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  • Deep Relaxation Can Help Take the Fear – and Pain – out of Childbirth

Published on November 13, 2013

Deep Relaxation Can Help Take the Fear – and Pain – out of Childbirth


SIOUX FALLS (Nov. 1, 2013) - If you’re a first-time mom, you may have heard stories or have preconceived notions that inspire fear or at least apprehension about what the birth experience will be like.

If you let fear and tension take control, you go into the labor and delivery room with your body on alert, ready to go into the “fight or flight” mode, and can subconsciously fight the labor process rather than working with it, said Kaisa Winckler, a certified HypnoBirthing® instructor who teaches this method at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.

HypnoBirthing teaches moms to bring themselves into a state of deep relaxation and tune into their body. “It’s a different way of looking at birthing,” Winckler said. “Worldwide, the average time for delivery is four hours. In the United States, it is 12 hours.” Part of the reason may be the fears and unfounded beliefs that American women have toward labor and delivery.

Rather than taking yourself out of touch of the pain by focusing on distractions or taking pain medications, through HypnoBirthing, you feel very connected to your body and know what’s going on the whole time, said Winckler, who has given birth to three babies with this method. “Your body knows what to do during the delivery. It’s the mind that gets in the way.”

The advantage is being able to have a natural childbirth with minimal pain. The term “hypno” comes from the word hypnosis. “People tend to think of the shows when they bring people up on stage and cause them to do weird things,” Winckler said. Yet with HypnoBirthing, no one “hypnotizes” anyone.

“Using visualization, imagery and breathing techniques, you can learn to bring your body into a state of deep relaxation, and actually shut down the pain response,” Winckler said. HypnoBirthing is not is “mind control” or any loss of a conscious experience. “It’s just the opposite. You are fully aware, even though you are in a deeply relaxed state.”

The method involves visualization to scripts, read by a birthing partner – your husband, boyfriend, friend or family member. There are also relaxation CDs to listen to. People usually take the class about a month before their due date. “By practicing the techniques every day before your delivery, you condition your body to relax,” Winckler said. “By the time I gave birth to my third child, I didn’t need any scripts or CDs. It just came naturally.”

Participants of HypnoBirthing can learn how to control the body’s own natural anesthesia, Winckler said. When the body senses pain or stress, it releases endorphins to help the body cope. Endorphins interact with the opiate receptors in the brain to reduce the perception of pain, and act similarly to drugs like morphine and codeine. Deep relaxation causes the release of even more endorphins.

Some class participants fear that they won’t be able to follow through and go into a relaxed state when the big moment arrives. “Some people have a harder time making themselves relax than others. A lot has to do with what you put into it. You can’t just take the class and put it on hold until you go into labor. But if you put time into it every day, you won’t have a problem putting the techniques into play,” Winckler said.

These techniques also come in handy after the delivery. Relaxation, rather than tension, can make breastfeeding easier, and allow you to bond with and enjoy your baby. It can also help with getting to sleep and adjusting to your new role as parent.

“A delivery should be something we look forward to, not something to get overwith,” Winckler said. “It’s about celebrating life and bonding as a family.”

HypnoBirthing is just one of many prepared childbirth classes offered by Avera McKennan’s Women’s Center. To learn more, go to