So what is it that has caused the increasing interest in this field, and what is the problem that mothers are looking to solve by turning to hypnotherapy?
Childbirth is certainly a very different experience to what it was for our grandmothers and he women who came before them. For a start it is safer on the whole, with greater information, medical practice, and the possibility of life-saving interventions if required on the occasions that something goes wrong.
However our approach to it has also changed a great deal. Now that so many of us have careers, it often appears to be seen as a short break in our progress towards financial equality, recognition, and career success, that is the main goal of all who want to truly contribute towards society. Could it actually be that you will never in your life do anything as important or fulfilling as creating and nurturing another human being?
We are also pre-conditioned to see birth as a painful experience. Just think of every televised birth you ever saw, and the use of the word “Labour“ for the child birth process sums up attitudes quite well. At the same time because births are mainly attended by medics rather than family members (mothers sisters and aunts in days gone by), each of us is likely to have little or no direct experience of birth when we come to experiencing our own.
Many mothers approach the process of “labour” in a state of near terror, not made any easier by the scare stories of friends, precautionary warnings of some doctors (“If you don’t do exactly what I tell you then your baby….” etc.), and what they have seen in films and on TV. And how is this great fear likely to affect their experience of birth?
They will be tense. Tension causes muscle cramps. Muscle cramps in the birth canal mean hard work for baby, and for mum. Fear of the process increases the likelihood of accepting medial pain coping measures. Medical interventions increase the likelihood of further medical interventions. Some medical interventions may adversely affect the baby itself. A great shame if they could have been avoided in the first place. Note that we must draw a distinction here between necessary interventions and unnecessary ones, which is often a difficult line to draw in the heat of the moment.
So back to hypnotherapy for childbirth – the case is reasonably clear. If you are able to be very relaxed, rally relax those all important muscles to let baby go the way it wants to go, and experience the birth in shall we say a more positive frame of mind and body, then it is quite clear that the whole process could be much easier, and potentially more comfortable.
It is interesting to note that every mammal goes to give birth in a quiet place of its choosing. Human mothers of old coped in the main very well with giving birth on their own, and it appears they learned the art (the womanly arts!) from older family members, and the success of our race is clear enough evidence of the success of the process.
The point is that your body knows what to do. It has finely evolved since the dawn of time to be perfectly adapted to giving birth to a baby, perhaps even a dozen in a life time, and childbirth is a core part of the experience of living. Not as it would appear a temporary inconvenience blotting the development of a career path.
Direct experiences from Hypnobirthing mothers and others experiencing natural child birth shows us that childbirth can actually be one of the best days of your life! (read that again?). Hypnotherapy for birth is just one technique that may help this to come about – and I for one hope that if you are a woman, and if you are pregnant, or if you know one, you will at least consider this as an option which may enhance your own experience of childbirth, and give a better start in life to your baby.
Anna Barrington writes for The Hypnobirthing Centre. For more information about this please visit The Hypnobirthing Centre.
Katharine Graves teaches Hypnobirthing in London UK – a system of hypnotherapy for birth promoting relaxation and comfort for women during childbirth