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 HypnoBirthing General Discussion
 Hypnosis and Childbirth
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Posted - 09/16/2004 :  12:30:02 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Contractions are tense, but "waves" lull. Labor is a difficult task, but "birth" is joyous. Due dates are hard and fast, something to shoot for. If a deadline is missed something is wrong, but expecting a child in a "birthing month" is no sweat. Pain hurts, especially the pain of childbirth, but "sensations" are felt and experienced.

In many cultures all over the world, giving birth is not a complex series of medical procedures, numbing drugs, pain killers, big machines that go "bing!", and as seen on TV, hours and hours of ear-piercing screams. In the United States, friends and strangers walk up to pregnant women and describe their own labor horror stories full of clock watching, anxiety, fear, inductions, Caesarean sections and discomfort.

According to practioners of childbirth hypnosis, women are deciding to "just say no" to anxiety-filled months of waiting for the blessed day when they’ll feel the worst pain ever (and of course have a wonderful baby as a result). Natural childbirth, water births and hypnobirthing techniques are augmenting the medicalized version of childbirth, even in complicated situations.

In her Exeter office, Julie Hall, a certified hypnotist and HypnoBirthing Childbirth educator works with soon-to-be first time parents Rich and Lisa Harty of Hampton on their fourth and final session before the big day, sometime in early September, when their baby girl will be "breathed down" in what it is hoped will be a gentle, joyous and maybe even pain-free experience.

Hall uses a personalized "deepening script" to rapidly bring Harty into a state of relaxation with a technique the couple has practiced on its own at home, and will use again when the time comes.

"Lisa’s afraid of everything" says husband and birthing companion, Rich. "Snow, wind, rain, dogs. But she’s not afraid of this. It’s a matter of knowing the mind is strong and that we can use that muscle too to calm ourselves down."

There is soothing music playing as Hall directs Harty in low melodic tones to focus, to make the room disappear, to find her peaceful place. For Harty, this is a beach on a sunny day, her favorite spot to be at any time. She feels the sand, the heat from the sun and goes deeper into her trance state. Hall tells her that all this will happen in her birthing. She’ll relax and continue to give soothing messages to her baby and her body. She will be empowered by awe and confidence and by the choice she has made in performing the ballet of birth.

Chances are that Harty will be able to duplicate this state with the help of her husband and have a birth that is smooth sailing for parents and baby alike.

Hall is one of more than 1,700 certified Hypnobirthing® practioners around the world, a practice started by Marie Mongan who founded the HypnoBirthing Institute in Concord in 1987. Hall became a practitioner several years ago after looking for a more natural way to birth her third child following a C-section birth and "way too many medical interventions and interruptions for my liking" she says.

Hall embraces the theories of doctors like Grantley Dick-Read who wrote "Childbirth Without Fear" in 1944. His premise is that women were becoming increasingly fearful of childbirth and it is that fear that leads to tension and therefore painful childbirth.

HypnoBirthing reduces or eliminates the fear and tension using relaxation techniques and gentler alternative language, such as "membranes releasing" instead of "water breaking," "special circumstances" for "complications," and "breathe the baby down" for "pushing." These techniques can be used in a hospital or birthing center to minimize the pain and even the length of the birthing process even in medically complex situations, and even among the most ardent skeptics.

Theresa Case of Fremont says, "I didn’t know much about HypnoBirthing going into it and I was skeptical. My husband, Steven was very skeptical. But after one session he was an advocate. I was very scared about having a baby in general, and I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to make the HypnoBirthing work."

It didn’t help that Case was told she had gestational diabetes and had to take insulin. Twice a week she went to get treatments and heard women screaming in pain during labor.

But the techniques she learned worked.

"I had back labor, but I don’t really recall feeling the surges. I used the techniques and stayed focused and forgot about everything from the neck down. I was so focused on telling myself the HypnoBirthing was going to work."

"At one point my husband called Julie (Hall) and she heard me making high-pitched noises. She told me to get it down to a low humming, a more soothing noise, to help the process."

From the peaceful place in her mind, a beautiful view of the mountains through a window in a lovely room in the Mount Washington Hotel, Case gave birth to Laura Irene in just over four hours on Feb. 10, 2004, with minimal discomfort and even heightened sense awareness .

"The Exeter Hospital nursing staff was unbelievable" says Case. "The method is still fairly new, but they helped me through the last hour. I was so in my zone that I sat in a Jacuzzi for an hour and a half and it felt like 10 minutes later she was born. An hour later I was hungry and up to take a shower. The method gave me the control over the experience."

Even high C-section rates, rampant in the United States at an estimated 25 percent of all births can be reduced using the method. Dr. Lorne Campbell Sr., a clinical professor of medicine at the State University of New York at Buffalo is a spokesman for the HypnoBirthing Institute. He says that when they began delivering babies in 1983, he had a C-section rate close to the current national average. Since using hypnosis, specifically HypnoBirthing with hundreds of clients he says he rarely sees complications or the need for analgesic drugs. More startling, he reports that his C-section rate has dropped to 1 percent.

For first-timers Rich and Lisa Harty, learning the techniques they’ll use in the birthing room has helped already.

"I’m learning my own way and to trust my instincts." Says Lisa. "I wasn’t really nervous about the birth, but about the pain, and using these techniques brings me to a calm place. We don’t want the nurses to ask about my threshold of pain or remind us of the time."

As Harty is slowly brought out of her "deepening" she’s calm, anxiety free and ready for what she hopes will be a wonderful birthing experience.

Hall relies on her own experience using HypnoBirthing for the birth of her third child to help others achieve the same success she did.

"I was so deeply focused and relaxed and calm that I actually felt the baby move gently down the birth path," says Hall. "It was a profound experience. I didn’t know such a birth was possible. Once I discovered it was, I knew I had to share HypnoBirthing with other women."

Dr. Laura De Giorgio
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