Pregnant women prepare for childbirth in different ways, out of a desire to alleviate – as much as possible – the pain of labor and the fear and confusion surrounding it.
“Hypnobirthing” is one of the famous methods of mental preparation, which relies on relaxation and entering a state of deep concentration, with the aim of reducing anxiety and dealing with pain better.
Healthy birth cycles
In recent years, many courses on self-hypnosis childbirth have spread on the Internet, including what is called “The Peaceful Birth” by trainer Christine Graf.
As a mother of 3 children, she has gone through the experience of childbirth, and knows very well the extent of the physical and psychological exhaustion that a woman experiences during the process. “Giving birth without mental preparation is like climbing a high mountain without the appropriate equipment,” Graf says.
Mandy Mangler, chief obstetrician and gynecologist at the Vivantes Auguste Victoria Hospital in the German capital, explains: “Hypnobirthing and other forms of mental preparation are effective ways to reduce the feeling of pain during labor.”
She added that following certain methods can help a woman convince herself that childbirth does not threaten her life, and that she can control the level of pain “if she wants to,” noting that thinking that uterine contractions (labor) represent waves can help alleviate the feeling of pain.
“To put it simply, it’s about keeping the woman’s focus at the time of birth on herself, and accepting that labor pain is a physiological process,” she added.
On the other hand, Mangler stressed the need not to romanticize or pathologize childbirth, and to look at it only as a medical condition.
Lots of preparation and practice
Returning to Graf, she trains participants in her courses to achieve a state of “numbness,” which consists of focusing on an essential matter and ignoring everything that surrounds it.
She points out that reaching this state requires a lot of preparation and practice. “The earlier a woman practices this method and becomes more regular in following it during pregnancy, the better.”
The hypnobirthing trainer also stressed the necessity of “taking a rest for several days (during the exercises), and there is no problem in postponing the start of the exercises until the last 3 months of pregnancy.”
Hypnosis is not like a back needle
For her part, Dr. Mangler warns against excessive expectations, as “the pregnant woman must practice all methods that require energy, as hypnobirthing is not as effective in relieving pain during childbirth as a back needle (epidural injection).”
Mangler considers mental training primarily a way to prepare women for natural childbirth, noting that childbirth is a major event in a woman’s life that is closely linked to a sense of self-efficacy and empowerment. Therefore, to complement the role of the midwife before birth, hypnosis can be a useful tool.
Mental preparation for birth
In order to prepare for childbirth, Mangler says, “Communicating with the midwife to obtain as much information as possible about the birth client helps a lot. Through these conversations, the midwife can know the mother’s personality type, what is important to her, how she views childbirth, and how to allay her fears and fulfill her wishes.” .
According to Graf, many clinics and birth centers are familiar with techniques related to mental preparation for birth.
When does a pregnant woman start “numbness”?
The date at which a pregnant woman should begin entering a state of “numbness” depends on the mother, in addition to several factors during the birth process.
Graf advises preparing the pregnant woman herself, “when the contractions start, the body starts working. Then, you can go into a state of numbness.”
Graf explained that it is illogical to expect the state of “numbness” to remain uninterrupted during childbirth, “because there is always something that disrupts this process. This is very normal. What is important is that the mother learns to focus quickly again after stopping.”
It is noteworthy that the German Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology emphasizes the limited evidence about the effectiveness of hypnobirthing.