Hypnosis has played a part in obstetrics since around the 1930’s. It is not used only with the labor and the birth but also for many problems in the pregnancy such as morning sickness, backaches, insomnia, and fatigue.

An original article for MidwifeInfo.com by Sandra Taylor, LPN,CD,CHBP,ACBE.

Henry Ford said “Think you can, think you can’t, either way you’re right.” There is nothing mysterious about hypnosis. We can trace the practice of hypnosis back to ancient Egypt and Greece (where it was used in the
Sleep Temples for relaxation.)

What is hypnosis? Hypnosis is nothing more than a conditioned reflex, a process which produces relaxation, distraction of the conscious mind, heightened suggestibility and increased awareness allowing access to
the subconscious mind through imagination. At all times during hypnosis you are in complete control, very alert, aware of all surroundings.
Hypnosis is like daydreaming when you drive and not remembering your surroundings when you arrive at your destination. It’s like looking at a stream of water and drifting away, a feeling of total relaxation,
security, contentment, being at peace with your world and yourself.

These are all hypnotic trances.

Hypnosis works because all human beings are suggestible and suggestion is the key to hypnosis. Although almost everyone can be hypnotized, a feeble-minded person cannot, because being hypnotized takes imagination
and a willingness to cooperate. We can program ourselves with positive suggestions or we can let the influences of our environment program us with negative suggestions such as, “I knew you couldn’t do that!” or,
“You’re dumb,” You’re stupid.” These are examples of suggestions that enter our subconscious mind and are stored for our use. Our subconscious minds work day and night whether we are awake or asleep. They maintain a storage bank of memories that includes everything that has ever happened to us: every experience, every word spoken, each relationship and each event in our lives. Our subconscious minds control all functions of our bodies and actually take control of our conscious minds.

Anxiety, tension, and fear are not natural body processes. They are the result of undue pressure and are often at the root of many diseases, allergies, and chronic pain. Tension in itself can cause pain. An example of this is the common headache that is often caused by nervous tension. Tension can also complicate the natural process of childbirth.

Although there is discomfort in natural childbirth, extreme pain is not a necessary part of the birthing experience. The discomfort of childbirth can be greatly reduced or almost eliminated when a woman is
relaxed in mind-body connection. Labor is hard work but it does not need to be painful. Pain in labor is due to tension caused by fear (we’re always afraid of the unknown) that in turn increases pain. A vicious circle of three evils (fear-tension-pain) destroys confidence, relaxation, and self-control during labor.

When using hypnosis for childbirth, one of the first things you must learn is not to listen to other mothers’ birthing stories. Unfortunately, other mothers frequently want to tell you the horror stories of their births, not the good stories. You don’t want these negative experiences placed in your subconscious mind to emerge during your birth experience. You want only positive suggestions and affirmations used. When someone tells you a birthing story, learn to keep only the positive parts and discard the rest.

Another important lesson is, ” What’s wrong with labor?” Women all over the world experience birth differently. In America we have taken a normal process of our bodies and allowed the medical model to turn it into a
high-tech medical problem. We need to treat birth as a normal process and let mother nature take her course. In most parts of the world, birth is achieved with the help of midwives or other women in attendance to the mother: women attending women.

has played a part in obstetrics since around the 1930’s. It is not used
only with the labor and the birth but also for many problems in the
pregnancy such as morning sickness, backaches, insomnia, and fatigue.
The use of hypnosis has many benefits:

· eliminates the fear before, during, and after birth;
· reduces the need for chemical anesthesia;
· eliminates or reduces fatigue during labor;
· may shorten the first stage of labor by several hours;
· allows a wonderful bonding experience for parents and infant;
· makes postnatal recovery rapid and easier;
· makes babies tend to be better adjusted and happier, more alert due to being drug free, and nurse easier and faster.

Birthing is returned to the beautiful experience that nature intended – very calm, relaxing, and peaceful.


Studies on Use of Hypnosis for Pregnancy and Labor:

a study done at the University of Hawaii on using hypnosis to turn
babies from breech to vertex presentation (bottom down to head down) in
a group of 100 women with breech presentation at 37 to 40 weeks, there
was a 81% success rate with hypnosis while only 48% in the control
group turned (L.Mehl (1997), Mothering 82:Jan-Mar)

a Wisconsin study, the benefits of hypnotic analgesia used in
combination with childbirth education were studied in 60 nulliparous
women (first babies). The women were divided into high and low hypnotic
susceptibility groups before receiving six sessions of childbirth
education and skill mastery using an ischemic pain task. Half of the
women in each group received a hypnotic induction at the beginning of
each session; the remaining women (control subjects) received
relaxation and breathing exercises typically used in childbirth
education. Both hypnotized women and highly susceptible unhypnotized
women reported reduced pain during the pain task. Hypnotically prepared
women had shorter first-stage labors, less medication, higher Apgar
scores, and were more likely to have spontaneous deliveries than
control subject. Highly susceptible, hypnotically treated women had
lower depression scores after birth than women in the other three
groups. The study authors proposed that repeated skill mastery
(practice at the pain task) increased the effectiveness of hypnosis in
their study. (T. Tyre (1990), Study on obstetric outcomes using
hypnotic analgesia and skill mastery combined with childbirth education. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 58:5)

For more information, e-mail questions to Sandra at sktaylor3@juno.com or check out her website at http://homestead.juno.com/sktaylor3/Hypnobirthing.html

Another website with lots of information about hypnobirthing is Kerry Tuschhoff’s “What is hypnobirthing… and does it work?” .

To learn more about hypnobirthing, read Better Birthing with Hypnosis by Michelle Leclaire O’Neill, PhD, RN (to order, visit her website). The
author’s Leclaire Childbirth Method -a Lamaze program for the
twenty-first century that incorporates hypnosis – helps you experience
labor and childbirth calmly, joyously, and painlessly! This holistic a
method draws on both modern science and ancient wisdom to present
pregnancy as the glorious, instinctive event it should be.