Many Eastern religions and cultures use deep meditation as a form of self-hypnosis to attain enlightenment and serenity. This method of relaxation and focus has also helped many women to remain in control and calm during childbirth, thereby decreasing their pain and speeding their labor.
There is a significant difference between an entertaining hypnotist and a medical hypnotherapist. Hypnosis is intense, focused concentration with partial or complete unawareness of peripheral activity. Entertainment-quality hypnosis depends greatly on a person's openness to peer pressure and suggestion. A hypnotherapist, on the other hand, develops a relationship with a person in order to deepen their hypnosis practice and truly help the individual tap into their unconscious for therapeutic purposes.
Self-hypnosis is very similar to meditation. Both require practice to effectively master and they both increase alpha brain waves, which promote relaxation. The primary difference between the two is that the individual usually counts down into and out of the state of hypnosis. Self-hypnosis can be a powerful tool if used properly. However, some people may have a hard time letting go and losing control. In these cases, a trained hypnotist may be necessary to reach a hypnotized state.
Hypnosis has been shown to help people quit smoking, alleviate pain, minimize anxiety and nausea, promote relaxation, and to interrupt an intense emotional state. Contrary to popular belief, a state of hypnosis is not a state of unawareness or sleep. If you've ever been engrossed in a good book to such a degree that you are completely unaware of your surroundings, then you have been in a state of hypnosis. Nothing can be done to you without your consent, it is simply a shutting down of your conscious mind in order to tap into you unconscious or subconscious.
The first step in practicing self-hypnosis for labor begins before labor ever begins. It requires you let go of the common perception that childbirth is the most painful process a woman ever experiences. The idea - the reality - that should be implanted in your mind is that labor and delivery is perfectly natural and that your body is designed to release hormones to reduce pain. A confident and relaxed approach to childbirth can result in an empowering and beautiful experience.
Many women who have used hypnosis during labor claim to have a "pain free" experience. This is not a guarantee but an absolute possibility. In order for you to recognize the sensation of pain, your brain has to process it. During hypnosis, the brain is able to identify a painful sensation and choose not to register it as a threat or something that needs alleviating. This can actually reduce or block the painful sensation. It also allows you to relax instead of tensing up in fear, which only results in more pain. The outcome truly depends on the individual.
You might feel better going to a Hypnobirthing expert or hypnotherapist who specializes in labor and delivery to help you during your birthing experience. Ask your midwife, doula or doctor for recommendations.
Even if you aren't planning a drug-free birthing experience, you can benefit from self-hypnosis techniques anytime you must endure an uncomfortable or stressful situation, whether you are getting a tooth pulled or trying to quit smoking.