phobia is a high anxiety response such as fear or panic to an object (e.g.
snakes), a situation (e.g. public speaking) or even a thought (e.g. if the
plane hits turbulence I’ll panic).
and phobias are learned responses that are formed as an imprint by the part of
our brain designed to keep us safe. When it perceives an experience to be
a threat it learns to create fear and anxiety symptoms next time we encounter a
similar situation with the aim of acting as a warning system to keep us
safe. All of this happens outside our conscious awareness – it has to
because if you are in a situation that your survival depends on quick action,
you don’t have time to consciously ponder your options, you need to be
mobilised for action (i.e. fight or flight).
this process means we can learn to have an out of proportion response to things
or situations. Fortunately because phobias are learned, when you access
the part of your brain that is responsible for creating the phobic imprint you
can just as easily unlearn the phobia.
here’s part one of the transcript from my Birth Hypnosis podcast interview
with Natalie Cutler-Welsh on If Only They’d Told Me, which includes us talking
Hey, it’s so great to have you here in the studio. This is something that
I’ve been wanting to cover for a while so I am so pleased that we are going to
talk today about birth hypnosis. So can you start off by telling people a
little bit about you and how you help people.
Great. We’ll I am a Clinical Hypnotherapist and my main areas of
specialty, other than helping people prepare for a gentle and relaxed
childbirth, I also work with people to help them and I work with people to
help them with their fertility, whether naturally or working alongside assisted
reproductive technologies like IVF.
Ooh, you talk quicker than I do! My gosh! That’s so, it’s amazing.
I personally have never done any hypnosis but I know when I was pregnant
with number one and number two I had friends who did hypnosis and they really
raved about it so I’m really excited today to be talking a bit more detail
about what exactly it is and how the process works. Because I know
it can have a huge impact for people.
We’ll I actually used to be in the corporate world doing Online Marketing
before the advent of Facebook. But through to my own health experience I
had to come home from London and I explored hypnotherapy as a way to help with
the pain management and healing. Which I found fascinating, the whole
mind-body thing, but it wasn’t actually until I went across to Australia and
had a hypnotherapy session around my snake phobia that really cemented it to me
– if I could get up close and personal to a snake, what else could hypnotherapy
do? So that’s what kind of started me on this journey. So I
retrained, got my Diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy, and also did the Birth and
Fertility Hypnosis training on top of that.
Yeah and that’s amazing.
say that 60% of my clients is Birth Hypnosis and I’m really passionate about it
– that’s the area I love. I love working with birth clients as it’s such
a special time to be part of their lives and helping empower someone to have a
birth experience that is what they want and how they’d like it to go rather
than feeling anxious and fearful. Because where there’s, let’s be honest,
Nat, most people believe birth has got to be painful, because where there’s
tension and anxiety in the body there is pain. But, if you can learn how
to relax yourself and get rid of that old conditioning about how birth has to
be painful, then birth can actually be a pleasant experience; Mother Nature
designed us quite efficiently to do birthing.
think that when I went into my first labour I had the mindset of, like, this is
going to be painful but it’s going to be good pain because I’m getting a baby.
It’s not that I just had an accident and my leg is bleeding or something;
you know, its good pain (if there is such a thing as good pain or bad pain).
way my clients (and I) talk about it: so pain is a concept and what we do is we
work with that and instead of feeling ‘pain’ they feel ‘sensations’. And
the ‘intensity’; sometimes they describe the last kind of phase – most of them
are quite surprised when they get to the last phase of intensity, especially if
they’ve come to see me because their first birth didn’t go the way they wanted
it to go and they want to be more relaxed about their second birth – so they
know what they’re lined up for and when they say the baby is crowning they’re
kind of like, “Hold on a second! I’m supposed to have a few hours ahead
of me, aren’t I?” So they’re quite surprised how far they’ve progressed
without feeling what they were expecting to feel, because they’ve realised from
the first time what that was like.
we will get into a case study later on about somebody who had a traumatic birth
and then got pregnant again and was a bit nervous about going through the next
certainly. I worked last year with a lady, a mum of two preschoolers, and
she’s had an intense water phobia from a child herself. She was really
concerned, now her kiddies were starting to get a little bit older, they’d know
she was too scared to get in the water, and she was scared they’d learn that
phobia from her because phobias can be learnt. We had 3 sessions. At the
end of those 3 sessions she could walk alongside the waterfront.
Previously walking alongside the waterfront she’d have to walk on the
other side of the footpath, not look at the water, and she’d have heart
palpitations, she’d be sweating, she’d be dizzy, and in her words she’d be ‘a
crazy mess’. We had the 3 sessions in winter: this summer she said
to me that she enjoyed a holiday up North where they spent lots of time
in the pool with kids.
did, yeah! She loves water now, she has no qualms about going in
the water, she has no symptoms, no panic or phobia symptoms being around water
With that experience, did she have a bad experience and that’s why she’s scared
And also, when you were helping her, was there water involved, or no?
Like, did you actually go to water or put her hand in a cup or something?
I mean, she could obviously drink glasses of water – it was just being
beside a body of water, whether it be a pool, a lake. As a teenager
growing up she couldn’t enjoy pool parties with her friends, or the beach.
Yes, very limiting.
in her words, very freeing to be free of it.
Yeah. And also I mean, New Zealand obviously – lots of water, a big
way of life and with kids, to be able to embrace that and enjoy all those
memories instead of trying to not encounter water at all.
can now give her kids the childhood experience she didn’t have, because she was
scared of the water.
that’s so amazing. It’s amazing to be able to facilitate those
So that concludes part 1. In we talk more in depth about birth hypnosis – how it can help if want a more relaxed experience or if you’re anxious about childbirth, or if you’ve had a previously traumatic childbirth experience and are really scared at the prospect of going through it all again. In part 3 we talk a bit more about birth hypnosis, and how hypnosis can help with fertility.