History of Hypnosis in Child Birth
History dates back as early as 300 BC, Hippocrates and Aristotle, medical philosophers and leaders of the Grecian School of Medicine were using hypnosis with mums-to-be. Interestingly, neither wrote of pain in their notes on normal, uncomplicated birth. They believed that the needs and feelings of women in childbirth were to be accommodated. Aristotle wrote of the mind-body connection and emphasized the importance of deep relaxation during childbirth. In the event of complication, women were brought into a relaxed sate so that the complication could be resolved and treated.
 
Florence Nightingale further wrote extensively about the mind-body connection in her 1859 nursing volumes.
 
Historical perspective

Early drawings and pictures often depict women squatting during labour - either over a shallow hole in the ground, or on a low platform to allow room for delivery. Kneeling or sitting with the aid of another person or a support, was also commonly adopted. A birthing stool was first mentioned in Babylonian times and became popular in many European countries in the Middle Ages. 
 
During the seventeenth century it seems to have become fashionable for women to labour horizontally in many European countries. Various reasons have been suggested for this change in posture. A trend towards medical supervision in childbirth meant that the physician needed to have easy access to the vagina for the purpose of examination. Pain relief may also have contributed to reduced mobility - secondary to drowsiness or leg weakness for example. Accordingly, many people have become accustomed to the notion that childbirth is limited to lying passively in bed. But this is not the case by any means!
 
Nowadays most centres encourage women to be mobile during labour and choose positions which they find most comfortable. This freedom of movement can still apply when using nitrous oxide or low-dose epidurals for pain relief.
 
While most centres nowadays encourage women in labour to be up and about, certain medical conditions may prevent this. For example, if you have high blood pressure or your baby's head is not engaged in the pelvis, then your obstetrician will want you to stay in bed. If your baby is preterm, or is being monitored continuously, then - depending on the type of monitoring being used - it may not, be feasible for you to walk around. Your obstetrician or midwife will explain the reasons concerning any limitation on your freedom of movement.

BREATHING
From the earliest days of childbirth education, attention has been placed on learning breathing techniques for use during labour. Breathing patterns were (and in some centres, still are) taught primarily as a distraction during uterine contractions. As labour progressed and the contractions became longer, more painful and closer together, women were taught to alter their pattern of breathing. It is now recognised, however, that a rigid adherence to breathing patterns is often associated with over-breathing (hyperventilation), fatigue and inability to maintain the pattern - resulting in feelings of failure. Since the early 1980s, much less emphasis has been placed on rigid, pre-learned breathing patterns and women are encouraged more to 'do what comes naturally'.
 
MUSIC
Historical records reveal that the ancient Greeks played soothing instrumental music to women in labour. Music can have a relaxing effect in labour due to its ability to alter mood, reduce stress and promote positive thoughts. It can be used as a trigger for a breathing response or as a cue for relaxation. It may also be used as a distraction although this is a less effective use for music in labour. Music can be comforting not only for you, but also for your supporters.
 
Velvovsky - Soviet Union -
pioneered pschyoprophylaxis in childbirth. The theoretical basis of this is that normal handling of impulses arriving at the brain from the contracting uterus rely upon a balance between excitatory - inhibitory processes in the cortex and sub cortex of the brain. Any disruption of this balance paves the way for the misinterpretation of nerve impulses as pain. Hence non painful impulses are translated as pain. Psychoprophylaxis endeavours to prevent this imbalance from occurring through deep breathing during contractions; pressure applied to ‘pain-prevention’ points and stroking.
 
This method emphasises that ‘non-painful’ impulses are translated in the brain as painful ones as its premise that labour is not a painful process. This view is inconsistent with current understanding about the sensory mechanism of labour pain. Nonetheless, it like many ‘natural’ and pharmacological techniques addresses the importance of reducing the effects of stress on labour pain and the normal progress of labour. Moreover, pressure point stimulation may along with techniques like TENS, therapeutic massage and acupuncture act to inhibit the transmission of pain carrying impulses in the spinal cord through counter-stimulation.
 
Fernard Lamaze - French obstetrician -
embraced and modified Velvovsky’s methods in the 1950s. During the second (delivery) stage of labour breathing was rapid and shallow during contractions, with panting when the head crowned. He added the use of controlled neuromuscular relaxation in order to ‘conserve oxygen’ and omitted timing of contractions, pressure applied to pain prevention points and stroking. Along with education and relaxation training, Lamaze’s breathing techniques form much of the basis of current approaches to ‘prepared childbirth’ training.
 
Frederick Le Boyer - French obstetrician -
childbirth without violence’ - believed that the harsh environment of the traditional delivery room caused psychological trauma to the infant. In the Le Boyer method, the infant is delivered in a dimly lit, quiet room and placed on the mother’s abdomen until the umbilical cord stops pulsating whereupon it is placed in a warm bath.
 
Dr Grantly Dick-Read - English gynaecologist-
 rejected the need for pain relieving drugs during childbirth on the grounds that pain was principally a product of preconceived fear and tension ( he called it the 'fear-tension-pain' syndrome). He believed that women who were properly prepared could control labour pain themselves - without having to resort to medication. In order to achieve this, he stressed the importance of education, exercise and relaxation.
 
The method is based on English obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read’s 1944 manual ‘Childbirth Without Fear’. Dick-Read said that hypnosis during labour helps women break what he described as the “fear-tension-pain syndrome”. Once contractions start, fear kicks in as a reflex, causing blood to flow away from the uterus to muscles in the legs. The reduced blood flow causes the uterus to cramp, resulting in pain. So, if women could only relax, they would have less pain, more effective contractions and shorter labour. 
 
That’s where hypnosis helps. “It allows a woman to enter a state of deep relaxation. The feeling is similar to daydreaming or when one is lost in a book or movie,” explains Mongan. She named it as HypnoBirthing Mongan method. A review of patients who had used hypnobirthing was published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia in 2004. The review suggested that there was evidence of a reduced need for pharmacological analgesia. A controlled trial is currently under way in Australia, which is seeking conclusively to prove that hypnosis can make a significant difference to women in pregnancy and labour.
 
“The method has been gaining acceptance in the US, where there is a growing trend of moving towards natural birthing. Of the 1,059 cases that came to us between October 2005 and January 2008, as many as 80% were from the US,” says Kathie Dolce, who works at the Hypnobirthing Institute and is assistant professor, paediatrics, at the University of Colorado. 
 
What is HypnoBirthing®?
HypnoBirthing® is a complete birth education programme that teaches simple but specific self hypnosis, relaxation and breathing techniques for a better birth.
 
HypnoBirthing® is much more than just self hypnosis or hypnotherapy for childbirth.
  • With HypnoBirthing®, you'll discover that severe pain does not have to be an accompaniment of labour
  • You'll learn how to release the fears and anxieties you may currently have about giving birth, and how to overcome previous traumatic births
  • HypnoBirthing® lets you discover and experience the joy and magic of birth - rather than the horrific ordeal everyone else seems hell-bent on telling you about
Most importantly, you'll learn how to put yourself back in control of your birth - rather than blindly turning your birthing experience over to your doctor or midwife.
 
HypnoBirthing® doesn't mean you'll be in a trance or a sleep. Rather, you'll be able to chat, and be and in good spirits - totally relaxed, but fully in control. You'll always be aware of what is happening to you, and around you.
 
HypnoBirthing® doesn't require any particular belief system, or prior experience. Some of our mums (and especially their husbands!) have been very sceptical at first - until they experience it for themselves.
 
In fact, the more sceptical they are to start with, the more evangelical they are when they discover the power of HypnoBirthing®.
 
Just imagine welcoming each surge! Feeling peaceful... relaxing... and even smiling as your baby comes closer to you!
 
In short, HypnoBirthing® allows you to experience birth in an atmosphere of calm relaxation, free of the fear and tension that prevents the birthing muscles of your body from functioning as Nature intended them to.
 
Why is HypnoBirthing® so good?
Here are some of the things you'll learn that are not covered in most antenatal classes.
  • Breathing techniques that actually help the birth (and it's not the panting that most people think they have to do. Think about it - why would anyone want to hyperventilate during labour?)
  • How to massively reduce the need for any medication at all
  • How to reduce your risk of needing an episiotomy during birth with a stunningly simple massage technique
  • How to be confident and informed when dealing with the medical staff - when to question, what to ask...and when it's time to let them take charge
  • How to release any fears you might have about childbirth...regardless of where they come from
  • How to bring about your own easy start of labour with these simple, natural techniques, if you go beyond your "estimated due date"
  • Most importantly, you'll know how to relax and stay calm and in control - regardless of what's happening around you
HypnoBirthing® is designed as a structured but informal class format that teaches about the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of birth. You'll learn why your body does what it does, as well as how.
 
Plus, as well as the classes themselves, you'll receive a professionally produced 196-page text book "HypnoBirthing®: A Celebration Of Life", an affirmations and relaxation tape or CD set, and numerous weekly handouts, all included in the price.
 
Benefits that have been reported by mums include:
  • Considerably shorter labour and birthing
  • Significantly fewer surgical births
  • High number of comfortable, natural births with no technological assistance
  • A high rate of success in assisting breech-presented babies to turn into appropriate birthing position with the use of posture and hypnosis (in a study done at the University of Vermont of 100 women at 37 to 40 weeks, there was a 81% success rate with hypnosis)
  • Highly energized mums in good spirits following births that are calm and gentle
  • You'll learn the techniques once for this birth, but then you can then use them again and again, no matter how many children you have
  • HypnoBirthing® techniques work very effectively with home births, water births, hospital births, birthing centres...whatever. It's your choice what kind of birth to have - HypnoBirthing® helps them all.
  • You can use the techniques to help calm and relax yourself any time you feel stressed out...(we've had many couples tell us this alone has been invaluable!)
What you'll learn through HypnoBirthing® is how you can confidently approach a safe, easier and more comfortable natural birth.
 
We can't promise you a 'perfect' birth - no one can - but we can promise you a much, much more comfortable and relaxed birth than you would have had otherwise.
 
Does it help the baby too?
Yes. We find that babies born using HypnoBirthing® tend to be calmer, feed better, sleep better and experience less trauma, because they are gently and calmly breathed into the world at their own pace.
Scientific research has also shown that the babies usually have higher Agpar scores as well (a measure of how well your baby is doing immediately after the birth, and then five minutes later).
 
Finally - something useful for the dad to do!
Instead of your husband or partner being a helpless onlooker, they become a central part of the birthing process, helping you to stay calm and focussed on the techniques you've been taught. 
As a result, the fathers feel proud to have been able to help, and to be an active part of the birth.
Imagine how close that makes them feel to you and the baby!
RELAXATION
 
The stresses of labour can motivate you to work with them. They may release energies within you that you hadn't previously recognised and which will help you to cope with the birth experience.
 
Childbirth stress appears in many forms:
  • pain associated with uterine contractions 
  • concern about coping with pain 
  • the possibility that you may reveal some aspects of yourself which you normally keep hidden 
  • the reactions of people around you to how you are coping; 
  • the welfare of you and your baby. 
These are just a few of the stresses associated with childbirth. Each woman reacts differently. In labour, levels of stress have the potential to be high depending on how pain and anxiety are managed.
 
Relaxation techniques are designed to reduce muscle tension and ease the pain and stress of childbirth. They are not difficult to learn and many women find them useful in other stressful circumstances too. Learning how to relax offers several benefits:
 
(i) During pregnancy
Many women find that relaxation helps them to get off to sleep at night and to have a rest during the day.
 
(ii) During labour
Relaxation techniques help you to cope with the physical and emotional stresses of labour in various ways. Relaxation is known to have effects on the sympathetic nervous system which may assist the labour process. By relaxing in between contractions, many women find that they can face the next contraction with renewed energy. Relaxation also reduces muscle tension and so helps counteract fatigue.
 
(iii) After the baby is born. 
New parents find that life after delivery is hectic, demanding, and tiring. Being able to relax helps mothers to snatch some rest during an otherwise busy timetable. Relaxation can also make baby's feed time more enjoyable. After all, a relaxed mother is more likely to cope well with the stresses of early parenthood.
 


Already popular in the West — celebrities such as Hollywood actress Jessica Alba have opted for it — the technique has just come to India. It is fast gaining ground. “Two of my patients are taking hypnobirthing classes,’’ says Dr Ameet Dhurandhar, a Mumbai-based gynaecologist. Both are expected to deliver at month’s end at Bandra’s Chrysalis Hospital.
 
NEW DELHI: Saloni Zutshi was terrified of labour just like any mother-to-be. But on November 4, 2008, she surprised herself when she gave birth to her first baby in a pain-free delivery. She is so thrilled she wants to “do it all over again”. While this Delhi mother is extraordinary in wanting to repeat labour, she is also the first in the country to use hypnobirthing, a new technique that makes childbirth easier. 
 
 
Hypno-therapist Divya Deswal (centre) holds baby Anaadyanta, flanked by her proud parents Saloni and Vasant Goel.