With the lights dimly lit and soothing music softly playing in the background, the room where Elizabeth Jones Kramer is preparing to give birth to her first child in seems like it belongs at a spa instead of the labor and delivery wing of a hospital.
Gina Roberts-Grey

After completing a 10 hour class, Kramer is ready to give birth in a quiet and calm setting, free of the fear of extreme pain. Relying on the techniques learned in the course on hypnosis, Elizabeth and her husband Ben will be welcoming their child into the world using a pain and stress management strategy that has helped thousands of women experience a natural childbirth.

Every expectant mother knows someone who proudly boasts, "I had a wonderfully quick delivery," or "I never had any pain medication during my delivery." Although these well meaning recounts as usually meant to be inspiring and comforting, they often leave expectant mothers wondering what physical experiences they'll encounter in the delivery room.

Wanting or considering an epidural also creates a certain amount of guilt for many moms-to-be. "Many women feel pressured to have a completely natural childbirth because their friends, mother of sister did. They feel medical intervention makes them weak or cheated during the birthing experience," notes Registered Labor and Delivery Nurse, Patty Simpkins of Pengilly, Minnesota.

Exploring the technique that Kramer and countless other women have relied on for decades can help you overcome your fears and offer a drug-free delivery.

Going back to the basics
Giving birth is a beautiful and natural part of life and thanks to the wonder of Mother Nature, a woman's body is designed to give birth. Despite the natural ability given to women, fearing extreme pain, complications and confusion, moms-to-be often approach their impending child birth experience with a great deal of subconscious tension.

An experienced Childbirth Educator, Melissa Creighton, CCE, CD, (DONA) of White Plains, New York explains "the most important thing a woman preparing for childbirth needs to have is the confidence that her body was made to give birth. Birth is a normal, natural, physiological process; not necessarily a medical event."

Child birth educators and hypnotists believe that knowing your body is well equipped to give birth, and remembering to let your body do the work are key to a relaxed, natural delivery. As a member of the Hudson Valley Birth Network, Susan Berry, B.S. M.Ht. of Mt. Kisco, New York has helped hundreds of women learn the technique of HypnoBirthing.

"HypnoBirthing is a trademarked name for using hypnosis and relaxation during labor and delivery," explains Barry, "Hypnosis helps a woman and her birth companion remove stereotypes such as anger, drama, and comedy that are associated with labor and delivery and commonly portrayed on television. It teaches you to work with your body and know what it is doing during the entire delivery process."

How it works
Hypnosis does not reduce or interfere with a woman's ability to understand what is going on during her labor and delivery, or allow her to do anything she is not completely comfortable with. "It breaks the fear, tension, and pain loop,' explains Barry.

An alternative to drugs, hypnosis enhances natural childbirth. With techniques for stalled labor and using guided imagery and visualization, moms-to-be like Kramer rely on hypnosis to help their labor progress naturally and their body to work at it's optimum ability.

Expectant women use hypnosis to enhance what their body instinctively knows how to do. "It releases the body's natural endorphins without special breathing techniques or medications," Barry adds.

"I learned that my birth companion plays significant role in the delivery," says Kramer. Because of his job, Kramer wasn't certain her husband would be present at the birth. "I choose my sister as my birthing companion. It's a great choice because she's had two children and will understand what I'm going through. My husband will also be able to take everything in without worrying about keeping me calm or seeing me in a great deal of discomfort," she adds.

Using hypnosis during delivery, the mother, baby and birth companion all work together. "You're a team that has come together in a calm, relaxed state of mind. You each know the natural process and that relaxed atmosphere helps the delivery progress smoothly," encourages Barry.

Weighing the pros and cons
Some advantages to using hypnosis are less postpartum fatigue and a quick recovery after giving birth. "I've had mothers up and showering two hours after delivering," says Barry.

Hyperventilating is often part of childbirth. Because of the mother's stress-free state of mind, there is no panic triggered by hyperventilating. HypnoBirthing moms usually do not have their hands clenched tightly around the guard rails of the bed as their bringing their child into the world. Their muscles are not exhausted and they feel more refreshed during the delivery. "It lets you 'get out of your own way' while remaining in complete control of the situation," adds Creighton.

Because women are always in control of situation, incorporating hypnosis is thought to be risk free. Hypnosis has been credited with helping turn breech babies and the health and well being of mother and child are always the first priority. Hypnosis assisted labors also tend to be a lot shorter due to the relaxed atmosphere in the room.

Going back to school
In addition to hypnosis, there are many different kinds of childbirth education classes that expectant parents can explore. "Some classes focus on a specific method of coping with the intensity of childbirth, or have a strong philosophical stance and others provide women with the full range of the different options available, including a variety of pain coping techniques," notes Creighton.

Some group childbirth preparation classes have 8 to 10 couples, and meet for a few as five or as many as ten sessions. Most expectant mothers start attending classes during the end of the 2nd trimester or beginning of the 3rd trimester. Class topics include the labor process as well as pregnancy nutrition, exercise, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the onset of labor, and the benefits and risks of common medical interventions.

Some classes also cover breastfeeding and newborn care while others include the intense emotional, spiritual and psychological aspects of pregnancy, birth and the postpartum adjustment period. Often expectant moms and their partners are encouraged to explore different pain coping techniques and have the opportunity to see many different tools such as birth balls, massage tools, etc. in the classroom setting.

For additional information, please contact:

The HypnoBirthing Institute - PO Box 810 Epsom NH 03234 (603) 798-3286 distribution@hypnobirthing.com

Additional resources:

HypnoBirthing: The Breakthrough Natural Approach to Safer, Easier, More Comfortable Birthing - The Mongan Method 3rd Edition (Paperback) by Marie Mongan

Hypnosis for a Joyful Pregnancy and Pain-Free Labor and Delivery (Paperback) by Nancy BarwickPregnancyAndBaby.com

Tags: hypnosis

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