How your mind affects your body...
Why positive thinking is important...
If something is expected to be awful and horrendously painful, it probably will be! Negative thoughts about birth are absorbed over a lifetime, remaining in your subconscious at least, if not at the forefront of your mind...
Like other mammals, the parts of your brain in control of birth have very primitive needs. You need to feel as positive, safe, warm, supported and unobserved as possible, otherwise the sympathetic nervous system is activated and birth is dominated by the fear-tension-pain cycle
The primitive brain can't always tell the difference between real or imagined danger ~ the imagination often influences the body regardless (e.g. heart rate increasing when watching scary movies!) During birth, negative thoughts (including those buried deep down), or feeling unsafe, insecure and unsettled in any way can activate the sympathetic nervous system; triggering a state of fight-or-flight.
Adrenaline is released, blood drains from the uterus (to help you run away), the circular muscles of the womb (including the cervix) tighten up, contractions then become very painful and inefficient compounded by lactic acid build-up (cramp), the neocortex (thinking part of the brain) is overstimulated making it hard to 'switch off' and babies may get into distress. Essentially, in fight-or-flight, the body fights the birth process. Birth then becomes inefficient and excruciatingly painful.
1) processing your fears
2) nurturing a positive mindset
3) practising self-hypnosis
4) having excellent support
- is more likely to activate the parasympathetic nervous system; promoting calm, keeping your heart rate and blood pressure steady, leading to...
I have a cognitive-behavioural therapy exercise here to help you acknowledge and process any fears or concerns surrounding the birth of your baby. There are also elements of fear release in your birth preparation audio and partner script, as well as a dedicated audio for full subscribers.
Fostering a positive expectation...
The more you practice hypnobirthing (in a variety of ways) the more effective and powerful it is. Create a positive 'blueprint' of birth deeply within your mind. Each time you listen to the audios the hypnotic suggestions are reinforced.
Practising hypnobirthing several times a week, and daily in the last few weeks of pregnancy, also means that self-hypnosis is becoming a more familiar and increasingly automatic state for you - one that you can enter at will.
Some people set their expectation towards an orgasmic, blissful birth; others choose to adopt an attitude of curiosity about how their contractions will feel under self-hypnosis:
"I deliberately chose not to interpret the contractions as pain, instead I thought of them as "a really intense physical feeling that requires all of my focus" Steph, Cornwall
Can you really choose how to feel? Find out more in my blog entry: expectation affects perception
Myth-busting... If you have medical pain relief you've failed "It wasn't the perfect hypnobirth I'm afraid"
No! 9% of our non-induced parents choose an epidural (and 80% of those induced with the drip). However you feel the sensations, using hypnobirthing to focus and cope is always beneficial, even (especially) alongside medical pain relief. Release yourself from any self-imposed pressure. The 'perfect hypnobirth' is about having your best birth, no matter what path birth takes.
Choose your support wisely...
Effective birth partners are worth their weight in gold. They act as 'gatekeepers' to ensure that you can feel as safe and undisturbed as possible, in your birth 'cave' or 'bubble'. They can also assist with practicing your positive hypnobirthing triggers during pregnancy, and using these on the day. Consider choosing willing, confident birth team members or hiring a doula who is trained in space-holding for hypnobirthers.