/ by JoAnne B. Burris, APRN, CNM
Meghan Markle's due date is quickly approaching, so she has been preparing herself for a natural birth by undergoing acupuncture and hiring a doula. The Duchess of Sussex is also following in the footsteps of her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, and will be using a technique called "hypno-birthing."
But what exactly is hypno-birthing?
Hypnosis is being used more and more as a comfort measure during labor. In its most basic form, hypnosis is positive affirmations paired with deep relaxation. The philosophy re-frames birth from a painful event that women dread to a pleasant and even joyful experience.
To help change our perceptions around birth, we as midwives use different language for women who are using hypnosis. For example, we say “birth” or “birthing time” instead of "labor." We talk about pressure, tightening and intensity rather than pain, and contractions are referred to as “pressure waves.”
Women who use hypnosis for their birth train for approximately six weeks by listening to audio recordings and practicing hypnosis regularly. They learn how to stay relaxed and positive throughout the birthing experience through “eyes open hypnosis.” These recordings are designed for different stages: pregnancy, the birthing time and when it’s time to push. Each of these tracks encourage women to stay calm, confident and relaxed throughout the process.
I personally had two un-medicated births. For the first birth, I used yoga and breathing techniques. While I was able to have the natural birth I wanted, I felt like I was enduring a very painful experience.
Like Middleton and Markle, I learned about hypnosis and trained throughout my third trimester for my second birth. My second birth was a totally different experience. I actually laughed through my birth. It was beautiful, enjoyable and empowering. My husband describes the difference between the two births as “night and day.” The mental shift from dread to excited anticipation was very effective for me, and I always encourage our patients who are interested in hypnosis to pursue the courses to see if it would be a viable option for their birth.