If you use self-hypnosis to help manage your contractions, you can experience a faster, more positive labour.

It helps you to keep breathing deeply through a contraction, which is important to help keep your uterus supplied with oxygen, enabling it to do its job.  Our instinct as humans is to inhale sharply when we perceive pain and hold our breath.  Useful for those moments when you slam your finger in the car door, but just not practical for long term experiences like labour.  Self-hypnosis helps you to keep your breathing deep and regular,

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It takes your conscious mind away from the experience. The mind has two parts, the conscious and subconscious.  It is your conscious mind which analyses and makes rational decisions, your subconscious is the more instinctive part of your brain.  In labour, a principally instinctive action, ideally a woman will switch off her conscious mind, and distract it. Analysing labour can get you nowhere, except into a fearful state, since labour is unlike everything else in your life you associate with pain.  (Generally pain = bad but in labour the “pain” of a contraction is a very good thing, something you should empower yourself to welcome).  
photo copyright Annie Armitage

When I teach you self-hypnosis, I am teaching you to switch off your conscious mind at your own behest, achieved through distraction of the conscious mind although not actually making it blank.  Most people have very active minds and cannot experience nothing specifically, unless they are asleep and even then some people have such vivid dreams (especially in pregnancy) they believe their mind is still very active.  During a hypnosis session, you will find a place for your conscious mind to wander, as it is not important that you actively listen to my words – your subconscious will take them in, in spite of your sometimes intrusive conscious mind.  Like everything it takes practice, but if you can lose yourself in a book or a film, then you can lose yourself in hypnosis.


Self-hypnosis can help you control your production of adrenalin.  Both extreme happiness and excitement, or anxiety can cause the body to produce adrenalin and this adrenalin release can hamper your body’s ability to produce oxytocin, the hormone essential to start and maintain your labour.  If you are surrounded by anxious or excited people, your own adrenalin levels will increase as you pick up on their mood.  By remaining calm and relaxed, you will find that you can manage your labour without interruption, that your oxytocin production will continue, enabling you to have a faster, more productive labour.


Self-hypnosis can adjust your perception of pain.  If your contractions are as you perceive them and not as anyone else interprets them, you can choose to interpret them as a positive force working for you and feel very powerful.  Likewise if you have noted on your birth plan that you wish to ask for pain relief as you need it and not be offered it, psychologically that can help you a great deal.  (It has been clinically proven that people ask for pain relief on average two hours later than if they are offered it).  A good phrase for your birth plan is:  I know what pain relief is available and will ask for it if necessary, please do not offer any pain relief to me.


Self-hypnosis can alter your perception of time.  In the same way that time flies when your mind is completely occupied by a wonderful book, conversation or film, so your conscious mind can experience the time of your contraction as much less than it actually is.  Time distortion is very common using hypnosis.  Women generally imagine a session has taken 15 minutes when in reality it has been closer to 30.  If your perception of your labour is only 50% of the actual time it has taken, imagine what a very helpful tool that could be.


I give you the suggestion that you can have no negative thoughts.
  At the moment of a contraction, I suggest that you can have no intrusive, analytical thoughts that will be harmful to your subconscious (such as, “I can’t do this”).  Labour is like nothing else you have ever experienced and contractions are like a light switch:  there and gone, on and then off.  You can have as many negative thoughts as you choose between contractions, but when you are no longer in pain, you are less likely to feel as strongly about them as you would during a contraction.


I  encourage you to use self-hypnosis in times of sleeplessness or stress, a tool you can use for the rest of your life.  Imagine a tool that enables you to relax on command, taking you to a very close state to sleep which usually becomes sleep very easily.  You can also use these techniques if you experience any type of anxiety at the doctor or hospital appointments you may have.  It is amazing how many women are diagnosed with high blood pressure because their response to a hospital or to something a doctor has just said to them, is an anxious one.  If you choose to use it, self-hypnosis can help you to stay calm and relaxed through blood being taken, blood pressure being checked, or any internal examinations.


You are completely in control of your own relaxation.  I try not to connect your relaxation and feelings of strength and confidence to anyone else.  If your partner or your midwife irritates you during labour (and most women prefer to labour in a very quiet, private environment, in a darkened room not feeling as though they are being observed) then it is not ideal for them to be responsible for your ability to relax during contractions.  You can choose to spend your early labour away from your partner, either asleep between contractions or just alone, allowing your partner to get as much sleep as they need to enable them to best support you through your labour.  How lovely to be able to disappear to a quiet pace within yourself and spend your labour there,  and in my experience of helping over a thousand women prepare for and cope with labour and birth, it is by far the best way to be during your labour.  


You can also be in control of how much contact anybody has with you.  In a hospital delivery room, or on a labour ward, midwives may interrupt you during a contraction without realizing.  Self-hypnosis allows you to signal to everyone around you that you are experiencing a contraction and would prefer not to be disturbed, understanding that when you are ready, you will bring yourself back into the room and then allow interactions to take place, be it taking of your blood pressure, asking for a drink or changing position, all on your terms.
In addition to teaching you self-hypnosis, I encourage you to use your own words as far as possible (taken from a questionnaire I ask you to fill in).