Hypnobirthing tackles fear, pain Fernandina: Center teaches relaxation

By Amelia A. Hart, Nassau Neighbors staff writer June 12, 2002 Publication: The Florida Times-Union

The woman's face in the video is calm and clear, as if she's momentarily slipped into a cat nap.

"She's having a contraction," said Rozlyn Warren, a hypnotherapist at A New Dawn Hypnosis Center in Fernandina Beach. The video is of a woman giving birth using an innovative method called hypnobirthing. Warren and Dawn Grant, owner of the center, were certified in April to teach women self-relaxation techniques to relieve the pain and fear commonly associated with the act of giving birth. Now, they're want to bring "hypnobirthing" to Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. The center held a free seminar June 3, and Warren said one couple has signed up for a series of hypnobirthing classes that will begin June 17. "It's about relaxation," Warren said. "The one thing that separates us from any other childbirth program is we come from the angle that you don't have to have pain to have a baby." The word "hypnobirthing" was coined in the late 1980s by Marie Mongan, who founded The Hypnobirthing Institute. The technique combines the concept of self-hypnosis, in which deep states of relaxation are self-induced, with that of natural childbirth, which advocates minimal medical intervention during labor. Warren and Grant said hypnobirthing helps women get back to the original idea of childbirth as a natural and pain-free event. Cultural bias has built up over the centuries that having a baby will be the most painful thing a woman will ever experience, they said. It's an idea fostered not only in countless movies and TV shows, which show women straining and screaming during delivery, but also by women themselves, Warren said. "We're told the terror of our mother's birth tale," she said. "And when it comes time for labor, the muscles are so tight because we're afraid, the baby's hitting a brick wall, and then, one more time, we have a painful birth story." Even the traditional language of childbirth is fraught with the concepts of process and pain, they said. Hypnobirthing practitioners encourage expectant mothers to change their vocabulary as part of the program. The language of hypnobirthing uses surge or wave instead of contraction, birthing instead of delivery and breathing down instead of pushing. Grant said hypnobirthing focuses on helping expectant mothers get beyond their fears and understand birth as a natural function. "Everything we teach reinforces that this is why their body was made, this is what their body was made to do," Grant said. The expectant mothers are taught self-hypnosis techniques, such as visualization, relaxation and breathing. They are not in a trance or asleep. They also learn to use their bodies' own natural pain-killing abilities. For example, a light massage technique done by birthing partners raises goosebumps. That releases endorphins, which are natural pain-relievers, Grant said. Hypnobirthing advocates say the practice benefits both mother and baby by reducing the stress and strain on both. The technique also reduces the need for drugs and other medical interventions. While Warren and Grant said they would like to be present during a hypnobirth, they don't have to be. Ultimately, the birth should be what each woman and her partner wants it to be, they said. "It's not a mystery," Grant said. "It's very simple because you're using things that are already in your mind and body."

Staff writer Amelia A. Hart can be reached at (904) 261-7606, extension 107, or via e-mail at ahart@jacksonville.com.

For more information about hypnobirthing, visit Jacksonville.com, keyword hypnobirthing.

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