How Hypnosis Can Help During Pregnancy
For some people, hypnotherapy offers a way to harness the power of their mind over pregnancy pain.
WHAT HYPNOSIS IS
A state of mind when your conscious (rational) mind takes a backseat and your subconscious (feelings, memories, emotions) mind drives the car for a while. Generally, hypnosis involves music, soothing images, and guided visualization. Once the analytical part of your mind relaxes, you become more receptive to positive suggestions and affirmations.
WHAT IT DOES
Natal hypnotherapy (the fancy name for this fairly simple technique) uses deep relaxation and the power of suggestion to tap into the part of your mind that’s responsible for bodily functions (your heart rate, hormone production, and digestive system, as well as your emotions) and help you cope with the fear and anxiety that’s often part of the pregnancy package. Many women use hypnosis to ease the pain of childbirth, but hypnosis can also be effective in helping to hold off premature labor, ease stress, or turn a breech baby.
When it comes to using hypnosis during labor, the theory is this: If you’re scared, your body will respond accordingly, producing adrenaline, a hormone that makes your tense muscles more tense. That means your uterus has to work harder to contract and relax. With effective hypnosis, your breathing is more even, which means more oxygen reaches you and your baby. Increased oxygen stimulates the production of oxytocin (the hormone that controls contractions) and endorphins (the good-mood natural chemicals that runners talk about). The ultimate goal is contractions that are more effective and less painful.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HYPNOSIS DURING PREGNANCY
If you’re considering hypnosis, be skeptical of any techniques that promise to make you feel no pain whatsoever during active labor. You’ll be pretty disappointed, which may only heighten your anxiety. And, as with any alternative therapy, be sure to discuss your hypnosis plans in advance with your practitioner so the two of you are on the same page once you’re in labor. Keep in mind that hypnosis is not a last-minute option; you’ve got to learn (and practice) hypnosis techniques in advance of labor for it to be effective.