How Hypnosis Helps Baby Birthing & Baby Bonding
Obstetric Uses of Hypnosis
Hypnosis has been widely used in the preparation for labour, delivery and post partum issues such as reduced bleeding and abundant milk supply (Sauer & Oster 1997). Hypnosis has also proven an effective treatment for hyperemesis (vomiting), for slowing premature labour and control of anxiety and stress.
Hypnosis in Preparation for Childbirth
Hypnotic techniques have been shown to successfully:
- reduce pain and discomfort in delivery,
- reduce the need for chemo-anaesthesia – this diminishes risk for mother and child
- make suturing the episiotomy more comfortable
- may help to reduce the average duration of labour.
Children delivered in natural non-traumatic ways have higher APGAR scores. Hypnosis can help to control and inhibit anxiety. Peterson (’97) stresses that reducing maternal anxiety is the psychological factor most significant normalising pregnancy.
The Advantages of Hypnosis in Childbirth
Stone and Burrows (1980) list the advantages of hypnosis in childbirth as;
- Economy of effort
- Simplicity of effort – The hypnotic technique is relatively easy to learn.
The patient can use self hypnosis and apply this technique to many other parts of her life. Hypnosis may be used in labour for patients who have had no previous experience and trance does not necessarily need to be deep to be effective.
Flexibility of hypnotic methods
The hypnotic technique must be framed in terms of the mothers’ particular needs.
- Suggestions repeated in various ways which stress a sense of COMPETENCY and CONTROL of whatever happens during the birthing experiences. Anticipation replaces any apprehension.
- A reframing of the words “labour pain”. Use of preferred words such as “contractions hardening, tightenings”. A stress on the power and naturalness of this process.
- Suggestions about trusting the body – this natural unconscious process.
- Symptoms which enhance relaxation responses throughout the contraction and rest – phases of the first stage of labour.
- Time distortion suggestions. (Time of contraction passes as soon as it begins – leaving time to rest in between).
- Deliberate redirection of attention from discomfort to comfort and pleasurable anticipation about the baby’s arrival.
- Suggestions about being able to attend and adjust to any questions or comments if this is necessary. (Bejenke in Barber ‘96).
- Specific cues to deepen trance or aid self hypnosis. Partners can be involved in this process and any specific suggestions should only be given after discussion.
For instance touch in a particular way needs to be acceptable to the woman. Indeed touch can be problematic during labour but the client will cope with this. (Cues that happen automatically such as the doctor’s voice are also very important.)
Just before complete dilation at the end of the first stage of labour suggestions about being able to use techniques such as breathing and panting to manage and not push. With complete dilation and the normal passage of the baby’s head down the birth canal, suggestions to enhance and enjoy the pushing. Suggestions about successfully delivering the placenta, recovering easily and quickly, enjoying feeding etc.
A very important training suggestion which must be continually referred to is: You will know when your labour has really begun and when it is time to get ready to go to hospital.
Audio recordings can be used for re-enforcement of self hypnosis techniques and for practice and extended training at home.
Direct conversation by the hypnotherapist with the obstetrician may be very necessary.
It is always wise to suggest that the client inform her doctor about the hypnotherapy sessions.
If it is at all possible, it is very important and effective to involve the partner as much as possible. The partner can be an invaluable ‘co-therapist’ during labour, particularly if the therapist is not the obstetrician and not planning to be at the birth. I would also stress that involving the partner increases understanding, mutual support and bonding between a couple. Both feel involved and interested in making the whole experience as positive and natural as possible. If possible involve the partner in some treatment sessions.
When to train a pregnant woman in hypnosis? No fixed rule. Hypnosis has been known to be effective even two days prior to delivery (Sauer & Oster ‘97) but it is generally recommended that there be several sessions over a several week period during mid to late pregnancy. There may be need for intervention early in the pregnancy if there is a need to control nausea.
I am convinced, after working with many women, that hypnosis has an important contribution to make to childbirth preparation, management and recovery.