Kate Middleton, who is due in July, is considering a variety of birthing options, one of them being hypnoBirthing, reports the New York Post. HypnoBirthing is one of the natural methods of childbirth that does not use medications or Cesarean sections.
HypnoBirthing is a method that uses deep relaxation, education, and self-hypnosis so moms can have a ‘natural’ childbirth. Is there science behind the use of hypnosis for birth pain?
Hypnosis and Pregnancy
In one study entitled, “Birthing outcomes in from an Australian HypnoBirthing program” researchers surveyed how Australian participants that attended the HypnoBirthing program from 2007 to 2010 compared to other studies where hypnosis was used.
Women in the HypnoBirthing program had varying results, including:
- Shorter stages of labor compared to the general population
- Lower Cesarean rate
- Reduced use of medications and epidurals
46 of the 81 participants (51 percent) did not use any pain medication at all, and their overall discomfort level was a 5.8 out of a 10. Two patients even reported zero discomfort during their labors. The women in the HypnoBirthing classes reported feeling more relaxed, less fearful, confident, and more in control.
How Does Hypnosis in Childbirth Work?
In a paper entitled, “Outcomes of HypnoBirthing,” the authors explain how one of the founders of the method, Dr. Grantley Dick-Read, described the uterus. Dr. Dick-Read explains how the three layers of the uterus work; the outside layer is composed of longitudinal muscle fibers which help to release the baby and open the cervix when these muscles contract. The middle layer is comprised mainly of blood vessels, and is used as support. The inner layer consists of circular muscle fibers that hold the cervix closed.
According to Dr. Dick-Read, western medicine has taught women to fear pain during labor, which creates tension. This fear and tension spark the fight-or-flight response – an emergency adrenalin reaction that produces hormones called catecholamines. The release of catecholamines redirects blood flow to the arms and legs, and away from the internal organs, thus causing the smooth muscle fibers around the lower half of the uterus to contract and close the cervix.
When the longitudinal muscle fibers contact, it pushes the baby against a closed cervix and causes pain. This cycle of tension and fear and the body’s response to it, often leads to failure to progress in labor, which results in medical or surgical interventions.