is a time for excitement, celebration, joy and – pain! Did you know
that 61% of moms-to-be opt for an epidural during delivery?
For most of their lives women have been inundated with negative
stories of other women’s birth experiences. They have been conditioned
to believe that excruciating pain is associated with labour, and because
of this, women today have an unprecedented fear of giving birth. But,
it doesn’t have to be this way.
There’s been a big surge in interest in hypnobirthing over the last
couple of years – This could be due to the fact that celebrities such as
Kate Middleton, Jessica Alba, and Pink, all used hypnosis in their
Although relatively new in South Africa, this increasingly popular
mind-body technique among parents seeking a natural birthing experience
with less pain, are used by thousands of women in the UK and the USA.
The British Medical Association approved hypnotherapy as a valid
medical treatment and effective form of pain management during
childbirth in 1955. The American Medical Association approved
hypnotherapy in 1958. Hypnosis is so widely accepted in America among
physicians, psychologists and dentists, that it is considered
What is hypnobirthing?
Nature intended for women to give birth relatively easily, but Western
culture teaches us that childbirth is an agonising experience to be
Fear during labour activates our primal “fight or flight” mechanism,
causing stress hormones to slow down digestion, make the heart speed up,
force blood to the arms and the legs, and ultimately deplete blood flow
to the uterus, creating uterine pain and hindering the labour process.
Extreme fear causes the body to become tense, and that tension prohibits
the body from performing a normal physiological function. The result is
exactly what moms-to-be fear the most – long painful birthing or
Hypnobirthing is based on the belief that childbirth doesn’t have to be a painful, scary ordeal to be endured.
It’s really all about the natural birth process. Hypnobirthing involves
teaching the technique of self-hypnosis. Through self-hypnosis you will
move into a deeply relaxed state. By replacing fear with relaxation, a
different set of chemicals come into play. Whilst breathing deeply and
rhythmically, the flow of oxygen to the blood is increased.
This will help to keep you and your baby calm and will stimulate the
production of oxytocin – the hormone responsible for contractions.
Hypnosis will also make use of the body’s own chemicals – endorphins –
to block pain.
So, by using hypnosis, you will be able to tap into the brain to
release the natural “pain killers” as needed! When the mom-to-be is free
from fear, her body functions more efficiently.
Does this mean that you will start clucking like a chicken after a
sinister man swinging a pocket watch told you to feel sleepy? Not at
all. You are fully awake and in control during the experience. This is
“focused relaxing” where the subconscious mind is open to suggestion.
This technique teaches you how to release all prior programming about
birth and how to trust your body and work with it. It allows you to let
go of fear and other negative emotions. Your body is free to tap into
its own natural instincts and to function as it is designed to do in
What are the pros of hypnobirthing?
• Reduces pain and the length of labour.
• Reduces the need for medical intervention.
• Increases your chances of a faster recovery.
• Makes babies calmer at birth.
• Fewer cases of post-natal depression.
• Babies are more alert and have a higher Apgar score.
• Highly beneficial for relaxing moms during C-sections as well.
What are the cons?
• It takes practise, preparation and dedication.
• Birth is unpredictable; you may not get to use the technique as planned.
A course in hypnobirthing consists of regular sessions that can
either be held in a group, or privately. You will be provided with a
booklet, CD’s and course materials. Dr. Douglas Dumbrill, a gynaecologist
at the Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town, supports any technique
that makes labour manageable. Dumbrill confirms that many moms who engage
in hypnobirthing are generally very happy with the result.
Science shows that mind over matter can work when it comes to easing
labour pains. As an expecting mom you have many decisions to make for
your birthing experience. Have you made your choice yet?