Childbirth Hypnosis: A Safer, Healthier Alternative To Epidurals
Jeremy Dyen is a musician, father and husband who blogs at Stay at Home Papa. He and his wife Madhavi are advocates of hypnosis and affirmations for mindset shifts about birth. They blog at DyenFamily.com.
Epidurals are today the most common method of coping with pain during childbirth. About 75% of birthing women use an epidural during labor, and many women have good experiences using them. They help deal with the physical pain, but additionally give psychological assurance in an experience that many women experience feeling “out of control” or “scary.”
However, epidurals are not without risks. They are often the beginning of a cascade of medical interventions that would otherwise be avoidable. Both epidurals and an over-medicalized birth present risks to both mother and baby.
Some facts to consider:
- Epidurals often contain an opiate such as morphine or fentanyl.
- These drugs enter the mother’s bloodstream and therefore can enter the placenta and the baby’s circulation.
- One side effect of epidurals is a drop in the birthing mother’s blood pressure which can lead to a decrease of oxygen to the baby. It is this type of oxygen depletion that often leads to otherwise avoidable Cesarean Sections.
- Because epidurals often render the birthing mother numb from the waist down, she is confined to a bed and unable to find optimal birthing positions.
In general, hypnosis is safe, natural and effective. It is safe because it is non-invasive. It is natural because we all experience hypnotic states daily, for example when “spacing out” doing chores or walking. It has been clinically shown to be effective for a wide range of behavior changes, emotional disorders and pain management.
Studies show that hypnosis for childbirth reduces labor time (Jenkins and Pritchard), decreases the need for pain medication (Harmon, Hynan and Tyre) and even reduces the occurence of postpartum depression (McCarthy).
Why does birth hypnosis work when used regularly during pregnancy? Hypnosis uses deep states of relaxation to directly influence the subconscious mind. When in a trance state, your subconscious mind is very receptive to suggestions. It is in these deep states of hypnosis that suggestions for a pain-free, fear-free, easy and fast birth are like seeds planted in the mind.
The keys to hypnobirthing, like any hypnosis program, are belief and repetition. Hypnosis is most effective when the “subject” is willing and open-minded–when she believes that hypnosis will work to reduce fear and pain. As in any practice, repetition, rather than “cramming”, will bring more success. It is better to practice even 15 minutes every day in the last few months of pregnancy, rather than doing a handful of hour long sessions in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Home Programs Make Hypnosis Affordable
The great thing is that hypnosis recordings for birthing are quite easy and relaxing to use, and they are very affordable. Prices range anywhere from $50 to $150, including such programs as Hypnobabies, The Birth Relaxation Kit, Hypnobirthing, Ultimate Birth Hypnosis Program and more.
Safe Mom and Safe Baby Is Still The Ultimate Goal
Ultimately, the most important thing in any birth is a safe and healthy birth for both mother and baby. Birth hypnosis does not guarantee a pain free birth. Nothing does. It is a tool. While it has its benefits, it is not a cure-all.
While hypnosis helps women rid themselves of fears and to empower women–in a sense, to take birth back from the medical establishment, hypnosis can be used in conjunction with hospital births and even along with medical intervention.
The point is, although a natural birth is optimal for most women, and hypnosis is a tool to help achieve a more comfortable natural birth, there is no reason to feel like a failure if you find pain medicine or medical interventions necessary. Just understand your options.