“HypnoBirthing sounds too weird…” I’m confronted with this issue on a regular basis. If they don’t say it out loud, I see it on their faces. Although it seems like there is definitely an upward trend when it comes to interest in HypnoBirthing, the concept is still relatively new in South Africa. But as a normal, non-hippie, rational, educated, Christian, Afrikaans-speaking, Pretoria-based mother of two, I can promise you: HypnoBirthing is not weird.
Hypnosis Is Foreign
Hypnotherapy has long been proven to have amazing benefits in the treatment of a tremendous range of issues. Still, the image that comes to mind when ‘hypnosis’ is mentioned, is of an eccentric male performer type, putting individuals in some sort of trance where he has control over their minds, actions, and inevitably, their dignity.
When I mention in conversation that I am a HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator, I can usually see the micro-expressions of doubt and hesitance flash over the other person’s face. The concept is foreign. The connotation creates a sense of unease. Some wonder if it clashes with their religion. Others imagine images of mothers in labour, while a hippie lady swings a trance inducing necklace before her eyes.
Hypnosis Is Misunderstood
The truth is that hypnosis is extremely misunderstood. Here is the short of it:
Our brains cycle through four main identifiable ranges of brainwave frequencies throughout the day and night, on its own. Cycling through these ranges is a normal function of the brain, and it moves through these unique states of consciousness seamlessly, unnoticed, as and when necessary.
Your Brain Waves And What They’re For
As described in this article, the four ranges important to us here are as follows:
- Beta brain waves are associated with normal waking consciousness, and a heightened state of alertness, logic, and critical reasoning.
- Example: You, in the boardroom, taking part in the planning of a business proposal.
- Alpha brain waves are present in deep relaxation, and usually emerge when you’re daydreaming, or during light meditation.
- In this range, you’ll experience heightened abilities in terms of imagination, visualisation, memory, learning, and concentration.
- Example: You, immersed in the reading of a brilliant book, or very focused while studying for an upcoming exam.
- Theta brain waves are present during deep meditation and light sleep. This is the range you’re in during the all-important REM dream state.
- It is the realm of your sub-conscious, only experienced momentarily as you drift off to sleep from Alpha, and wake from deep sleep (from Delta).
- At this frequency, you are conscious of your surroundings while your body is in deep relaxation. Your inner voice is also quiet when you are in this range – so no running commentary from your inner critic.
- Your mind’s most deep-seated programs are at Theta. This is where your belief system lies. The almighty sub-conscious.
- Everything you’ve ever heard, seen, and felt with regards to any subject (including childbirth), has been packaged and filed here, in your sub-conscious mind. As such, it forms your beliefs about, and attitudes towards any and every subject under the sun.
- This is also where your fears reside. You might be aware of some of your fears, but others will only become apparent to your conscious mind if you ever find yourself in a situation where the fear is relevant.
- The Delta frequency is the slowest of the brainwave frequencies. Delta waves occur in deep, dreamless sleep, and is crucial for deep healing and regeneration.
- Example: You, when you are fast and deeply asleep.
What Is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy can be described as specific relaxation techniques (guided or self induced) and focused attention, that help you to deliberately change your brain wave frequency. With the correct guidance or skills, the range where inaccurate information and irrational fears can be replaced with truths and logical narratives is achieved, with the purpose of supporting your personal goals. The Alpha and Theta ranges are ideal for this.
Using This Knowledge To Achieve Comfortable, Positive Birth
Once you know what the effect of fear or stress is on mother and baby during labour and birth, you’ll understand why you need to ensure that you have no underlying fears of childbirth.
(In short, fear and stress trip up your birth hormones, and triggers your fight and flight mode’s stress hormones instead. This leads to a cascade of internal imbalance, which inevitably leads to pain, traumatic birth experiences, and in many cases distress and emergency intervention. It’s important, so read more about it here.)
So How Can You You Have A Gentle Natural Birth?
You get rid of the fear.
To do that, you get rid of the inaccurate, scary pictures and beliefs you have of what childbirth looks (and feels) like.
To do that, you learn and practice various relaxation techniques that help you access your sub-conscious. Once your brain waves are in the correct, normal, natural range that we know is conducive for learning and change (Alpha and Theta), you (choose to) accept new, evidence based information that will serve you and support your goals.
Please note, that no-one can introduce new information to you successfully if it clashes with your core belief system. Every single suggestion, positive affirmation, and new piece of information, has to be consciously accepted by you.
HypnoBirthing is not weird. It is not mind control. This is not brainwashing. It’s science. It’s actively taking charge of your birth story. It’s deciding that you will not allow the childbirth scenes Hollywood placed in your mind, to dictate what your baby’s birth is going to be like. It is choosing to, perhaps for the first time, become an active decision maker when it comes to what you believe about childbirth.
The HypnoBirthing Programme
In the HypnoBirthing programme, you’ll be given the physiological facts, the science, the psychology, the techniques, and everything you need to make informed, safe decisions for you and your baby. You will get to know birth as a normal physiological process, strongly influenced by your psychological state.
And then, suddenly, the ‘hypnosis’ part of HypnoBirthing will make sense. When you GET it, you’ll want to shout it from the rooftops – HypnoBirthing is not weird! You’ll want to shake every expecting mom by the shoulders, and tell her that she can not possibly go into labour and birth without this crucial preparation.
Why Is Hypnosis Necessary For Modern Natural Childbirth
There was a time, long ago, where women supported each other in birth. They had a collective wisdom of the process, and shared positive stories to encourage their friends, sisters, and daughters that they were all perfectly capable of natural birth.
That time has gone. Women are scared of birth. They hear of one woman after the other, whose attempt at natural birth ended in a traumatic labour, a distressed baby, and an emergency C-section. (Even in the safe hospital environments, and even with the knowledgeable birth experts at their sides!) More and more women are opting for C-sections right off the bat, because natural birth, as we know it, has just become too daunting. (Please read my disclaimer if you are at all offended right now).
There is a massive, collective loss of trust in birth as a natural, gentle, relatively comfortable, achievable, non-medical event. And because of this we need to deprogramme the negative beliefs that, if left unchecked, will be the very cause of our own fears coming true.
Fearless Birth Restores Faith In Birth
HypnoBirthing is not weird. It is a programme built on the science, physiology, and psychology of birth. It brings women back to a point where they understand WHY they can trust their bodies, and empowers them to do just that. It then uses simple relaxation exercises, to help mothers prepare for a calm, relaxed birth.
And you know what happens then?
Mothers have gentle, relaxed, empowered, positive birth experiences. And they start believing in birth again. They start believing in and celebrating their bodies’ awesome capabilities, and the collective wisdom of childbirth amongst women once again begins to grow.