Using hypnosis as a way to make giving birth easier, more comfortable and even faster has been known about in the western world for the best part of a century, so it’s good to see the NHS finally trialling the use of hypnosis with birthing mums.
As Dr Christian Jessen (of TV’s ‘Embarrasing Bodies’ fame) reports in the London Evening Standard,
An 18-month NHS trial study aims to teach expectant mums how to hypnotise themselves before giving birth as an alternative to painkillers. This will involve learning how to attain a trance-like state during labour in the hope that they will not need costly treatments such as epidurals.
He then goes on to explain how it works:
Hypnosis is successfully used in many other areas of healthcare, including dentistry, well known for its association with pain and fear, and fear here seems to be the key. Most mums experience anxiety and fear about the impending birth, in part due to our society’s highly medicocentric approach to birthing, implying that it is a dangerous, painful and scary experience.
Hypnotherapists believe that a lot of the pain of childbirth comes from fear acting on the body to cause tension and muscle constriction. If women can relax and release muscle tension, this causes less pain, more effective contractions and often a shorter labour. It certainly sounds plausible, and the feedback from women who have used it has been consistently positive.
It’s even been backed up by several relatively large-scale studies, one of which found that self-hypnosis during childbirth eased some of the pain of labour, lowered the risk of medical complications and reduced the need for surgery. Another study found that hypnotherapy shortened the first and second stages of labour. For women having their first babies, the first stage was reduced from an average of 9.3 hours to 6.4 hours, and the second stage from 50 minutes to 37 minutes on average. The differences for women having their second or later children were less dramatic, and it is here the financial benefits may be seen.
It’s such a relief to see the NHS taking hypnosis seriously and finally taking a closer look.
Bye for now,
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