Hypnobirthing: What is hypnosis for childbirth?
Hypnosis, by definition, is relaxation combined with verbal suggestions. Usually, for childbirth, we achieve this using a visualisation script or audio tracks. Personally, however after spending thousands of hours in the labour room, I am not a big believer in hypnosis as a singular technique for birth, because it is never enough to get through the many complexities of labour.
I also think it is incredibly important to empower women throughout their pregnancy with the skills to hypnotise themselves, rather than be dependent on particular circumstances or factors. Let me explain.
By allowing women to connect with a deeper state of relaxation throughout pregnancy and guiding them to find their own way back to this state using different modalities and tools they will have much greater agency and strategies to use during labour.
Self-hypnosis is the art of guiding yourself back to a relaxed state, perhaps with the assistance of your partner or recorded visualisations. But important to remember, this is only one way.
She Births® teaches self-hypnosis through the utilisation of various ‘anchors’ that mums are encouraged to explore and experiment with during pregnancy. An anchor is a technique often used in NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) that allows you to create an association with a desired experience or feeling state.
In doing any visualisation you are creating a visual anchor. For example, the memory of your favourite place in nature or the visual of a lotus pond (as utilised in the She Births® – Lotus Flower Visualisation). You are also creating an auditory anchor by the sound of the narrator’s voice, or your partners if they read you a script. Which is similar to the way your baby will be calmed by the sound of your voices, or particular songs that you play them while they are in utero.
It becomes even more powerful however if you have numerous personal anchoring strategies to utilise via other senses, such as physical gestures or mental affirmations, connection with your partner’s hand on your shoulder. All of which could be used, at just the right time, to bring you back into the state of calm you need during labour.
How to create your physical anchor
At the end of each visualisation when you feel relaxed and calm and in the She Births® scripts for example it says, ‘Know that you can bring yourself back to this state at any time you choose’’ You can gently touch your index finger and thumb together (on whichever hand you prefer) and feel the connection between the finger and thumb, as well as the state of relaxation throughout your whole body.
How to create your mental anchor
Similarly, when you are feeling completely relaxed in a bath, at the end of a yoga class or lying in bed, just as you wake up or just as you go to sleep simply speak the words that feel right for you as an affirmation.
Allow your intuition to ‘give’ the words to you. They usually begin with I am …. Once you have a word, or perhaps two words, do not speak them to other people, just hold them for yourself and your baby and avoid changing them. Repeat them every time you are relaxed eg. I am calm and confident, I relax and trust birth.
Utilising your personal anchors
Any time during pregnancy or labour, if you notice that you’ve lost your focus or could relax even more, you can gently connect your calm state by simply using your physical, visual or mental anchors.
How partners can support mums via anchors
Partners or support people can practise a gentle hand pressure on the shoulder for mums or even count mums into relaxation by counting backwards from five to one. They can also describe Mum’s favourite place in nature to her quietly in between contractions.
Many couples also keep the visualisations playing throughout their whole labour, which has the added benefit of relaxing everyone in the room. She Births® uses numerous visualisations across pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Within the course, you can learn even more about how to utilise hypnosis and all the other tools for a better and more enjoyable birth.