A study conducted by CL Pasero and R Britt (August 1998). Managing Pain During Labor, published in the American Journal of Nursing 98:10-11, reports that indeed a painless childbirth is a reality for as many as 45,000 WOMEN EACH YEAR IN AMERICA. It follows that if those are the numbers in one country there must be millions all over the world experiencing the same thing.
When I talk about a painless childbirth, I don’t mean you will not feel anything. You’ll experience each wave as surges of incredible energy. You’ll innately know how labor comes one minute at a time, and when you focus on managing that one minute: staying in the present moment one breath at the time and one minute at the time; you’ll be able to conquer it. Childbirth is a natural event with a known positive outcome. While a labor wave is indeed intense, it lasts only one minute and then you get a break –guaranteed. When you learn to manage these waves one minute at a time, you learn that labor is very different from what you have experienced as pain in your life. Learning how to stay in the moment is the challenge.
Pain is usually what we feel when something goes wrong. It is often associated with an unknown outcome: When we break a leg, we feel pain and there is no reprieve unless we resort to painkillers. We wonder how long it will take before we can again walk normally. How long or if we will be able to go back to our regular activities. By contrast, in birth once the baby comes out the sensations of labor go away and you have a happy, amazing, loving baby snuggling in your arms.
Painlessness is a state of well-being that encompasses body, mind, and spirit. If you would like to join the growing number of women who experience a painless childbirth here’s what you have to do.
Once ingrained in your childhood, most behavior and beliefs becomes largely automatic; you experience a stimulus or trigger and react without conscious thought. That is why trying to change behavior, emotions or improve physical performance and appearance (like losing weight) by using only your self-will often fails. It has nothing to do with your intentions, or your commitment to the change, or your will power: our minds just don’t work that way. If your mental and spiritual programming is based upon fear and worry, if your survival instinct is constantly is a flight or flight state, there is only so much you can do on your own to manage your state during labor and delivery. The waves of labor will take over your conscious state and you unconscious will run wild with whatever information you have given it.
To prepare you need to uncover the roots of your behaviors and beliefs, discover how and when they trigger you, and discard that which no longer works. You need to learn conscious, mindful, and present living; you must heal and rebirth a new self rooted in self-love and self-acceptance. How do you do that? It takes practice.
If you want to win a marathon you must train, if you want to have a painless childbirth you also must train your body, mind and spirit. In order to change your behavior, your belief system and your expectations you need to do some serious soul searching. I cannot give you all the tools in this article, I have written a three hundred page book called Painless Childbirth: An Empowering Journey Through Pregnancy and Birth, Cumberland House Publishing 2008, about this particular subject and training, but let me tell you that it can be done. Yoga, meditation and working with a hypnotherapist is a great start.
How you prepare you mind and body is the singular most important factor for the successful outcome of your birth. Far too often our joy and excitement are over-shadowed by fear, uncertainty and questionable self-confidence. With the help of a professional Hypnotherapist you can reach and embrace your ability to change your state of fear, worry and stress into calm and self-confidence. When your mind, body, and soul are in harmony, you have essentially created the perfect balance for physical comfort, mental relaxation and emotional confidence. Relaxation, achieved through self-hypnosis techniques, releases the fear and tensions that cause long labor. Therefore, pain is lessened and in some cases even eliminated. This is not to say that you will not experience any sensations during labor and delivery, this is to say that hypnosis can redirect your experience of the intensity of labor from an unmanageable sensation, one you feel out of control and victimized by it to something you can comfortably manage.
Fear creates tension and tension creates pain. Fear also makes the body release adrenalin, which contracts all muscles preparing for the ‘fight or flight’ reaction, and catecholamine which is a hormone that closes the cervix in response to fear. In essence the body recognizes fear as a dangerous situation and tells the body to stop labor and flee. Why do we keep talking about fear? You logical mind might be looking at the birthing of your baby not as a fearful event (beforehand) and you feel you really have to “conscious” fear for the all process. You really think you can be in control and might not really need anything to manage the waves of labor, certainly none of this soul searching especially right now while you are pregnant. But let me tell you what happens. Once the surges of labor arrive, your conscious and logical mind, your self-control as you know it ,takes a back seat, and your primordial brain, also called reptilian brain takes over. This part of our brain comes in when we are in exceptional states, especially when we perceive them as life or death situations. It is the one responsible for the many times you have done things you that have surprised you in the past. It has been known to be responsible to give enough strength to a mom to be able to raise a car singlehandedly, to save her child. It brings in at times an amazing strength, and at times it simply reacts and runs for the survival. YOUR survival. So if this part of your brain perceives labor as crises it will concentrate on stopping all sensations and motion toward the delivery. Often just walking into a hospital, a place your primordial brain equates with pain and suffering, is enough to trigger it.
“We need to always remember that mothers who are afraid tend to secrete the hormones that delay or inhibit birth. This is true of all mammals and is part of nature’s design. Those who are not terrified are more likely to secrete in abundance the hormones that make labor and birth easier and less painful-sometimes even pleasurable.”Ina May Gaskin, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
Using hypnosis before labor helps you understand where your fears lay, what your beliefs system are around your own capacity to birth your baby and to be a mother, and what events of the past, including your own birth, are coloring your reactions of today. During labor hypnosis can help you as you recall what you have learned during your sessions, to achieve a state of total relaxation, and this can transform you labor into a very pleasant and sacred experience. The negative cycle (OMG what is happening to me I cannot handle this) is replaced with confidence, calm, and comfort (my baby and I are working hard to bring a new life into this world.)
Yes and no. With the help of self-hypnosis audio tapes or CDs, you can train yourself to reach a state of relaxation that can and will help you achieve the birthing experience you desire. But if your beliefs systems and fears are deeply rooted you might need the help of a professional. When you are willing to stay focus and use the nine months of pregnancy as an opportunity to heal yourself and prepare yourself, you can achieve a painless experience.
In order to achieve our goals, we need to empower ourselves and be ready to change some aspects of our being to make room for another expression of G-d, or our individual notion of a power greater than ourselves. Your role as a mother often will depend on what is imprinted in your subconscious; what others have told you about who you are and what you should expect; the role your own mother played in your life; and the information you have gotten from friends, relatives, books and/or your care provider. Our subconscious mind directly influences what we think, feel, and the choices we make. It is up to you to decide: you can live by what others say you should be/do/ or think; or you can take full responsibility for your state.
When I was pregnant with my son, I experienced my soul slowly recognizing its higher potentiality as this child was forming inside my womb. It was exciting to feel the power of creation within me. I learned to relate to him as I would relate to an angel. I began to imagining a relationship with where I would often ask myself, “What are my actions, beliefs, thoughts and attitudes teaching my child right now?” I resolved to go on a journey that would not only birth a better human being, but birth a new self.
Being a creator of a human life awakened in me the awareness that my body was a vessel for the miracle of creation. Eastern religions speak of the Divine not as an entity outside of us, but as something we are a part of, something that is closer than our hands and feet, nearer than our breath. This abstract concept became very real as I felt my baby growing into my belly, and I felt his touch and movements. Spiritual awakening was instrumental in my ability to experience a painless childbirth. The nine months of gestation became a unique opportunity to learn the secret of conscious living
When I speak of spiritual awakening and close contact with my Higher Power, I am referring to a Higher Love that encompasses all. Sometimes I call it God, or Higher Power, or Mother Nature. I encourage you to find your personal connection with a power greater than yourself. Being spiritually enlightened and leading a conscious life can be done as a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and even an agnostic. What you call it, how you refer to it, how you pray to it does not matter. What matters is that you feel the power of creation within you and become one with this power.
Pregnancy is a great opportunity to deepen your practice, meet with your higher self and together bring a new life into this world, painlessly, joyfully and effortlessly, as Mother Nature intended.
Giuditta Tornetta is a birth and postpartum doula, a lactation educator, a hypnotherapist and author of the bestsellers book: Painless Childbirth: An Empowering Journey Through Pregnancy and Birth She has a private practice in Marina del Rey. She can be reached through her website at www.JoyInBirthing.com