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Steve Gurgevich
Steven Gurgevich Ph.D.

Labor Pain Made Easier with Self-Hypnosis

Just how easy and comfortable can birthing/labor be?

"Pain" is the word most associated with labor and delivery. But it doesn't have to be; here's why.

Learning self-hypnosis can make childbirth and labor much easier with less discomfort, more control and self-confidence. Here is a list of just some of the many benefits of learning self-hypnosis during pregnancy.

  • Easily learned and rapid improvement with practice
  • More effective relaxation... less anxiety and fear
  • Greater awareness and ability to re-interpret bodily sensations
  • Increase or decrease speed of labor
  • More effective response from external support
  • Enhanced belief in one's expectations for control of discomfort
  • Enhances other comfort measures used
  • Easily incorporated with other techniques (e.g., breathing techniques, imagery)
  • Greater control of the cervix opening
  • Greater communication with baby before and during delivery
  • Greater self-control over rapid increase in pain and the "unexpected."
  • Improved sleep: means greater stamina and endurance
  • Greater focus, clarity, and ability to "detach" from the discomfort better
  • Mentally prepared for painful sensations and ability to alter perception of them
  • Greater confidence and trust in body functions and sensations during labor
  • More responsive to supportive suggestions and encouragement
  • Enhanced post-hypnotic suggestions for postpartum comfort, lactation, and mood

Over dinner one evening with my friend and colleague, Dr. Andrew Weil and his wife, Sabine, she told of labor and delivery difficulties with previous births and was concerned about her forthcoming birth. Dr. Weil suggested that she have a session with me to learn some hypnosis before the birth (which was to be at home). She spoke of previous labor/delivery being complicated and prolonged by developing a lip on the cervix which limited the rate of dilation. This translated into prolonged labor and pain.

In our session, I taught her self-hypnosis. By the way, ALL hypnosis is self-hypnosis. No one "gets hypnotized." It may appear that way, but in reality no one can be "hypnotized." In my 37 years of practice I have taught thousands of patients and physicians how to do and use hypnosis. But I could no more "hypnotize" someone than I could "meditate them" or "laugh them." We can facilitate this natural and suggestive state of consciousnous and it can be learned either rapidly or more slowly, depending on the individuals' comfort, talent, and motivation.

I recorded the session which lasted about 20 minutes. Hypnotic suggestions were offered to access the mind-body connection to dilate the cervix, to experience any discomfort as an awareness of pressure present, and suggestions for comfort after delivery. Suggestions were also offered for her to be able to have communications with baby... let the bonding begin now. Dr. Weil tells me that later that evening, Sabine bent over with a cramp-like sensation and said that she could feel the baby moving. Their midwife came by that evening and confirmed that baby did, in fact, turn around for a more comfortable and natural pressentation. Long story made short... when labor began, Sabine had a comfortable, controlled labor and delivery before they could even fill the water-birthing tub. I believe labor and delivery was around an hour or two. If you are interested in more details, check out the pages around 96-97-98 in Spontaneous Healing where this was published in Dr. Weil's landmark book that gave launch to integrative medicine.

Additional information about hypnosis is also available from The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis to find a certified practitioner. Or at my personal website, HealingwithHypnosis.

And don't miss Dr. Teitelbaum's blog on How to Have a Healthy Pregancy - Naturally, right here on the integrative medicine blogs.

Do you have a personal experience of using hypnosis for birthing you wouldn't mind sharing here? Questions are also welcome too.

Slide 39

•More effectlaxation…. Less anxiety and fear •More O2 to the uterus, muscle relaxation between contractions •Awareness and reinterpretation of bodily sensations •Increase or decrease speed of labor •More effective response from external support •Easily learned and rapid improvement with practice •Enhanced belief in one’s expectations for control of discomfort

About the Author
Steve Gurgevich

Dr. Steven Gurgevich is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine specializing in Mind-Body Medicine and the Director of The Mind-Body Clinic at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.

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