Hypnobirthing Explained: Fear and its affect on the body’s ability for a pain free birth

Hypnobirthing Explained

Hypnobirthing is a coping technique for labor.  It revolves around relaxing the body and being free of fear so a woman’s body will release the natural hormones that are most effective with controlling pain.

“Contemporary women in our culture hold an unprecedented fear of giving birth, too often associating it with excruciating pain, thereby causing their bodies to become unable to perform what should be a normal physiological function.” 1

Dr. Grantly Dick-Read  is introduced in the beginning of HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method as being the doctor who introduced the “Fear-Tension-Pain Syndrome” theory.  This theory’s premises are the two basic principles:

  • “fear is the cause of tension within the body, and in particular in the uterus, and that tension inhibits the natural birthing process, prolonging labor and causing pain.”2
  • The human woman’s body produces its own natural relaxant that facilitates an easy birth in the absence of fear and tension. 2

The history of how human birth is perceived has changed over time.  There were not many options for pain medication for centuries, then there were only medicated deliveries in parts of the world.  Today’s concept of birth is usually portrayed as a painful, life-changing event. As mentioned by hypnobirthing instructors and commonly believed, humans have been programmed to believe childbirth is painful and awful.  The media will show screaming women, doctors will share all the risks of childbirth, woman are surrounded by information and images to create fear.

Hypnobirthing aims to reprogram the brain and subconscious to get rid of its fear and ideas of pain being present during labor and birth.  Different techniques are used such as visualizations, meditations, breathing and imagery.

A question arises then, does this work?  Is it feasible to have a pain-free birth if fear is eliminated? Through different mediums of reviews and forums the responses will vary.  If a pain-free birth was not achieved, was it at least lessened? There is not a way to measure this as there’s no control group for the same birth.  What we can do is see more scientific explanations for fear and its effect on the body and commonly mentioned feedback.

From transitiontoparenthood.com the below summaries of fear during labor are offered. 3

Effects of fear on labor:

  • Increased pain for mom: Fear tends to increase muscle tension. The more tense our bodies are, the more pain we experience.
  • Possible increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. These can develop because fear activates adrenaline, and a fight or flight response.
  • Possible complications with labor: Adrenaline neutralizes the effect of oxytocin, the hormone which stimulates labor contractions, which dilate the cervix, and bring baby down through the birth canal. If fear blocks oxytocin, it may lead to longer labor, failure to progress, more medical intervention to move labor along, or to deliver the baby.

Commonly heard feedback to hypnobirthing can range from something along the lines of “I experienced an entirely pain-free birth and fearless birth” to “I was not prepared for any pain, it was awful and overtook any hope of coping naturally”.  Most hypnobirthing instructors will relay the message it’s all about how much time goes into the preparation; how frequently the techniques are practiced before laboring.

1 http://www.hypnobirthing.com/hypnobirthing-techniques-benefits/
HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method, Marie F. Mongan, pg. 4
3http://www.transitiontoparenthood.com/ttp/foreducators/handouts/Tigers.pdf

Hypnobirthing in Dubai

If you are interested in trying Hypnobirthing, there are lots of options in Dubai.  The three main types of Hypnobirthing methods found in this region are: WiseHippo, Mongan Method, and KG.  My understanding is Mongan is the US and first kind of hypnobirthing initiative, KG is UK based, and WiseHippo is more modern, focusing on ‘the right birth on the day’ that’s suitable for all birth types.  All will cover similar principles, just differ in styles from the sounds of it.  Private and public group classes are both offered.  The group class rate is 2200 AED for four or five sessions.  Some options for classes are:

Birthzone – Wise Hippo Birthing Programme classes given by Nicky, location Al Zahra Hospital on Tuesday evenings, though dates may vary, please check the schedule online

Love Parenting UAE – Mongan Method Hypnobirthing both private and group classes given by Jasmine.  Group classes at Horizon Kids Nursery on Tuesday Evenings or Friday Mornings

Baby Belly Mom – Wise Hippo Birthing Programme both private and group classes given by Shereen. For group classes, please check the schedule online

Dubai Doula’s – Wise Hippo Birthing Programme Private classes by Elizabeth

Little Feather Doula – Wise Hippo Birthing Programme Private classes by Erin

There is also a wealth of video’s on youtube.  Find some you like the sound of the speaker’s voice and the background music (or lack thereof).  The Mongan Method Hypnobirthing book can be found 2nd hand on occasion at the baby bazaar, or from asking FB mommy groups. This book is half the history of birthing and how hypnobirthing works, and half preparation for labor.

Any comments or experiences to share please reply!

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