For many expectant mothers, the thought of giving birth without any pain and without any drugs may sound too good to be true. Yet, there was a time before modern medicine when the pain of childbirth was not a major worry. People worried about complications more than they thought about the mother’s discomfort. Risks to the baby and even the mother’s survival far outweighed the thought of childbirth pain.
Today, complications in childbirth are rare. Prenatal screening tests mean that many complications are identified and addressed before a mother arrives to give birth. These days, the biggest fear for most expectant mothers is the fear of the pain they will endure during childbirth. While some may choose an intervention to ease discomfort along the way, most expectant mothers want to understand their options for comfortable, natural and safe childbirth. Those that explore the options often find that hypnosis and self-hypnosis can dramatically change the birth experience.
“We work with expectant moms to practice deep relaxation,” says Beverly Craddock, master hypnotist and co-owner of Hawaii Hypnosis Center. “Relaxation during childbirth works with your body’s natural contraction process that is responsible for much of the discomfort during the birthing process.” Craddock, a mother of two, says hypnosis also helps expectant moms overcome the internal fears linked to the birth experience.
“The anticipation of pain intensifies what is experienced,” explains Craddock. “If you’ve been led to believe that you’re going to experience some excruciating pain, then your mind is likely more tuned into the feelings associated with the process. The reality is that childbirth can be a peaceful experience—but you’ve got to clear out all the myths and misconceptions.”
Working with a trained hypnotist helps an expectant mother learn to relax deeply, and to anticipate and work with the pressure during contractions. It also helps the mother focus on positive imagery during the birthing process, which produces natural endorphins, making the baby feel more at peace.
“More and more moms-to-be want to take an active role in their baby’s birth and be empowered by learning the techniques to be more in control of their body,” says Craddock. “They look forward to having some level of control over the birthing process and feel as though they have accomplished something great by bringing their child into the world in that way.”
Hypnosis has long been used in clinical settings to reduce pain for all kinds of medical and dental procedures. A number of people have even undergone surgeries without the need for anesthesia merely by entering a hypnotic state.
“We take a pragmatic approach to the issue of hypnosis in childbirth,” explains Craddock. “We believe that the mother can use the incredible power of her own mind to have a much more controlled and comfortable birthing experience, but at the same time, she can feel good if she opts for some [pain] relief during the process. Natural childbirth is incredibly empowering, but there’s also nothing wrong with being human—especially during something so amazing as bringing a baby into the world.”
Most women have heard countless stories of childbirth pain, and in many ways, this pain has become a cultural badge of honor. The problem is these stories often create added stress for expectant mothers, whose fear of pain creates hesitation and resistance, which in turn amplifies the discomfort of the birthing process.
“Relaxing the mind and working with the contractions is the key to the process,” says Craddock. Self-hypnosis through childbirth is also beneficial for expectant parents that encounter challenges during the birth. Mothers able to stay calm can better handle things if a last-minute C-section or difficult labor situation presents itself.
Hawaii Hypnosis Center also offers sessions for expectant fathers so they can understand hypnosis and be a more active part of the experience. Dads-to-be are also able to address any underlying fears or anxiety that come with the birth of a child.