"No other natural bodily function is painful and childbirth should not be an exception"
Dr Grantly Dick Read
The History of Hypnobirth
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The concept of hypnosis in childbirth originates from the work of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read. The British obstetrician began his quest to investigate the effects of fear of childbirth following an experience with a poor woman living in the slums of the London Docks, who had refused pain relief during childbirth.
Following the birth, the doctor asked for the reasoning for her refusal to which she replied; “It didn’t hurt. It wasn’t meant to, was it doctor?”
Dick-Read’s findings were published in 1993 in a book titled Natural Childbirth, in which he claimed that excessive pain in labour results from muscular tension arising from fear of the birth process. When fear and anxiety are present during labour, the body naturally alerts the sympathetic nervous system which triggers the fight, flight or freeze response. This gives rise to tension within the muscles of the uterus, therefore inhibiting the natural harmonious design of the uterine muscles during childbirth, which is what often causes pain and discomfort in labour.
Dick-Read discovered that approximately 95% of women suffer from his founded Fear-Tension-Pain Syndrome of childbirth. He therefore proposed that pregnant women attend a course to enable them to learn more about the birth process and develop breathing techniques and relaxation exercises to use during labour.
Numerous educational programmes have been developed based on the fundamental findings of Dick-Read, and are often referred to as Hypnobirthing Programmes. Hypnobirthing aims to reduce the fear of childbirth by giving positive suggestions to women that free them from any social and/or cultural conditioning that they may have received. The positive suggestions are usually given in the form of guided imagery which allows a woman to visualise her body working as nature intended during the birthing process.
Dr Grantly Dick Read