Childbirth is unpredictable, but that is all the more reason to prepare for it and embrace it. You will never have another chance to give birth to this child…
For some women, birth is a truly fearful event. For those that learn the skill to calm their minds, it is merely a challenge…
Calming the mind is essential, since the prefrontal cortex is where rational thinking takes place which is not the space in the brain responsible for birthing! Indeed, the limbic brain (recording feelings & sensations starting from conception) and the reptilian brain (the most primitive part of the brain responsible for our physiology) is where women can tap into their true potential in childbirth.
Getting out of the thinking brain and dropping into the body for the average Western woman is not a common talent unless you have actively been practising this skill regularly. Another big contributing factor to a woman’s birth experience is her emotional history and level of fears (conscious & unconscious) in the body-mind. Therefore, safely processing any unresolved emotional energies within her limbic system & subconscious can greatly increase her capacity to cope with challenges as well as decrease the likelihood of encountering complications during conception, pregnancy, birth and postpartum. This includes her own conception, gestation and birth experience, which is all stored in the limbic brain.
Luckily there are various methods helping women in pregnancy do exactly so to prepare for birth. Meditation, Self-hypnosis as well as Sophrology are some options.
Isn’t meditation just for gurus?
Most definitely not!
In meditation science traditions available throughout the West, people learn to shift out of the overactive mind, resting into a state of relaxed awareness in the face of challenges enabling a deeper connection to the body and its functions and bringing about numerous psychological & biological benefits due to the mind-body connection.
Ken Wilber says in his important book, The Marriage of Sense and Soul, that meditation science is a good model for Western medicine today because it’s based on thousands of years of work with methods that are highly refined, that are repeatedly tested and proven and shown to bring about the same results again and again and again.
Meditation practices have been used successfully in oncology, cardiovascular care, and pain
management programs for over 30 years to reduce stress, anxiety, and pain; to restore balance; and to improve function of the endocrine, immune, and nervous systems.
The Calm Birth program is the first to introduce practices of meditation during pregnancy,
childbirth, and the early postpartum period. The biological and psychological benefits of meditation are imparted to a womb child through the pregnant woman’s bloodstream and through sympathetic resonance. The same benefits may be imparted to the child after birth through lactation and breastfeeding and energetic resonance.
Another important benefit derived from meditation is increased tolerance of pain based on
psychological factors. Extensive research conducted at the UMMC (Murphy & Donovan, 1999,
p.77-78) demonstrated statistically significant reductions in the following: present moment pain,
negative body image, inhibition of activity [natural movement potential], mood disturbances,
anxiety, depression and the need for pain-related drug utilization.
Additional observed benefits of meditation with significant implications for childbirth are: (1) Benson, 1996, noted cesarean section surgery reduced by 56% and epidural anesthesia use reduced by 85% among those practicing meditation; (2) Tsai, 1993, found reduced work stress levels in nurses after meditation training; (3) Astin, et al, 1987, concluded that mindfulness meditation may be an important cognitive coping strategy for transforming the ways in which we respond to life events.
The body will not work well if it is constantly overexerted and overstressed. Meditation is an opportunity to replenish the body’s stores, regain strength, rest and heal.
What about hypnosis?
My first encounter with hypnosis was several years ago in non other than…Las Vegas. (Yes, the era before our family’s child-rearing project commenced.) The hypnotist was decked out in a shiny ensemble. His perky helpers sported less garments..actually way less…
Needless to say, the show involved several audience members being hypnotised on stage and finding themselves in peculiar situations (sometimes involving bananas) once Mr. Shiny snapped his fingers. Even right after the show was apparently over, one lucky participant who had returned to his seat experienced uncontrollable impulses upon each applause from the audience!
Nowadays, it is common for hypnosis to be used therapeutically in many areas and with great success in medical and dental procedures.
During labour, a mother uses self-hypnosis to go to a practised trans state during the birth experience in order to manage the sensations.
I fell in the trap of our modern western culture. Believing I need to do everything in my power to eliminate this “expected pain”. I won’t bore you now with too many details.
Instead of having the awareness that I can draw on my natural resources and learn new skills to empower me through the experience, I eagerly opted to avoid this expected “punishment” by accepting all and every medical intervention proposed to me by the default highly medicalised (yet paid so can be very misleading if you’re not aware) maternity care system.
So why, didn’t I choose to use meditation or hypnosis for childbirth as pain management? To be honest, I did not know enough about it and did not realise and understand the enormous impact it can have. Where would I find it in Luxembourg, would I even find it English?
Today, following my career change in 2013 and subsequent extensive studies in preconception, pregnancy, birth and parenthood, I have new insight! I can not deny the fact that the mind-body connection is real! I have seen enough evidence. My aim now is to educate expecting families that there are highly effective childbirth preparation methods that indeed works, without further risks for mother or baby. With no side affects. All that is required is an open mind and time to practice the skills so you are empowered on this wonderful joyous day of your baby’s birth.
Read part II & III:
Your guide to childbirth methods in Luxembourg by Marise Hyman
More about the author
Mother of 2 children born in Lux, Preconception, Prenatal & Parenthood Doula, Marise Hyman provides worldwide coaching, healing and education in preparing for an empowered conception, pregnancy, birth, life and parenthood journey. She is an IMPI Perinatal Coach/Educator, IMPI Holistic Pregnancy & Child Sleep Practitioner, Happiest Baby on the Block Educator, “Becoming Us” Facilitator, Dancing for Birth™ Instructor, Holistic Childbirth Educator, Reiki Practitioner, Head-trash Clearance + Fearless Birthing Professional, “Birth into Being” Facilitator (level 1-3) and Calm Birth® Teacher.
She understands that we need to “heal birth to heal the earth” and is therefore also a passionate Birth Advocate and founder of the Luxmama Club & ParentPrep asbl, an NGO raising awareness for birth rights, perinatal mental health and green parenting through social and educational events.