The vaginal childbirth method, Hypnobirthing, is based on the work of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, a British physician often called the father of natural childbirth.
Hypnobirthing is the use of self-hypnosis to achieve complete relaxation, comfort, and relief during vaginal childbirth. It's important to note that hypnosis is synonymous with deep relaxation, similar to daydreaming, the twilight phase of sleep as you are drifting off, or the feeling of being absorbed in a book/movie. Women who've used this technique report feeling relaxed, calm, aware, and in control.
Dr. Grantly Dick-Read wrote of his experiences as an obstetrician, specifically when he was called to a delivery in the middle of a rainy night. He arrived at the house to find the laboring woman alone in a rickety shack, the rain from the leaky roof dripping on her as she lay on the makeshift bed. He assisted her throughout her delivery, awed that she never cried out in pain nor requested medications. After the birth, he then asked her if she needed anything for the pain. She simply gazed at him and inquired, "Was it supposed to hurt?"
This question changed his life and ultimately, the way he practiced medicine. He went on to author Childbirth without Fear in 1944, where he detailed these experiences and his revelations on childbirth, specifically the Fear-Tension-Pain syndrome which he theorized causes pain in vaginal childbirth by diverting necessary blood flow from the uterus and by inhibiting the body from effectively using contractions to guide the baby down and out the birth path.
He theorized that using deep relaxation such as in hypnosis, this "Fear-Tension-Pain" cycle could be broken, thus enabling women to give birth naturally without pain.
His work developed into Hypnobirthing, which was founded by Marie F. Mongan, affectionately known as "Mickey". Her book, Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method, is a concise, engaging read. A main advantage of this program is that physical classes are not required. The materials can be ordered as a self-study program only. This becomes especially advantageous and a viable alternative if a certified instructor is not available in your area.
Hypnobirthing uses relaxation scripts, positive affirmations, visualization and mental imagery to teach a woman to relax her mind and body, guide her thoughts, and control her breathing. This can be self-directed or with the support of a birth companion, instructor, or hypnotherapist.
One potential drawback of the program is its name. "Hypnosis" as a term carries widespread misconception. It conjures automatic associations of people being made to perform tricks or embarrassing themselves on stage which can be a barrier to the widespread acceptance of self-hypnosis as a method of natural vaginal childbirth preparation.
For more information or to locate a practitioner in your area, contact the Hypnobirthing Institute.
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Page Last Modified by Catherine Beier, MS, CBE
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