Becoming pregnant is life changing.
As you prepare for the physical, social and psychological changes ahead, this will undoubtedly bring with it a range of emotions, spanning from the excitement and joy of becoming parents, to the anticipation and for many, anxiety of childbirth. For around 10% of the population this can take the form of an intense fear known as tokophobia.
Where has this culture of fear surrounding childbirth within our society come from?
The severity of anxiety surrounding childbirth varies dramatically, as do the causal factors. Every pregnant woman and her partner are unique, fears and anxieties will be based on your individual experiences and beliefs. However, several studies have identified the main causal factors of as:
- Previous negative or traumatic experiences.
- Secondary fears such things as blood, needles or hospitals.
- Shame surrounding sex.
- The transmission of information.
Hypnosis and psychotherapy can help you to work through and overcome previous traumatic experiences, other related phobias and feelings of shame, so please contact me if you would like to discuss this further.
The transmission of information is a factor which everyone can identify with, so let’s take a closer look.
The way in which childbirth is portrayed has been found to be a major factor in the development of fears. In fact, studies have found a significant proportion of women either delay or forego having children or consider elective caesareans due to their fear.
The stories we tell each other and the way birth is spoken about are all taken processed and stored in our subconscious memory – effectively we become negatively hypnotised.
It is programmed into us through the media, through traumatic stories, and through the way in which we are spoken to about pain control as if it will inevitably be required.
So rarely does the media find stories of joyful births newsworthy. Birth is presented as something to be feared, as a medical procedure that we must get through in order to become parents. Even the term ‘labour’ is suggestive of an ordeal.
We are so lucky to have the medical equipment and expertise to deal with complications that do sometimes arise. However, is the culture of fear and medicalisation of birth contributing to the occurrence of complications?
What happens in childbirth when we are anxious?
When we are fearful, the anxiety response (fight, flight or freeze response) kicks in, telling us that the environment is unsafe, that danger is ensuing, therefore the body prepares for survival. However, childbirth is a normal, natural bodily process and this anxiety response is just not helpful in this situation.
So how does anxiety hinder childbirth?
- Blood flows to those parts of the body needed to fight or to run away. Blood and oxygen are directed away from the uterus causing contractions to become less efficient.
- Production of cortisol (stress hormone) increases which in turn decreases production of oxytocin (love hormone). Oxytocin is needed in copious amounts to stimulate contractions, therefore the progression of labour is slowed.
- The muscles in the uterus and birth canal tighten, causing discomfort and reducing elasticity.
- Discomfort causes more stress and fear and so the cycle continues and continues.
How can hypnosis help for childbirth?
In a review of current research, it was found that hypnosis and self-hypnosis used in childbirth showed consistently better results than standard medical care, counselling and childbirth education classes in: reducing pain, reducing the duration of labour, reducing the amount of interventions required and increasing newborn’s APGAR scores.
Hypnosis for childbirth:
- Can teach you how take control of your experience.
- Reduce or eliminate fear of childbirth which in turn allows labour to progress more quickly.
- Change your expectations of childbirth.
- Give confidence to both you and your birth partner.
- Provide you with the tools to manage sensations of discomfort.
- Helps with bonding between you, baby and partner.
- Has been found to reduce the risk of post-natal anxiety and depression.
Studies have shown the most significant indicator of a positive birth experience is whether or not a woman feels safe and in control, hypnobirthing can give you this.
Take control with hypnobirthing, Congleton, Cheshire.
Hypnobirthing is not about teaching you how to give birth, your body and your baby are already perfectly designed to do that. It is about teaching you how to let your mind take a step back and allow your body and your baby to get on with what they were made to do. It is about education, relaxation and giving you all the tools to feel in control of sensations and your childbirth experience. Whether this is your 5th time giving birth or your 1st, whether you are anxious or not or whether you are having a natural birth or caesarean hypnobirthing allows both you and your partner get the most out of your childbirth experience.
I am trained in the easibirthing® model of hypnobirthing which is exclusively designed for qualified hypnotherapists and developed in conjunction with midwives to reflect UK birthing practices. To find out more about the easibirthing® click here
I offer one to one sessions and group sessions of hypnobirthing and can tailor these to your specific needs, concerns or experience. If you would like any more information you can read more about the benefits of hypnobirthing here or please contact me with any questions you may have about how hypnobirthing or hypnosis and psychotherapy can help you.