Thursday, July 26, 2007

Body-Centered Hypnosis

Good morning, fellow coffee and tea drinkers (and anyone else for that matter).

As I mentioned in my last post, I contacted Dr. Gayle Peterson about her body-centered hypnosis for child-birth and she was kind enough to respond with a lot of helpful resources.

Basically, if I have understood her correctly, her method is a bit different from the traditional child-birthing hypnosis concept that involves disassociating the pain of labor. Since labor pains fluctuate in many ways, the dissociative method may not be the best solution for helping women with their pregnancy. (And sorry about this gentlemen, but as a female, if I were to have children, I would do so using natural child-birthing methods - midwife and all, and it seems like this body-centered approach would be perfect, perhaps heightening the experience as opposed to repressing it).

But rather then trying to explain this in my words, here are Dr. Peterson's:

Hypnobirthing is a method, like LaMaze, that is based on Grantley Dick Read’s premise that fear of labor pain, alone, causes tension in childbirth. This approach has flaws, both scientific and practical. The body-centered hypnosis that I developed since 1973 is based on research that shows that hypnosis that is associative, rather than dissociative can greatly assist women in their adaptation and coping with labor, specifically targeting a woman's unique needs. Women should not be slotted into “one size fits all” methods.

Dick Read’s approach was not a scientific one and represents an overly simplistic application of neurophysiology. Tension is not only related to the fear of pain in childbirth, but to many other factors which may impinge upon women at the time of her transition into motherhood.
Body-centered hypnosis aimed at addressing a woman’s unique concerns about her labor and transition to motherhood, statistically decreases the need for medication, even in those few cases in which interventions, such as pitocin, are necessary.

I use body-centered hypnosis to decrease tension about labor and birth and to resolve fears about the upcoming psychological transition to motherhood. This hypnosis is unique to each woman and is not a mass produced method. I support the individual woman in her process. It is not my goal that childbirth should be a certain way, natural or not, painful or not. Instead, my hope is to support the woman where she is in the context of her family history and culture. The result of this kind of support can be empowerment.

An authentic approach to childbirth must forgo ideas about how women should birth, and embrace, instead, a woman’s own desires. No method should dictate a woman’s experience or pressure her to believe based on another’s perspective. Instead it should be flexible enough to meet her individual needs and support her growth.

Lastly, we should keep in mind that any method is only as good as its failures. Exploring the failures of “hypnobirthing” will yield valuable insight into what is missing for women, rather than interpret their failures as not living up to the model requiring one right way to “succeed” at childbirth.

Gayle Peterson, PhD

Many thanks to Dr. Peterson for responding to my request. If you would like to learn more about the process and her methods, visit her website at .

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