At 40 weeks pregnant with my first baby I had an appointment with a new midwife. As usual I really enjoyed my appointment and got on well with the midwife. However a small part of our conversation played on my mind, not just played on my mind but literary replayed in my mind over and over again.
We were discussing Braxton Hicks contractions and how the tightening of my belly and the period like aches I was experiencing were my uterus getting ready for labour. I was then informed that contractions would be nothing like this at all, that the contractions would become more and more painful and I would become more and more distressed as they increase in frequency.
I let one ‘distressed’ pass but on the third “You will become more distressed” in a matter of minutes I stopped her and asked her if all of her patients became distressed during labour. She replied no of course not. I pointed out that it had taken me 4 years to conceive and the last emotion I imagined feeling on the day I would finally get hold my baby was distressed.
Distressed is an incredibly emotive word meaning: “Suffering from extreme anxiety, sorrow, or pain.” Even if I personally was going to experience contractions as painful (many women do not, and as it turned out I birthed drug and pain-free) why would she expect me to feel anxiety or sorrow at the fact that my baby was on his or her way?
Hypnobirthing in essence is simply replacing any fears we have of childbirth; fear of the physical sensations, fear of something going wrong, fear of the unknown, with the knowledge that our bodies are designed to give birth. If a woman goes into labour and immediately feels anxious her body releases adrenaline, her muscles tense up and she is a lot more likely to experience contractions as painful.
However if she feels empowered and excited as her labour begins, focuses on her breathing and allows her body to do what it needs to do her body will release endorphins and oxytocin those wonderful hormones that act like natural tranquillisers in the body, reducing the sensations of the contractions.
It is possible to birth without pain, and while this is not the aim of hypnobirthing (the aim being to allow women to learn and practice techniques to enable them to feel empowered, calm and confident during pregnancy and birth.) It does open your eyes to just how dysfunctional our view of childbirth has become that we assume that the majority of women will experience excruciating pain and be full of anxiety and fear while birthing.
So I ask you to choose your words wisely, you are in a position of authority and your words are highly influential throughout pregnancy but even more so just before a woman is about to experience childbirth for the first time. Using language such as:
“You will become more and more distressed.”
“The contractions will become more painful.”
“When you feel unable to cope.”
Are all direct suggestions to a woman’s conscious and unconscious minds. Even if like me that woman has chosen to view birth from a different perspective those suggestions are still powerful and set up camp in our minds.
Here are some simple suggestions of how you can choose to use language to empower the women in your care, whilst still being professional and realistic in the expectations raised.
I created the affirmations and hypnosis for pregnancy pack to support you right from the very start of your pregnancy and now my Embrace Bump to Baby confident pregnancy and birth course is alive and kicking.
A woman’s body is designed to give birth and part of the natural process of birth involves her body releasing endorphins and oxytocin our natural painkillers. The Embrace Bump to Baby course replaces anxiety and fear of birth with education and inspiration.
Carve out some time each week for you to connect to your body, baby and partner.
A blend of hypnobirthing, mindfulness, practical preparation and having a chuckle during pregnancy. This 4 week online video course teaches you a range of techniques allowing you to work with your body, baby and birthing team to experience an empowered and calm birth no matter what happens on the day – induction, c-section whatever.
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