By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Jan. 28, 2012.
When Anissa Moussi drove to the hospital for her childbirth, she was so calm, so relaxed, the nurses were convinced she had come early.
You are not even ready yet, they told her.
But Moussi knew she was in deep labour, only she wasn’t screaming or writhing in pain, the usual image attached to child birth.
“I was simply not scared of giving birth,” she said.
That wasn’t always the case; in fact, she was scared of C-section when she first discovered she was pregnant.
“You have the images in the media about child birth that are terrifying,” she said.
Then, she met Jennifer King, a hypnotherapist in Squamish, who helped her erase the words ‘fear’, ‘scared’, and ‘terrifying’ and replace them with a singular sentiment for child birth.
And that’s the core of birthing hypnotherapy: the peeling away of fear and anxiety by simply claiming the body and the mind for yourself.
But hypnosis often conjures images of control, not of calm.
So, in case you are wondering, King doesn’t sit in a half-lit room, casting the spell of black magic on pregnant women. No, she doesn’t trick them into doing goofy things either.
What she does is train pregnant women—and their spouses—to access their subconscious, and relax and focus it when the moment of child birth comes.
“Hypnosis is a state where your body and mind are extremely relaxed and yet the mind is highly aware and focused,” King explains.
To achieve that state, King gives would-be-moms verbal and visual clues in hypnotherapy sessions that allow women to go deep into their subconscious.
Another goal of these sessions, which start usually at the 30th week of pregnancy, is to train women for hypno-anesthesia.
Hypno-anesthesia is a state of calm attained not through heavy sedatives, but by practiced cue which allows the body, and particularly the uterus, to relax for a smooth birth.
The earliest use of hypno-anesthesia can be traced to India in 1845, although it’s being used now in surgical operations as an acceptable alternative to painkillers and sedatives.
Women in King’s class also learn to ‘move’ their hypno-anasthesia through various body parts to relieve themselves of discomfort and stress.
“It’s all about releasing fear and stress by believing in the power of your own body,” she says.
Suzie Beliveau and Adam Hart joined the hypnotherapy class when Suzie was pregnant with daughter, Juliette.
Hart, a food coach, said they enjoyed the session.
“You are never under a spell, but a visual clue is trying to anchor you with soft guidance,” he said.
Hart said the experience gave him an understanding of the birthing process and how important a role language and visual clues can play in making the mind and body relaxed.
Anissa Moussi recalls one such session, when King helped her imagine a light going down her body, relaxing her as it trickled down.
As the session progressed, she was pinched to find the state of hypnosis she was in.
“I never felt it,” Moussi says.