Fuller's suggestions are adapted from the work of Werner, Schauble and Knudson (1982). They use a verbal conditioning technique to (1) overcome fear of delivery with positive feelings that reframe maternity as a special experience, (2) substitute the concept of contraction for pain, and (3) presumably reduce the excitability of the cortex through psychological sedation. You are referred to Werner's original article for further details concerning the rationale for these suggestions. (Ed.)
In the hypnoreflexogenous technique you may notice that we exalt maternity and enliven you with the emotion which the happy waiting and the precious moment of birth represent. You, through your own conscious and active participation, can maintain this emotion throughout labor. Each contraction can be considered as a pleasing occurrence which draws you constantly nearer to the goal of delivery, closer and closer — with you being able to actually see your baby and hold your baby, because a contraction is a motor part necessary in order for you to have your baby.
I want you to fully understand that this method works even for women who have had previous bad experiences and who may believe that drugs and anesthesia are the only ways to stop pain. You have the chance to understand that at any time during labor and delivery, you can readily have whatever medication you want, when you want it. This serves to help overcome your past fears. Probably medication will not be necessary, and if required will be only a small amount. In regard to the time of onset of labor, the uterus does not break the harmonious, hypnotic, relaxing calm of your body. When labor begins you will experience little or no discomfort. You may ask yourself, or your doctor, whether you may be in labor; the important thing is this: Your only symptoms are the natural contractions manifested only by periodic hardening of your womb. In some cases, where a complete blocking of discomfort is not obtained, women find discomfort so distributed that it is felt mainly at the level of the lower back as a discomfort similar to that during your period, or a heavy aching in both thighs. The back and upper thigh discomfort stops quickly and spontaneously when the dilation of the cervix is complete. You may look forward to this because it is a positive sign, indicating that the time of delivery is near.
After delivery you may vividly remember these words: "In the next few days you will pass your water without being catheteri/ed; you will move your bowels without enemas; you will have a good appetite; the food will appeal to you; the nursing staff will appeal to you; you may have a few sutures, but they are not going to bother you — you will hardly know that they are there; the entire stay in the hospital will seem like a pleasant vacation." The effectiveness of your calm, fearlessness, motivation and training provided your child with the opportunity to be born without feeling any guilt for causing you any pain during labor and delivery.
You may benefit by entering hypnosis at some point —it is your right, your privilege to do so, if you wish, to stay in this state of pleasant expectation throughout labor and delivery. However, you will probably not need to enter hypnosis during labor, since you will not be uncomfortable. During the training sessions, you are being taught three techniques which produce the absence of pain and discomfort. First, you should understand and really understand that if at any time during labor or delivery you experience discomfort from an intense contraction of the uterus, automatically, without thinking, you will lapse into the deepest hypnotic state you can attain and remain in it as long as the contraction lasts, after which you will be completely comfortable again. Or, if the labor has gone on for quite a while and you would like a little nap, you may remain in the hypnotic state through several contractions or even through the rest of the labor and delivery.
Second, you can use the technique of allowing yourself to go to a pleasant place in your mind's eye. Really have a sense that you are there, that you are seeing the things that you see there, you are feeling the things that you feel there, you are hearing the things that you usually hear when you are at this place, enjoying yourself, being pleasant and comfortable. Continue to fully experience this and while you are there you may notice that you're noticing different sensations while you are in this place, this comfortable, pleasant, tranquil place where you can relax. While you are at this place nothing seems to bother you, you are just enjoying the moment there.
Third, why not learn to use a technique whereby you divide your body into two parts, an upper and a lower half. Now, I want you to include the uterus in the lower half. When you have done this, then you can awaken the upper half and learn to permit the lower half to remain asleep. . . . You may use these techniques in any stage of labor but usually, if needed at all, it will be at the end of the first stage for the lower backache type discomfort; during the second stage to push the baby out or to produce pain control for an episiotomy or any tear that might have occurred. The fact is you may not find it necessary to use any of these techniques at all. Now emphasis throughout hypnosis training in obstetrics is that you are not preparing to undergo a surgical procedure, but you are preparing to perform a normal, natural, physiological act.
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Hypnosis is a capital instrument for relaxation and alleviating stress. It helps calm down both the brain and body, giving a useful rest. All the same it can be rather costly to hire a clinical hypnotherapist, and we might not always want one around when we would like to destress.