Monday, August 8, 2016

Birth Hypnotherapy

Would it surprise you to know that birth doesn't have to be a long, arduous and agonizing experience? Women in many countries around the world give birth without the drama and screaming that we in the West associate with childbirth. When you use visualization and hypnosis in the process of birthing you stand to gain so much.

Many people hear the word "hypnosis" and think of people acting foolish on stage or on television shows. Hypnosis for childbirth is not like this at all; it is more like a type of meditation. It puts the woman in a very relaxed state, but she is still herself and still very aware of everything that is happening around her and within her body. She is able to take herself out of the relaxed state, or out of hypnosis, any time she wishes, and will never do anything that she doesn't want to do while in a state of hypnosis.

Research has shown that birthing with hypnosis can help to achieve the following:
• Faster labor
• Efficient labor
• Less pain relief
• Less interventions
• A relaxed and healthy baby/less chance of distress
• Faster recovery
• Reduced incidence of post-natal depression
• Breast-feeding success

So how does hypnosis help birth?
1. Relaxation. The state of hypnosis is highly relaxing for the mind and body. In this state the entire body relaxes and so do the blood vessels. This relaxing or dilation of the blood vessels ensures a better blood flow throughout the body and especially to the womb.

2. Efficient Birth. During labor, a relaxed body will ensure that blood is diverted to the uterus in order that it can contract efficiently and progress labor smoothly and swiftly. A relaxed mind and body will ensure that the womb has the blood supply it needs. Post-natally a better milk supply is encouraged through good blood flow.

3. Calm the Emotions. The effect on the mind and emotions is profound. With hypnotherapy a woman can relieve stress and anxiety. This relief can help to achieve a calm birthing experience and later calm the emotions during the post-natal period.

4. Overcome Fear. Fear is the single greatest factor that you can change about your labor. Fear inhibits labor, constricts the blood supply and increases the perception of pain. This leads to the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle, where fear creates tension, which creates pain, which creates more fear of pain and so it goes on. If you can remove fear then you can aid your own body to do what comes naturally and that is to birth a baby comfortably and easily.

5. Stress Relief. When we are stressed or fearful we release adrenaline and other stress hormones into the blood stream. This tenses our bodies and a tense body feels pain and creates its own pain. Blood rushes to the arms and legs ready to fight or run, taking blood away from the uterus where it is needed to help the uterus to contract. If there is not enough blood flow to the uterus, it works less efficiently and slower and blood flow to the baby can be disrupted, resulting eventually in distress. Other blood vessels can be constricted, again stopping the uterus from working well. You can see that when hypnosis removes stress from the experience of childbirth, then a swift, comfortable birth of a relaxed baby will normally result.

6. Relaxed Baby. A tense mother will release stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream. These can in turn stress the baby, who then appears distressed to medical staff and interventions can result in order to speed up labor or bring the baby out quickly. Babies are designed to withstand many hours of labor and a relaxed baby will cope well even if labor does not progress as smoothly or quickly as hoped.

7. Post-Natal Recovery. A relaxed mother will have good blood flow around the body. This blood flow will assist soft tissues in recovery and promote a good milk supply. Stress is known to have an adverse effect on milk production so the relaxed mother has a head start.

By using hypnosis, a mother in labor can help herself to remain calm. Blood flow is improved and comfort increased. A relaxed mind and body can ease a labour to feel in control and positive. This good perception of labor and good blood flow will help post-natal recovery and the production of milk.

So how is all this achieved?

A woman’s body is designed for childbirth, it naturally opens up to allow a baby through, the brain naturally releases pain-relieving endorphins. But if you are too tense and trying to run away from the sensations then you can interfere with this process and end up feeling pain. Many women fear feeling out of control during labour. But what do they really mean by this?

Yes, the body is doing something strange that we are not in total control of but it is giving birth to a baby – a happy event. Firstly the cervix is opening and then the uterus is contracting hugely, it is a big muscle working hard. With a first baby, the woman has never felt these sensations before. But they are only sensations, just as tensing up an arm or a hand produces a sensation, a sensation of muscle contraction. If you can overcome the fear of something never before experienced then you are halfway there. The sensation of the uterus contracting to push out a baby is a powerful feeling, and you cannot stop it. You need to embrace the feeling, acknowledge it and accept it and then you will be able to achieve relaxation and allow your body to get on with what it needs to do. If you try to fight or run away, that’s when tension is produced and the fear-tension-pain cycle is started.

Women who have used hypnotic techniques as part of their childbirth preparation will have learnt how to induce their own trance, how to turn off pain, they will have addressed their fears and will have learnt how to use time distortion. Their lack of fear and acceptance of powerful feelings in the body usually contribute to a very comfortable and positive birth experience, which in turn contributes to a positive post-natal phase and less instances of depression.

It is difficult to find major disadvantages of practicing hypnosis for birth because there are no real risks associated with it. In the worst case scenario, if the woman finds that hypnosis isn't working as pain management for her during labor she can choose to ask for an epidural or endure the pain.

Sweet Pea in the Pod

Sedona, Arizona

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