I promise this is about hypnobirthing, but I need to explain something amazing first…
When we talk ‘pain relief’ options, analgesia is the reduction of pain and anaesthesia is a complete loss of sensation i.e. no pain!
So when you hear that HYPNOBIRTHING includes an anaesthesia technique? It’s normal to wonder how on earth a state of hypnosis (or deep relaxation) can be powerful enough to stop contractions being painful?
After all – the mind can’t make birth pain free can it?
Well yes. YES IT CAN.
And while no one can ever make you any promises?..epidurals have been know to only work on one side ya’ll!
If hypnobirthing feels like the stuff of dreams?
Glove Anaesthesia could be your magic wand!
So imagine, making any part of your body pain free, when you give birth. And doing it with the power of your mind!
Sound too good to be true?
The glove anaesthesia technique is used for:
- Acute pain (think medical & dental procedures)
- Chronic pain
- Chronic conditions such as migraines, fibromyalgia, arthritis
- Symptoms of the menopause such as muscle pain & headaches
- Painful menstrual cramps
- And it’s GOLD DUST for labour & birth!
A quick history of childbirth anaesthesia!
Childbirth Anaesthesia (aka Hypnoanesthesia and the Glove Technique) is a type of self-hypnosis that can help labour pains.
In the early 20th Centhury, Obstetrician Joseph DeLee claimed that hypnosis was the only risk-free childbirth anesthetic. Although we now that people with certain conditions, including psychosis, should avoid hypnosis & hypnobirthing.
Obstetrician William Kroger (who was resuscitated at birth by DeLee!) was one of the most passionate early advocates of birth hypnosis. In 1937 he began publishing on psychosomatic gynaecology and was teaching hypnosis to medics just 3 years later.
Kroger’s work is in part, credited for the British Medical Association’s 1955 decision to formally approve hypnosis as a legitimate treatment for pain and childbirth and recommending that all physicians receive training in hypnosis.
Common anaesthesia techniques include:
- Glove anaesthesia: Pretending the hand is numb and placing it upon a painful region to remove the sensation there.
- Time distortion: Hypnosis can change time perspective so periods of pain can feel much shorter and periods of being pain free can feel longer.
- Pain transformation: Reframing normal labour sensations as a non-threatening, acceptable sensations such as pressure or muscle tightenings.
So whether you are planning a natural birth…or a more medicalised birth?
The glove relaxation technique is a useful tool for pain.
And from my own birth experiences?
It can even stop labour pain from starting
Always consult your Medical Professional before starting Hypnobirthing, birth meditations, mindfuness or visualisations – even if you are learning hypnobirthing on your own. Hypnobirthing might not be suitable for people with certain conditions.
But what is Hypnobirthing?
Whether you are in your first trimester or third trimester.
Let’s start with basics:
Hypnobirthing is a birth preparation method.
It promotes relaxation, meditation and birth hypnosis (as well as birth smarts & empowerment!) to help quieten the mind, producing calming theta brain waves, instead of ‘busy’ beta brain waves. All of which helps support the natural flow of labour and the production of your calming and pain relieving birth hormones:
However you choose to do it, childbirth is a physical and emotional experience so hypnobirthing helps with natural birth, medicalised birth and medical interventions.
And giving birth is a deeply private experience.
“When you are in hard labor, remember that the length of labor is usually proportionate to the number of people around” – Michel Odent
So at its heart, Hypnobirthing teaches you to quieten the busy conscious mind when you give birth – creating a calm state of BEING rather than DOING.
This helps you to let go of unhelpful conscious & subconscious fears or worries. Filling both the conscious & unconscious mind with confidence, positive expectation and birth positivity. So you can be calm, relaxed and comfortable.
Whether you are birthing naturally or with medical support.
Think of Hypnobirthing is a state of mind and body. That takes practice!
If you’d like to learn more about what’s involved in Hypnobirthing? Read my blog What do I need to practice for Hypnobirthing? and save it on Pinterest!
What is Glove Anaesthesia for birth?
Often described as the Hypnobirthing Glove technique (or stroking relaxation) Glove Anaesthesia (GA) is a powerful but simple method for transferring a comfortable, numb sensation to any part of the body and letting go of unnecessary pain, tension or discomfort.
You are taught to imagine that your hands are becoming comfortable and gently anaesthetised. Then you can transfer that comfortable numbness to wherever you most want it – the uterine muscles being most popular!
This technique is helpful for:
- Latent labour
- Active Labour
- Crowning & birth
- Back aches
- Uterine cramps
- General aches & pains of pregnancy
“No other natural bodily function is painful and childbirth should not be an exception” – Grantly Dick-Read
Is the Glove Relaxation technique different to Glove Anaesthesia?
Yes, a relaxation is different to hypnosis.
Glove relaxation is available for people teaching themselves hypnobirthing. And glove relaxation is usually taught by hypnobirthing teachers who aren’t qualified hypnotherapists.
The Glove Hypnosis and Glove of Endorphins are usually taught 1:1 with a hypnotherapist (like me) so that your technique it is 100% bespoke to you and your perceptions of a pain free state. And if doing hypnobirthing classes with a Hypnotherapist (like me) you will learn a technique that is a good fit for everyone.
“A woman in birth is at once her most powerful, and most vulnerable. But any woman who has birthed unhindered understands that we are stronger than we know” – Marcie Macari
How does the Glove Technique work?
The science behind the Glove Technique for birth:
All mammals have the ability to modulate pain. Pain modulation is the process in which the body alters a pain message (or warning message) as it is transmitted along the pain pathway. Based on a number of factors, the brain can turn pain levels up or down. And can also explain why the activation of pain neurons and the sensory experience of pain can differ.
So two people experiencing the same kind of birth can feel very differently in terms of pain – one suffering and the other feeling comfortable!
So when the body sends the brain a warning message that there ‘is or might’ be tissue damage? The brain sends back a response. And this pain response is based on sight, sound, smell and taste.
But us humans?
Humans have long memories, imagination and the ability to ‘predict’ the future – which can increase pain even more.
So thanks to fear.
You can literally THINK your way into pain!
It’s why Hypnobirthing recommends reframing past birth traumas, releasing birth fears, building birth confidence and anticipating a positive birth experience.
As well as quietening the mind!
“Pain relies on context” – Professor Lorimer Moseley
So getting really geeky:
A PubMed review of hypnotherapy in management acknowledged that ” Hypnosis in obstetrics (has been) available for more than one hundred years, but the development of inhalational anesthetic and chemotherapy agents and anesthesia drugs pending the 19th century induced the decrement of its application. “
And a 2004 article in the British Journal of Anaesthesia says:
“The anterior cingulate gyrus has been demonstrated to be one of the sites in the brain affected by hypnotic modulation of pain. This suppression of neural activity, between the sensory cortex and the amygdala—limbic system, appears to inhibit the emotional interpretation of sensations such as pain.”
How do you do glove anaesthesia relaxation & hypnosis?
- Start with the hand – Studies have shown that the torso (so head and core body) are the hardest parts to mentally anaesthetise. But by starting with the hand, the numbness can be easily transferred to the body. Yay!
- Hot or Cold – Cold is widely used in medical hypnosis but it’s easy to understand why warm is the more popular choice for uterine contractions.
- Positive suggestion – Your Hypnotherapist will guide you but this includes relaxation, feeling safe, focusing your attention and positive visualisation.
- Touch anchor – Sometimes called stroking relaxation or gentle touch. The traditional technique is to literally imagine putting on a glove of anaesthesia. Stroking or touching the hand then develops a hypnobirthing touch anchor between the touch and your pain free meditative state. The touch can be your birth partner or your hypnotherapist. You could even ask your Midwife. But my preference – keep your autonomy & learn to use the glove technique on yourself as well. See the video below for a demonstration of the technique in practice…
- Transfer the sensation – move the numbness to wherever you anticipate pain during labour.
- Lift the numbness – either set yourself a time limit. Or use one of the techniques your teacher has taught to remove the numbness when you no longer need it – like wiggling your fingers or stroking your hand the opposite way.
- Practice – Is KEY. This powerful technique becomes more effective with practice. So whilst some of your most important Hypnobirthing Techniques don’t need regular practice. And your pain techniques might be your best friends! For best results – set yourself a hypnobirthing practice routine and try not to leave it to 37 weeks!
Most popular techniques to induce numbness in birth
- Putting on an invisible glove of anaesthesia
- Birth partner stroking your hand
- Stroking your own hand
- Placing your hand in an imaginary ice bucket
- Creating warmth between your hand and the surface it rests upon
- Walking into the sea relaxation (less effective but still helpful)
Here’s an example:
How I had a pain free birth with Glove Anaesthesia
Pregnant with my first baby, I practiced the cold hands technique (as I liked to call it!) every day from 33 weeks pregnant to 41+5.
I wasn’t convinced that my hypnosis practice was doing anything and I didn’t think it was giving me a perception of pain relief. There was no obvious numbness and I couldn’t imagine how this weird technique would help with the alleviation of pain.
I’m hard to convince on anything unless I know the WHY – It’s what makes my Hypnobirthing Classes so good!
But I practised glove hypnosis every day and my glove hypnosis during labour WORKED!
I watched tv, then I rested in bed.
Feeling no pain, just movement.
I could feel my body contracting and nothing else.
I arrived at the Oxfordshire Cotswold Birth Centre fully dilated having already been told that their birth pool was unavailable (someone was in it).
But even without the water birth I so desperately wanted, I gave birth within the hour, and completely drug free.
The Glove Technique is hands down (pun intended) my favourite hypnobirthing technique.
And while some hypnobirthing methods don’t teach it (I asked and was told it was ‘too old fashioned’!)…
In my book?
If something works.
And it’s powerful enough to perform surgery without drugs?
YOU NEED IT IN YOUR BIRTH PLAN!
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