3 Adelaide Women Share Their Experience With Hypnobirthing
When it comes to giving birth, one of the most common responses from women when you ask what worries them is Pain.
Google search results show that women are looking up:
How painful is birth?
Does it hurt to give birth?
How can I give birth pain-free?
Is it because of this that many women are now turning to hypnobirthing to manage the pain?
First of all, let's look at why childbirth is perceived as painful?
The changes your body is experiencing
The muscles in your uterus are contracting and your uterus and cervix are changing shape. Your uterus uses its thick muscle to pull your cervix up and out of the way so baby can pass through. It takes a lot of pulling, pushing and stretching within your body to get that baby out.
The position of your body
Much is written about the different positions you can birth in and the effect they may have on your labour. If you are laying down on your back, you are reducing the space in your pelvis. Thus making your body work harder to push your baby up the incline in your pelvis.
Not being able to freely move about will also impact the pain you are feeling.
Fear and Anxiety
If you’ve done any research into childbirth or attended any birth classes, you’ve more than likely heard about the fear-tension-pain cycle. For those that haven’t, I’ll explain it below:
The fear-tension-pain cycle is a concept introduced by Grantly Dick-Read to explain the pain associated with childbirth. The concept proposes that a woman’s thoughts and beliefs can induce anxiety and cause fear in labour. This fear leads to muscular and psychological tension that interferes with the natural processes of dilation and delivery, resulting in pain. And it is a cycle because with the pain can come more fear and so-on.
Now let's think of how pain works in your body
I like to use the analogy of cars driving along a road looking for somewhere to park (thanks Dr Sears!). When our body receives a painful stimulus, it sets a little car off to travel up the road of your nervous system and spinal cord and looks for somewhere to park in your brain.
So now we have three ways we can work with our body to stop this happening.
First of all by reducing the number of cars our body is producing. We do this in birth by remaining active and upright during labour. By thinking positively about the sensations we are experiencing and by keeping our muscles as relaxed as possible. You can use breathing techniques, visualisations or progressive relaxation techniques. Try not to get caught up in that fear-tension-pain cycle.
The second way we can stop the cars is by not letting them onto the road in our spinal cord. The Gate theory says, very simply, that we have little gates in our nervous system that pain has to pass through. If we can shut these gates or block them with other vehicles, then our little cars can't reach our brain to be perceived as pain.
So how do we block the gates?
We can create "peak hour" with different vehicles to travel along the roads of our nervous system by using all 5 of our senses.
And the third way is by filling up all the carparks (pain receptors) in your brain with other vehicles. Fill them up with the natural endorphins your body produces during childbirth or some pain medications also work this way.
What is hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing is a series of tools and techniques that promote pain management during birth. These techniques can include self-hypnosis, visualisation, breathing and relaxation techniques. There is also a birth education component so that women understand what is happening in their bodies during childbirth.
There are a few different hypnobirthing options around Adelaide. Some classes teach The Mongan Method and others teach the Hypnobirthing Australia method. Self-learning options such as books, websites and videos are readily available.
I spoke with 3 women from around Adelaide about their experience with hypnobirthing. I asked if they felt that their experience was consistent with the following statement: “One of the main theories that hypnobirthing discusses is the idea that pain is caused by fear and that by learning to relax, the amount of pain felt will be decreased.”
Why did you choose to use hypnobirthing for this birth?
“A friend gave me a copy of the [Marie Mongan’s] book and recommended that I read it. Reading the book completely changed my perspective. It eased a lot of my fears about birth and reminded me that our bodies are designed for birth”
“I wanted to have a different set of tools to use for birth”
“I wanted to have a natural water birth and avoid interventions. I placed so much focus on my birth outcome”
How did the theory of being able to relax in birth decreases the pain experience relate to your birth? Do you think your experience verified the above statement?
“It helped with reprogramming my subconscious beliefs and reaffirmed what I needed to do for a positive birth. My experience verified the statement and I think the most important thing is to practice and apply the info that the classes teach”
”It was helpful to have in the back of my mind. But I should have let go of my expectations and ideals. I feel like I failed though as I was exhausted and had an assisted birth after a long labour. I was able to cope with the pain which verifies the theory but I was exhausted”
”It turned around my concept of birth. The meditation was integral to keep me calm and focused. Even though my birth didn’t go exactly as planned my experience agrees with the theory”
What does the research say about hypnosis for pain relief in labour and childbirth?
A Cochrane review on hypnosis was released in 2016. It concluded that “Hypnosis may reduce the overall use of pain medication during labour, but does not seem to reduce the use of epidurals. Women using hypnosis are no more likely to have a normal vaginal birth. There is currently not enough evidence to say whether hypnosis helps women feel more satisfied with their pain relief in labour, nor whether it improves their sense of coping with labour.”
If you are interested in learning more about Hypnobirthing, please check out the below resources for local contacts.
Hypnobirthing Classes in Adelaide
0431 726 670
m: 0413 782 744
Mobile: 0413 505 533
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Kelly Harper is the owner of Elemental Beginnings Doula & Placenta Services in Adelaide. She provides sleep consultancy, placenta encapsulation and doula services to families during pregnancy, birth and in their fourth trimester.