Hypnosis for Childbirth: What Is It and Does It Work?

by Kerry Tuschhoff

Mention labor and delivery to an expectant mom in her last trimester, and chances are good that her heart will begin to race, her mind floods with concern and in some cases, panic. She knows that the day is coming when a force much bigger than herself will take over and her body will govern itself completely. For some women, this is a very fearful event, but for 'hypnomoms', it is merely a challenge.

These wise women use hypnosis to eliminate pain and fear from the birthing experience. In the past, the word "hypnosis" conjured up images of stage hypnotists re-creating Elvis, or mesmerizing others into embarrassing situations. Now it is common for hypnosis to be used therapeutically in many areas of medicine, dental anesthesia and personal therapy sessions. Even so, there are many misconceptions regarding hypnosis that can dissuade those contemplating this powerful tool. Here are a few FACTS (see our page on hypnosis for more information):

  • All hypnosis is self-hypnosis; the hypnotherapist is only the guide. A person chooses to enter into a hypnotic state, stay in and come out at will.
  • Approximately 90-95% of the population can be hypnotized. Willingness, belief and motivation have great influence over hypnotizability.
  • During hypnosis you are neither asleep nor unconscious, and will always "come out" when you wish.
  • Stronger-minded and stronger-willed people are easier to hypnotize; not the other way around as is usually assumed.
  • You cannot be made to divulge information or do anything against your will while in hypnosis.
  • Hypnosis is not Satanic or religion-oriented at all, just a way to direct your inner mind toward the positive.

What about Hypnosis for Childbirth?

Hypnosis is used in medical and dental hypnosis with great success by patients who have life-threatening allergies to anesthetics, allowing them to undergo surgeries with no drugs and no pain. We know therefore that the mind can be trained to experience discomfort as only pressure, and that is what is achieved in childbirth hypnosis as well. In addition, with labor, the more relaxation the mother experiences, the more comfort she will have, and the depth of relaxation necessary can easily be achieved with hypnosis, as physical relaxation is learned and practiced daily in preparation for birth using guided visualizations followed by positive hypnotic suggestions. When the critical conscious mind is by-passed with hypnosis, the inner mind can literally be reprogrammed to believe that birth will be comfortable, easy and joyous. Software for your mind!

Fears and Expectations

In other cultures, childbirth is regarded as a natural, normal event in a woman's life. The birthing women are given support from other women, and children are often present to witness the event. In this way, birth is celebrated and honored. Young girls then grow up with the belief system that birth is a positive event and their expectations of childbirth reflect this attitude. As a result, their births are similar to their predecessors; without pain and fear. They have a positive expectation of childbirth. In our culture, it is very much the opposite. For many generations we have been told that delivering a baby is many hours of painfully agonizing work, to be faced with fear and trepidation. We have heard stories from well-meaning friends and family that send shivers up our spines, and so the legacy continues. We experience pain in childbirth, in part because we very much expect to!

When learning about how the mind controls the body, the expectant couple is taught to surround themselves with only positive people and messages, to create a positive view of childbirth and the expectation that their birthing with be the beautiful, peaceful experience that they want. Fear Clearing Sessions are integral to this process, as they allow each person to address fears they have, work through possible solutions and then release them. Fear in labor can create tension, which creates pain, then more fear, and the cycle continues. Fear and anxiety can also create adrenaline production in the body, causing the labor to become dysfunctional, a common reason for Cesarean Section surgery. Freedom from fear can make a huge difference in the birthing experience.