How Can Hypnosis Help You In Labor?
Of the most popular birthing approaches today, hypnosis is gaining ground as an effective tool to use during labor. While anyone can use general hypnosis, the method that teaches how to use it in labor is called Hypnobirthing. I am not a hypnobirthing instructor, but as a doula I have worked with women who have used it in labor and found it helpful.
In my last post on hypnosis for birth, I described the foundational psychology behind hypnosis. Before reading on, I encourage you to take a look at it! You can read it here.
So, how can we utilize this tool in labor?
Well, to start with, consider this: a woman is already experiencing a type of hypnosis in active labor anyways – without even trying to be!
You see, when a woman starts active labor, her thinking brain shuts off and the primal brain takes over. It’s one of the ways that birth professionals can identify that a woman is in labor: can she answer a basic question? If the answer is no, or if it takes considerable effort for her to do so, she’s likely in active labor.
Her mind is already in a sort of hypnosis – it’s deeply relaxed and the subconscious is at the forefront.
How do I mean?
Hypnosis is essentially just a mental state of being. In hypnosis, your mind is deeply relaxed, and your subconscious mind is especially vulnerable to suggestion. This is exactly what is happening in labor as many women can attest!
Women who have experienced natural labor report that labor feels very mentally hazy – like a fog of sorts. They have no concept of time, they cannot hold a conversation, and they don’t know what they want. As soon as they start pushing, the fog lifts a little bit and they can converse and engage a little better. Then, as soon as the baby is born, it’s all over and instantly they are back to being themselves.
A woman’s subconscious mind is highly receptive during labor. In a very real way, intentional language and messages can go a long way toward sustaining a labor. The body responds to the mind – and the messages that we give it truly matter. The impact that these messages have is heightened when in hypnosis and deep focus.
A woman can give her mind specific messages about labor that help her with the entire process. We call these affirmations. For example:
- I am strong
- I am powerful
- My body was made for this
- I can do this
- I AM doing this
- I can’t wait to meet my baby
- I can do anything for a time
- My labor will be fast and easy
- I trust in the birthing process
And these messages can carry a mother through her labor.
The big question most mothers have is: Will it help with the pain of labor?
Well, it certainly can. I’ve seen it be a great tool for this use. However, it’s important to note that a mother should never feel that she has somehow “failed” if she prepares to have a pain free birth through hypnosis and ends up feeling the intensity of her contractions.
That said, does hypnosis help a great number of women with pain management? Absolutely.
Hypnosis for labor is most effective if a mother has been practicing its use as long as possible during her pregnancy. She can intentionally give her mind the message that birth is safe, normal, and attainable. As she practices saying affirmations, listening to relaxation scripts, learning to intentionally read her body for areas of tension, and visualizing her birth, she prepares her mind and body to relax in the same way during labor.
Furthermore, it’s entirely risk-free. Hypnosis in birth is simply strengthening, taking advantage of, and honing in on a natural process that is already in place during labor: deep focused relaxation. There are no risks associated with that!
In order for hypnosis to be truly effective in labor, the choice of one’s words matters quite a bit. We will cover that in our next installment on hypnosis for birth.