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This is an excerpt from a more detailed article on Suggestions for Natural Childbirth (Role Theory).
Copyright (c) Donald Robertson, 2010. All rights reserved.
A quick review of some of the literature of hypnosis reveals many underlying common factors in the scripted definition of the woman’s role. The following ideas are employed in typical hypnotic suggestions used to define the goals and rehearse the tasks of the woman during childbirth. (NB: These are just the ideas employed, they're not phrased as hypnotic suggestions below.)
- You feel excited and look forward to the birth of your child, being able to hold the baby, etc.
- Focus on the knowledge that labour is a very common experience and completely safe and natural in the vast majority of cases.
- Each surge (contraction) passes quickly, within about a minute, and is experienced positively, as a step closer toward the goal of the baby being born.
- Surges are similar to other muscles of the body contracting and releasing.
- Pay attention only to the voice of the person speaking to you (“hypnotic rapport” or selective attention).
- Focus on feeling emotionally calm, physically relaxed, and mentally confident throughout.
- The most likely scenario is that you will have a normal birth and a healthy child.
- Interpret each surge as a signal (cue) to go deeper into hypnosis, i.e., to focus attention more on the expectation of relaxing and giving birth naturally, etc.
- Light massage or touch is a cue or signal that can soothe the body and increase comfort, or numb the area touched, etc.
- You can have medication if you want it, it’s your choice, but you will probably be able to cope without it.
- You can trust the wisdom of your body to take care of things and your intuition to guide you, just like millions of women throughout human history.
- Childbirth is a completely natural process, just like breathing, eating, or sleeping, etc., and your body is well-prepared to cope with it.
- You’re the boss; you’re in charge of things and you have a perfect right to decide what sort of birth experience you want.
- It doesn’t matter what other people say or do, you remain confident, optimistic, and positive.
- You’re doing your best for yourself and for your baby.
- Time can pass quickly; you are relaxed, aware, and have plenty of energy; your courage and confidence grow as labour progresses.
- You enjoy giving birth and you will always remember the best parts of the experience in the future.
- You tell yourself, “I can do this…”, and whatever you need to say to feel calm, relaxed, and confident.
I would particularly emphasise these factors, based on cognitive models of anxiety, etc.,
- Focus on the most-likely scenario, that things will happen naturally and you will have a wonderful, healthy baby, etc.
- Accept any feelings of pain, anxiety, or discomfort as normal, harmless, and transient rather than trying to suppress or avoid them (unless they are particularly strong).
- Focus on the genuine signs (or evidence) of safety that you have around you, e.g., the support from others, and the signs that things are proceeding as normal.
- Focus on your ability to cope using the techniques you have learned and adopt a self-confident and optimistic attitude throughout.
These should be treated simply as examples of things other people have recommended, and used as an aid to reflection. Ideally, the woman will write her own script and define her own role, as she sees fit.