Glove Anaesthesia for Hypnobirthing

woollen gloved hands resting on top of each other to demonstrate the warming effect of glove anesthesia technique in hypnobirthing

Steph McGee

I’m a Trauma Informed Clinical Hypnotherapist on a mission to help. Hypnosis feels like a magic wand. But in truth? The real magic is you.

If hypnobirthing is the stuff of dreams. Glove Anaesthesia is the magic wand.

Imagine.

Making any part of your body pain free – during birth

WITH YOUR MIND!

describing how glove anaesthesia works, hypnotherapist steph mcgee wearing a white woollen jumper with black horizontal stripes eyes turned away from camera with a quizzical look
Sound too good to be true?

It’s not.

This deeply relaxing hypnotic technique is used for:

  • Acute pain (think medical procedures)
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic conditions such as migraines, fibromyalgia, arthritis
  • Symptoms of the menopause
  • Painful menstrual cramps
  • And it’s GOLD DUST for labour & birth!
So whether you are planning a natural birth…or a more medicalised birth.

Using this glove relaxation technique can help reduce pain.

But in my experience?

It stops labour pain from starting

WAHOOO!!!

 

newborn baby rising his right fist as if in celebration with his mum smiling and happy next to him having had a pain free birth using glove anaesthesia in hypnobirthing
Always consult your Medical Professional before starting Hypnobirthing, birth visualisations or meditations. 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 to quieten the mind & help support the natural production of your calming, pain relieving birth hormones:

  • Oxytocin
  • Prostaglandins
  • Endorphins
  • Melatonin

Hypnobirthing recognises that whilst medical intervention is sometimes helpful. Knowing the principles of normal birth can help everyone to achieve a better birth experience.

Because childbirth is both a physical experience and an emotional experience.

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

sliver heart locket containing two small keys, sitting on a plain white background that represents stilling the conscious mind at the heart of all hypnobirthing techniques
So at its heart.

Hypnobirthing teaches you to quieten the busy conscious mind during birth – creating a calm state of not thinking – just being.

Letting 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.

Feeling:

  • safe
  • relaxed
  • unobserved
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!

pregnant white woman with her hands on her bare pregnancy bump as she uses the glove anaesthesia hypnobirthing technique with a relaxing beach background behind her

 What is Glove Anaesthesia for birth?

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
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • General aches & pains of pregnancy

“No other natural bodily function is painful and childbirth should not be an exception” – Grantly Dick-Read

But is the Glove Relaxation technique different to Glove Anaesthesia?

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!

How?

brown pregnant woman with long black hair and wearing a white cropped top lifts her arms our and looks up as she asks how the glove relaxation technique helps birth
Pain is a multi-sensory experience!

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.”

pregnant woman, face out of shot, relaxing on a bed with pen and paper as she makes notes on how to practice hypnobirthing and glove anaesthesia

How do you do glove anaesthesia relaxation & hypnosis?

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. Positive suggestion – Your Hypnotherapist will guide you but this includes relaxation, feeling safe, focusing your attention and positive visualisation.
  4. 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 full autonomy and learn to do it yourself as well. See the video below for a demonstration!
  5. Transfer the sensation – move the numbness to wherever you anticipate pain during labour.
  6. 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.
  7. Practice – Is KEY. This powerful technique becomes more effective with practice. So whilst some or 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

  • Stroking your own hand
  • Putting on an invisible glove of anaesthesia
  • Birth partner stroking your hand
  • Placing your hand in an imaginary ice bucket
  • Creating warmth between your hand and the surface it rests upon
Here’s an example:

 

My Pain Free Birth

Pregnant with my first baby. I practiced my 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. I had no perception of pain relief. No 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 hypnosis during labour WORKED.

I watched tv. Then I rested in bed.

No pain. Just movement.

I could feel my body contracting. Nothing else.

I arrived at the Oxfordshire Cotswold Birth Centre fully dilated. Birth pool unavailable. But gave birth within the hour. No tearing. Drug free without pharmacological pain relief.

Conclusion

The Glove Technique is hands down (pun intended) my favourite method of hypnosis during childbirth.

Some hypnobirthing methods don’t teach it (When I asked WHY? I was told it was too ‘old fashioned’!!).

But in my book.

If something works.

And it’s powerful enough to perform surgery without drugs.

I want it in my birth plan!

CATEGORIES

Clinical Therapy

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Hypnotherapy

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