Get out your swinging time pieces and spinning spirals my friends it is hypno time!!! I am joking of course, but lets face it when you hear the word hypnosis the image of people clucking like chickens pops to mind. Luckily thanks to my good friend Gareth Vaughan (aka hypnotherapist extraordinaire) I have had a different perception of hypnosis for quite sometime, so when hypnobirthing was recommended to me I was intrigued.
What the buggery is hypnosis from a therapy stand point?? Well I am no expert (and I am a poor liar so I won’t pretend to be an expert) but this is the idea from my own perspective. Hypnotherapy teaches you about your brain/mind and how it functions. It explains how our realities are formed through experiences and how our brain filters those experiences. It makes you aware of preconceived beliefs that are affecting the way you experience life. It gives you tools to alter these beliefs, shifting the way you perceive and experience situations.
The actual state of hypnosis is when you are relaxed and downloading information. It is a state where you are susceptible to suggestion. Suggestion that you will cluck like a chicken, or that you can achieve a challenging task, or that you have no reliance on cigarettes, or that child birth is a natural process that your body was perfectly designed for. We get into hypnotic states everyday. When you are drifting off to sleep, engrossed in a television program, driving a familiar route or meditating. For something that sounds quite out there hypnosis is really just part of life.
Okay great… so what does all this mind shifting have to do with birth? Well lets be honest ladies who looks forward to their first birth and thinks “hell yeah that is going to be awesome, bring it on!”? Personally I grew up with the distinct notion that birth would be extremely painful and traumatic. I recall using it as ammo when in arguments with the male of our species, “well women give birth so what are YOU complaining about?” There is a WHOLE BUNCH of fear surrounding birth, and well yah it is a massive task for your body to go through and things can go wrong, but is all the fear helping?
Animals (and humans are animals if anyone has forgotten) have several survival mechanisms and many mothers to be when faced with a threat will stall labor. Think in cave man terms, to survive we use fight or flight and when we are scared our bodies do a whole heap of really cool things that facilitate these two options. One result being blood and oxygen floods to our limbs, we are able to flee with lightening speed or pull amazing ninja moves, but give birth….ahhhh not so much. If you are in fight of flight mode your body puts the birthing experience on the back burner. Really what is the point in pumping blood around the all important baby pushing muscle (the uterus) if you are about to be eaten by a raptor??
The hypnobirthing philosophy follows this idea and aims to create an informed birthing experience where the mother feels safe and relaxed. This environment allows our body the best chance to function as nature intended and have a birth with little complication. Hypnobirthing uses breathing techniques, relaxations, visualisations and positive affirmations to keep your body and mind chilled out. It also gives the mumma’s birth companion a stack of great tools to help support, relax and encourage.
My partner in crime and I completed a course with the lovely Anthea Thomas of Hypnobirthing Gold Coast. As a young family we tossed up whether we could afford the course but looking back are so grateful we included it in our preparation. It was more then just hypnosis, it was an antenatal class with a twist…and a positive one at that. I felt 100% more confident that I could achieve the natural birth we wanted after finishing the course. As a bonus (possibly even the most important outcome) I also had a partner who had been given real down to earth tools that would help me through labor and actually include him in Boston’s birth.
The understanding that birth is significantly affected by fear and the affect it has on us physiologically was a big UH HUH moment for me, but it is only a small part of what a hypnobirthing course will give you. If you would like to know more check out Hypnobirthing Gold Coast website or facebook page.
p.s I want to be clear that I do not believe that any one thing, or even a combination of things, will guarantee an easy or complication free birth. It is a huge challenge physically and mentally. Things can and do go wrong without cause or blame. Talking to women of a traditional village in the pacific (no running water, no electricity and in wet season no access to a doctor) the challenge is as clear as ever. Their number one health concern, how do we help mothers and babies in birth? So….I believe every helpful tool you can pack in your belt, go for it! Most importantly do what works for YOU.