Kate Middleton's Hypnotic Birth
As the royal due date approaches, we're hearing word that Kate may go the hypnobirthing route. But what is it exactly?
If the reports are true, the royal birth will not be accompanied by a royal epidural. As she preps for her July due date, rumor has it that Kate Middleton plans to forgo the use of pain medications during delivery in favor of hypnobirthing, an all-natural pain relief method in which expectant moms practice deep breathing, positive visualization, and other self-hypnosis techniques to stay calm and comfortable during childbirth.
Does it work? Hypnobirthing is based on the principle that anxiety and fear are largely responsible for making women’s labors longer and more painful than they need to be. As Marie Mongan, the mom who created the HypnoBirthing method decades ago after an unfulfilling birth experience using heavy pain meds, explains, “pain is caused by constrictor hormones, created by fear… when women learn [how] to release fear, the body is able to release endorphins—the feel good hormones.”
According to Mongan, releasing fear and anxiety can be accomplished when women are able to enter a light self-hypnotic trance. “Rather than exhausting, shallow breathing and the distraction techniques of typical ‘prepared childbirth’ programs,” says Mongan, “Hypnobirthing parents learn deep abdominal breathing and total relaxation, enabling the laboring mother to work in harmony with her body and her baby. This allows her to achieve a shorter and more comfortable labor for herself and baby.”
Being able to pull this off, however, takes practice. Kate Middleton is reportedly studying up on the method on her own, but hypnobirthing classes and even private lessons in the method are widely available.
What should Kate expect? Some moms who’ve already used hypnobirthing in their own natural births say the “mind over matter” approach to managing labor pain really is fit for a queen, or in this case, a duchess.
“First of all, no one is standing over you swinging a watch, and no one is going to command you to do the chicken dance,” says Shelly Brand, a 35-year-old mom of two from El Paso, Texas, who used Mongan’s hypnobirthing technique for both of her births.
“To prepare, you and your partner [that means you, Wills!] take a class that teaches you how to enter a state of deep relaxation,” she explains. “Your partner learns certain words and phrases that he can say to prompt you to deepen your breathing, relax your muscles, and visualize yourself letting go. You practice these at home until you know what it feels like to enter this state of feeling extremely calm and relaxed. I found that the level of hypnosis you reach is not so deep that you are unaware of your surroundings”
When the big day arrives, Brand says that, based on her experiences, self-hypnosis doesn’t take away all the pain, but it definitely makes it more manageable.
“I would just want Kate to know up front that she’s probably going to feel some pain, but if she can really let go, there’s this incredible moment when you can feel your body’s strength with every surge. Once you get there, it is no longer labor pain, but labor power… something that’s much easier to handle!”
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