By Vicki Cheng RALEIGH NEWS & OBSERVER Posted June 29, 2005
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Lisa and Rusty Benton of Wilson, N.C., are expecting their first child Aug. 5. They're concentrating really, really hard on imagining a light switch in the back of Lisa's neck, so that she can hypnotically "switch off" any pain she might feel when the baby is born.Some couples see hypnosis as an alternative to epidurals, pain medication, or plain relaxation-and-breathing techniques to help them through labor and delivery.Classes that combine childbirth education with self-hypnosis are growing more popular, according to the creators of programs such as HypnoBirthing and Hypnobabies."It's OK to believe your birth is going to be enjoyable and comfortable," says Susan McClutchey, a certified Hypnobabies instructor leading three couples gathered in her Durham, N.C., living room. "You're reprogramming your mind and getting away from the naysayers."All suggestions that childbirth hurts should be excised from their vocabularies, she tells the couples. Instead of labor, the women will look forward to their "birthing time." Contractions, she says, will be referred to as "pressure waves.""Your mind is going to be told over and over, 'This is pressure. This is not pain,' " McClutchey tells the soon-to-be moms over the soothing sounds of the relaxation CD in the background.
"It's wonderful to have a tool that can reduce pain," says Sheryll Daniel, president of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. "Women who are hypnotically prepared do, in fact, ask for and use less pain medication than other women."Daniel suggests that consumers research their instructors' credentials carefully; well trained in hypnosis rather than sign on with instructors who might have taken only a weekend workshop.Lara Honos-Webb of the American Psychological Association says that, according to her review of the scientific literature, hypnosis during childbirth is generally safe and effective, with no side effects. Although labor and delivery might not be pain-free, it will more likely be easier, she says