormones we need for things to happen quickly and easily - Oxytocin (which helps the muscles of the uterus and birth canal contract) and endorphins (which are our natural painkillers).
Unfortunately our culture has learned to view birth as a painful, traumatic and dangerous experience, which just adds to our stress levels - but if we can learn to look forward to birth in a more positive way, we can help prevent these things and increase the likelihood of having an enjoyable birth.
The use of hypnosis during pregnancy has been shown to help women sleep better, enjoy their pregnancy more, reduce the perception of pain, reduce the length of labour, reduce the need for pain relief and intervention during labour, and even reduce the likelihood of postnatal depression. It also tends to result in calmer babies, which sleep and feed better (which has to be an added bonus!).
So how does it work? Hypnotherapy works with the subconscious mind, enabling us to overcome negative beliefs and thoughts and replace them with a positive picture of how things will be. In the build up to giving birth and during the event itself, your subconscious mind can then stay relaxed and not kick in with its default panic 'fight or flight' response - keeping those essential hormones coming, helping you relax, enjoy the experience and trust your body to do what it's designed to do, easily and naturally.
Having used hypnosis throughout pregnancy I can hand-on-heart say I felt incredibly calm and confident as the big day approached - even though I eventually went almost 2 weeks overdue before things started to happen naturally. I actually found I was looking forward to it and intrigued by the process, rather than stressing about being overdue!
I also felt incredibly well and energised throughout pregnancy itself - and I'm certain that staying calm helped make sure I didn't suffered a lot of the aches and pains that so many women are unfortunate to experience.
Birth itself happened quickly and calmly - I was already 9cm dilated on arrival at the Midwife Led Unit. I was able to use self-hypnosis to control my experience of contractions, breathing through them and focusing on keeping my body relaxed and mobile. I just about had time to get in the birthing pool and enjoy it for a few minutes before our little boy arrived, with just a little gas and air for company!
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