Pregnant? Plan it like a duchess

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While planning that baby shower, don’t forget to pencil in dates for hypnotherapy and a doula. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Did you know that four babies are born every single second on earth?

That’s 250 babies per minute, or 15,000 per hour. Or, 360,000 per day.

That’s a lot of new little people added to our planet.

Think about it: At this very hour, in just about every country on earth, droves of beautiful little babies are entering this world.

Some are born quietly and modestly, with little celebration and fanfare.

Others, the public follows much more closely. Celebrities, sports figures and politicians dominate our newspapers and social media feeds—and their pregnancies and childbirths are no different.

As a birth worker, I’m always interested in seeing how pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and babies are portrayed in news and entertainment.

Through media, for example, we know that Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum, while Serena Williams had a C-section and Chrissy Tiegen has been a big promoter of breastfeeding.

An article in Vanity Fair noted how Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, plans a natural birth without pain medication using hypno-birthing. She also will use a doula.

Do you doula?

In the past, we’ve explored the useful role that doulas play in the birth process.

According to the Evidence Based Birth organization and the Listening to Mothers–Pregnancy and Birth study, mothers benefit greatly by having additional support systems beyond hospital staff.

When a doula is involved in the birth process, an expectant mom is less likely to need a C-section, less likely to need medication for pain relief and less likely to need Pitocin.

Labor is also about 40 minutes shorter with a doula’s assistance and, overall, mothers with doulas are more satisfied with their birth experience, according to Evidence Based Birth.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has noted that, “in addition to regular nursing care, continuous one-to-one emotional support provided by support personnel, such as a doula, is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor.”

So it’s clear to see that a doula’s support is definitely worth considering.

But there’s another tool used to improve childbirth experiences: therapeutic hypnosis.

Hypnobirthing

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex—or as seen in the media, Harry and Meghan—are using hypnobirthing for their pregnancy.

The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate, also used hypnobirthing.

It’s essentially a way to help your mind and body relax. As a hypnobirthing practitioner, I enjoy teaching couples how to learn deep relaxation through various means.

I’ve heard one practitioner call hypnosis a way of altering your conscious awareness, while others have described it as the use of self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques to help feel better during labor.

Marie Mongan, founder of the Mongan Method HypnoBirthing, noted that “hypnobirthing is based on the belief that every woman has within her the power to call upon her natural maternal instinct to birth her babies in joy and comfort in a manner that most mirrors nature.”

Another popular childbirth education course involving hypnosis: hypnobabies.

Some patients use hypno-birthing during labor by listening to CDs or MP3s of a relaxation script. (We provide some of these recordings in childbirth classes.) Others have their doula or partner read different scripts to them.

Some put their ear buds in and listen to clips on Youtube.

Whatever the patient chooses, they are focused and relaxed, using their mind and a focus point.

Studies have shown the benefits of mindfulness and hypnotherapy during pregnancy.

An American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis study in 2017 revealed some of these benefits. The study examined the effects of hypnotherapy on women at various stages of pregnancy, including weeks 16, 20, 28 and 36.

Compared to those who did not undergo hypnotherapy, the experimental group required fewer narcotics during their pregnancies and they did not need an epidural during labor.

The hypnotherapy group also had more vaginal deliveries.

Similarly, a 2017 study in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth found that mindfulness training during childbirth can lead to improvements in birth outcomes and postpartum depression symptoms. The study also found that mindfulness can lessen the need for pain medication.

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