Wednesday 7 November 2012

Using Hypnotherapy for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond

Birth is one of the most amazing, life changing things we will probably ever experience as a woman. The journey from conception to birthing your baby is a long and sometimes complicated one, but it is my belief that it shouldn't be a fearful one. Don’t get me wrong, the thought of birthing may cause us to feel some trepidation, that’s normal; but fear, that’s something much stronger.

We are primal beings and have what is called the “fight or flight” mechanism built into our body’s system. It serves us well when we need to run from danger but it isn't a positive addition to birthing your baby. If we fear birth our bodies respond by releasing adrenaline preparing us for “fight or flight”. Our bodies then believe there is danger and will not allow the body to relax which is vital to giving birth. If your muscles are contracting in fear they’re not going to easily birth your baby now are they?

We have sadly become very medicalised when it comes to birthing our babies in recent years and I believe this to be a worry. Intervention is far more common when birthing in modern times. If we’re not careful we will surely lose the ability to birth our babies as we were designed to; naturally, confidently, positively, and trusting our bodies and ourselves in this amazing process. We also need to make sure that the midwives and birthing companions who accompany us along our journey are not losing the ability/skills to help us birth in this way. For example, many midwives are no longer trained in breach birth yet in my mother’s day this was common practice. How far we have come; but in the right direction? I fear not.

So, what can we do to help ourselves birth peacefully, confidently, with a feeling of being in control, empowered, strong.

Well, one thing I looked into when out in France was hypnotherapy in birth. In my work as a holistic therapist I know the importance of the mind over the body. It’s more powerful than we give it credit for. Visualisation and breath are important tools, especially in birth. Even when we aren't able to have the birth we planned, knowing you have other tools to fall back on which still allow you to feel in control, are key to having a positive birth.

As I wasn't able to attend a course in hypnobirthing whilst in France. I looked into other options and found "Natal Hypnotherapy” designed by Maggie Howell. As described on their website: “Maggie Howell - a British Hypnotherapist and mother to 5 sons, has created the Natal Hypnotherapy range of CDs and book to enhance your pregnancy and birth experience, by using your natural skills and inner resources. The CDs use a combination of self hypnosis techniques, deep relaxation and guided visualization to help you overcome fears, create a state of calm and relaxation, maintain your health, increase bonding with your baby and maximise your bodies potential."

The CDs come in a range of choices dependent on where you intend to birth your baby; home birth, birth centre, hospital. I knew that I wouldn't be able to have Sophia at home so I opted for the CD programme for a birth in hospital. There were 4 CDs; a relaxation CD for anytime during your pregnancy, a CD from 32 weeks onwards which is a birth preparation CD which looks at breath as well as relaxation, a CD for when you are in labour with relaxation music. This music has been used in the other CDs so your mind and body are attuned to associating it with a relaxed state of being, and finally a CD for after the birth, which is listened to from a week before the birth for as long as needed afterwards, inspiring confidence in your new role as a Mum.

Despite the fact that I had a difficult birth with Sophia, - a story for another blog I feel ;0) - I really found these CDs helped me to prepare myself mentally, inspired confidence and kept me as relaxed as possible at uncertain times during her birth. I managed to birth her without pain relief and was able to create a bubble that I could escape to when needed.

Maggie Howell also offers courses in the UK in addition to her Natal Hypnotherapy CD programmes and book. The CDs really do come personally recommended, especially if you are unable to attend a course. It’s the next best thing.

When birthing Jess though, I was lucky enough to be living in the UK again, and looked into a Hypnobirthing course (The Mongan Method), which also uses hypnotherapy but is quite different in it’s approach. I will reveal more in my next post. But for now, if you are interested in looking at how hypnotherapy can help you towards a more positive, confident and relaxed birth then do take a look at Natal Hypnotherapy by Maggie Howell. 

Until next time ....


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