Hypnosis Used to Help Birthing

Public release date 13-Mar, 2005 By Bethany Carson – H&R Staff Writer Having a baby? RELAX: HypnoBirthing teaches that natural childbirth need not be painful DECATUR – Seeing pets give birth without as much as a wince always mystified Clatie Fischer. The Bloomington mother was skeptical that it was possible for humans to give birth […]

Public release date 13-Mar, 2005

By Bethany Carson – H&R Staff Writer

Having a baby?

RELAX: HypnoBirthing teaches that natural childbirth need not be painful

DECATUR – Seeing pets give birth without as much as a wince always mystified Clatie Fischer.

The Bloomington mother was skeptical that it was possible for humans to give birth without feeling pain, but she never felt comfortable taking medication.

So, during her second birth, she didn’t.

Instead, she used self-hypnosis, which she learned from taking a HypnoBirthing class taught by a Decatur mother of two, Cynthia Grgurich.

“The whole idea is pretty new to this area,” said Grgurich, who offered her first HypnoBirthing class in 2002. “It’s a new twist on a very, very old way of thinking.”

Marie Mongan developed the program in 1989 based on the ideals of obstetrician Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, author of “Childbirth Without Fear” that originally was published in 1933.

HypnoBirthing reinforces the theory natural childbirth does not equal pain.

“Fear of birthing is something that’s been bestowed on women,” Grgurich said. “Fear causes pain, which causes tension, which causes problems with birthing.”

It’s called “tension-pain syndrome.”

She said the uterus and the cervix open up the way they’re supposed to when the woman relaxes.

That’s where hypnosis comes in.

“When we’re deeply relaxed, our subconscious is more able to take suggestion,” Grgurich said.

“All hypnosis is self-hypnosis,” she said. “You’re always in control.”

During birth, it’s the conscious mind that allows the woman to trust her body and let the subconscious mind direct her in natural childbirth.

“You focus on your body, on what’s going on with you and your baby, versus focusing on something else,” Grgurich said.

That’s comforting to first-time mother-to-be–;Stephanie Norris, a student in Grgurich’s classes.

The Streator resident drives an hour and a half with her husband, Mike, to absorb the message that giving birth doesn’t have to be painful, contradicting the warnings from her friends who have had babies but have never studied HypnoBirthing.

“I’m trying to block all that stuff out and not even consider it because they’ve kind of closed their mind to it,” she said. “They think that I’m just seeing the world through rose-colored glasses.”

With 13 weeks left in her pregnancy, she said the classes have been worth the effort.

“The class helps ease those fears,” she said. “Your body’s going to do what your body was meant to do, and it shouldn’t be painful or scary.”

Yet, she said, deep relaxation takes practice.

Grgurich said self-hypnosis is not as foreign as it initially sounds.

“We all go into and out of hypnosis daily, about every 90 minutes,” she said.

Fischer, the Bloomington mother of two, compared self-hypnosis to driving a car without remembering the drive.

“You don’t remember details, but somehow your body automatically does what it has to do,” Fischer said.

She gave birth to her second child with HypnoBirthing a year and a half ago.

Grgurich said her role is to help parents make decisions when dealing with the medical community.

“I do not give medical advice,” Grgurich said. “I teach choices. I teach to ask questions.”

She also helps the women train their minds to not feel pain.

That lesson pleased Fischer, who always thought her mind is the strongest part of her.

“There doesn’t have to be pain,” she said. “You get to choose the sensation you feel.”

She chose to feel pressure.

“It was like pushing a piano up hill,” she said. “It was hard work, but it wasn’t unpleasant.”

When she felt a contraction, which HypnoBirthing students call a surge, she asked her husband to “do the arm thing.”

Grgurich teaches the companions to run the back of their fingertips along the woman’s skin.

She said her favorite part is watching couples work together toward a peaceful birth, producing a loving atmosphere.

“The husbands are so attentive,” she said smiling, “and it’s such a sincere attentiveness.”

Martha Aldridge, formerly of Mount Zion, said HypnoBirthing allowed her to feel more in tune with her husband, Shayne, during her second birth at St. John’s Hospital two-and-a-half years ago.

She said she felt unprepared with Lamaze classes during her first pregnancy, leading her to feel tense and untouchable when she went into labor.

“I did not want anybody close to me, including my husband,” she said.

The second time around was much different.

The couple drafted a birthing plan they learned about in HypnoBirthing class. They made each nurse or physician read the plan as soon as they walked into the room so they each knew she did not want to be asked to rate her pain.

“I wasn’t going to feel pain, so I didn’t want them asking about pain,” she said.

She also didn’t want to be connected to the monitor the entire time because she said the constant beeping would have taken away from her concentration and relaxation.

Her husband’s touch, on the other hand, kept her relaxed.

“We were very connected,” she said. “He was in tune with what I wanted and what I needed. In fact, we had some form of physical contact almost the entire time.”

He also repeated reaffirming phrases to help her stay focused.

When three hours seemed like 10 minutes, the self-described skeptic felt convinced.

“I was skeptical the minute we stepped into the hospital,” she said. “I said, ‘If I’m going to go through this and not feel pain, I’m going to be very surprised.’ And I was.”

Her physician, Dr. Angela Anderson, agreed.

“She had what she would describe – and I would have to agree with her – basically a pain-free labor,” Anderson said. “She was quiet as a mouse. She was so relaxed. She just progressed so quickly,”

One claim of HypnoBirthing is that the relaxation technique will allow the cervix to dilate faster.

Aldridge said it took only seven minutes from the time her water broke to the time her baby delivered himself.

“I had no choice in this situation,” she said. “I was so relaxed. The nurse commented after the fact, literally, the baby was born on his own.”

Anderson said while epidurals are safe and about 90 percent of patients in labor receive them, she called HypnoBirthing “harmless.”

“There’s no intervention,” Anderson said. “What could potentially go wrong?”

She said she would intervene only if necessary, citing cases of fetal distress, where she would need a Caesarean section, or if something was wrong with the baby’s heart.

Grgurich said another claim of HypnoBirthing is that the baby is more relaxed because the mother’s more relaxed.

“HypnoBirthing is not just about giving birth,” she said. “It’s about a lifestyle change.”

Deep breathing has come in useful for Aldridge, who said HypnoBirthing gave her a new way to deal with frustration and ease foot cramps.

Even her 9-year-old son has learned to use deep breathing to relax.

“When you start to take that breath and let your body relax by that deep breathing,” she said, “it’s that relaxing letting go of the tension that lets go of the pain.”

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