John Teleska, M.Ed., NBCCH
Integrative Medicine Department, Clifton Springs Hospital &
Private Practice, Pittsford, NY (near Rochester)
Hypnosis for Birth
About John Teleska's practice
About John Teleska
Interview w/ Teleska
Teleska's hypno blog
Endorsements by colleagues
What is hypnosis?
What's it good for?
What will I experience?
How many sessions?
About hypnotic ability
...relief from anxiety
fears, and phobias
...birth & comfort
...recovering from trauma
(including sexual abuse)
...people with cancer
Evidence-based medical uses of hypnosis
Articles by John Teleska
Engaging hypnotic ability
Uses of hypnosis
Relief from migraines
Hypnosis and birth
About Milton Erickson
John Teleska's Music Site
Conception, gestation, and birth are part of the natural cycle of life. In this work, hypnotherapy engages the mother's natural, if unconscious, abilities to bring to term and give birth to her baby in the healthiest, most comfortable way possible. This isn't about fixing something that's broken—it's about supporting something natural and life giving—literally.
The expectant mother's concerns, including any anxieties and issues about comfort, are tended to during our sessions. As she learns self-hypnosis, she gains a tool which supports her comfort and confidence before, during, and after the birth experience. The father/birth partner, if available, learns specific ways to support the mother hypnotically accessing calm and comfort during the birthing process.
In over ten years of working with expectant parents, I find it remarkable that all of the expectant mothers, without exception, have easily learned hypnosis and used it to increase their sense of well-being. Perhaps this is because expectant moms are already tapped into their natural abilities to accomplish childbirth... hypnotherapy simply supports the natural process already under way.
[Since I wrote the above, a study published in July 2009 confirms that women, when pregnant, become more available to hypnotic engagement (Alexander, 2009).]
What studies say
According to the research, and in my experience of working with more than 30 expectant mothers, the minimum benefits one should expect from using hypnotherapy in support of birth include:
(Supporting research includes: Brown, 2007; McCarthy, 2001; Mehl-Madronna, 2004; see Bibliography, below.)
The feedback I receive after birth from the parents themselves (see client quotes throughout this page) and from the clinical professionals present at the birth supports the research findings, above.
I was able toexperience my son coming out,
and his first breath and his first cry.
I had tears, my husband had tears.
At that moment he came out,
I looked at my husband, he looked at me, and he said,
‘Maybe we should have another one.’"
—G., a client, recounting the moment of birthing
I find four to six sessions spaced a week or more apart is sufficient for most mothers to gain confidence in what is learned. The therapist uses the mother's experience between sessions to guide the work done in subsequent sessions.
Individual rather than group work
No one would claim that one type of dress, or one hairstyle, or one pair of eye glasses suit all pregnant women; neither does a standardized program of hypnotherapy. It must be tailored to fit the needs and learning styles of the individual who is pregnant.
Research shows that, while group hypnosis training produces good results (Harmon, 1990), in clinical practice, one-on-one therapy is even better (McCarthy, 2001). This matches my own experience. Years ago, with birth counselor and doula Sherry Sugrue Smith (see About birth doulas, below), I co-facilitated groups for expectant parents. Over time, I became aware that the specifics of an interaction with one couple might not be relevant for, or meet the needs of, the other couples present.
Each woman follows a different path...
...to her and her baby’s most positive and comfortable birth. Accordingly, I now work only with individual expectant mothers and their birth-partner. This allows more time to focus on the talents and abilities, as well as the concerns, of the individual.
—P., describing her use of self-hypnosis after birth
I sometimes refer my clients to also work with Sherry Sugrue Smith, birth counselor and birth doula. A doula works with the mother throughout her pregnancy—helping her develop a birth plan and providing comfort measures—and stays with her at the hospital during labor and delivery as her advocate and support.
Sherry and I have collaborated for over 10 years working with—and supporting—expectant parents in accomplishing the most comfortable, healthiest birth possible for Mother and Baby. With five children of her own and 25 years of experience in the role of doula, Sherry has solid relationships with area OB/GYN medical providers and staff and a wealth of birth related knowledge. She is founder of Doulas of ViaHealth. Sherry can be reached at (585) 358-8443 or by email at S2D3RD@yahoo.com.
Books on hypnobirthing for expectant parents
Marie Mongan developed a step-by-step program for teaching expectant parents to use hypnosis in support of birthing. In the late 90s I trained in her methods, and often find them useful for some of my clients. For more about her books go to hypnobirthing at amazon.com.
Bibliography: Hypnotherapy in support of birth
Copyright © 2014 by John Teleska. All rights reserved. Updated 7/7/16.