Jessica Alba “highly recommends” hynobirthing to expectant moms – a combination of self-hypnosis, meditation and extreme focus that’s supposed to get you through the delivery process. The 30-year-old actress, who’s pregnant with her second, says she used the technique when she delivered her daughter, Honor Marie, in 2009. “It just makes you chill,” she told US Weekly.
I’ll tell you what made me “chill” during my two deliveries: an epidural. Oh, sweet epidural.
Have a headache? Take a Tylenol. Having a baby? Get an epidural. That’s what I believe, anyway.
But kudos to Alba for doing her own thing. She reminds me of my friend Melissa, who took hypnotherapy classes when she pregnant with her son, now 2. Melissa says she worked with her partner on inducing sleep relaxation, as well self-hypnosis techniques and how to apply them to various stages of labor.
They also learned first-hand how pain is a perception of the brain – and that it can be overcome. In a normal, alert state, Melissa plunged her hand in ice water for as long as possible (she lasted mere seconds and whimpered in pain). Then, when she tried again under hypnosis, she says she could still feel the ice and it still hurt, but she focused, relaxed and breathed as directed. When she was brought back to alertness, she was shocked to find that her hand had been submerged for two to three times longer than she had guessed. In other words, it worked in managing pain.
Melissa ended up having an emergency c-section in the end. But hypnotherapy wasn’t a total waste: “I felt empowered… And I fell into a deep sleep each night of my pregnancy guided by hypnosis CDs, visualizing my baby, believing that I could bring new life gently into the world.”
It’s a laudable goal. For me, personally, and a good 99 percent of my friends, we’re all about the epidural. But I think that Alba’s on to something. The truth is, hypnotherapy would probably do most women, regardless of their birthing plan, a lot of good. In fact, mental relaxation techniques are being tested in a pilot scheme at select maternity wards in the north west of England. The whole point is to relax – drugs or not.