What is hypnosis and how can it help with birth?

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Maggie Howell of Natal Hypnotherapy explains

Hypnosis is a natural state, which we all experience many times a day. It is a time when your conscious, (analytical, rational mind) takes a step back and your subconscious (feelings, memories, emotions) comes more to the forefront. 

Hypnobirthing  tracks  guide the mother-to-be into a deeply relaxed state using breathing techniques, guided imagery and visualisation. Once she is in a deeply relaxed state, the track continues with a detailed visualisation, as if she is going through a dress rehearsal of giving birth in a calm, natural way. Is a practise run at how she would like to feel and respond to the sensations and changes during labour. The tracks also include "triggers" such as "each new face you meet reminds you of the confidence you have in your body", and "each contraction encourages you to relax" and "the sights and sounds of the hospital float over you and allow you to remain wonderfully relaxed". This way you are using the things which may otherwise have caused you some anxiety and turning them into something positive and useful. 

By practising again and  again before labour your body and mind become familiar with the processes of a calm relaxed birth, so increasing your confidence and reducing the anxiety associated with birth. As the mind does not know the difference between imagination and reality, once you go into the labour for real, all the suggestions just kick in as the body recognises the sensations and triggers and says “Oh yes, we have done this before – this is a sign for me to relax, stay calm etc..”. 

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So in summary, the key to a comfortable birth is to keep the levels of anxiety and adrenaline to an absolute minimum. Be keeping relaxed, focused and breathing steadily and rhythmically, your body will have the best chance of producing the right birthing hormones to enable you to birth your baby unhindered by chemicals or drugs. 
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