Our bodies have always been capable of birthing and breastfeeding but that doesn’t mean we are instinctively prepared for them in our modern world. Most of us did not grow up watching our moms, aunts, and sisters go through these life events so we don’t know what to expect. More and more women today are choosing a back-to-basics approach to birth and infant feeding. HypnoBirthing® is a beacon for women wanting something different for their mothering experience.
Many women who choose HypnoBirthing also want to breastfeed their babies. This blog post will go over some information about why training your brain with HypnoBirthing helps with breastfeeding and leads to a seamless postpartum phase, or “fourth trimester”.
What is HypnoBirthing?
HypnoBirthing® is a technique and philosophy developed by Marie Mongan for women to have more comfortable and positive birthing experiences. Hypnosis has a stigma for putting people in a state of unconsciousness where they have no control over themselves. In the self-hypnosis HypnoBirthing model, hypnosis is explained as a focused state of mind with complete control. Your mind goes into states of hypnosis daily when you’re reading a good book or zoned out watching a movie. Listening to the HypnoBirthing tracks and suggestions helps you get into a similarly relaxed and focused state. The messages you listen to tell your brain how comfortable and exciting the birth process will be. The more you hear the suggestions in an open, non-judgemental state of mind, the more they will become your default thoughts.
The brain is able to change its default state with enough repetitive practice. This phenomenon is called neuroplasticity. New pathways can be formed, old pathways can be rerouted and new skills can be learned. This is good news knowing that we don’t have to think or behave in ways that don’t work for our highest good. Neuroplasticity experts say the quickest way to enhance positive brain change is by linking a new experience to an emotion, exercising the body and the mind, and focusing on what you do want instead of what you don’t want. All of these are precepts taught in the HypnoBirthing program.
How HypnoBirthing Helps with Childbirth
HypnoBirthing preparation helps with pain in childbirth mainly by reducing fear and understanding what is normal. Your body is used to going into a state of fight or flight when encountering something unknown or frightening. This keeps your body from achieving a state of relaxation where the body feels safe and at ease. In this relaxed state, the labor can happen as it is meant to. Fear leads to tension and reduced relaxation, and this leads to increased pain and more fear. This is called the “Fear-Tension-Pain” cycle.
When you know what to expect and are in a state of acceptance and allowing the process to happen, it becomes less painful. When you are prepared with the HypnoBirthing classes and training you are able to enjoy the birth process because you know what to expect and what is normal. You will feel confident after you give birth to your baby in a calm and empowered state. That confidence will carry over into breastfeeding.
Benefits of HypnoBirthing on Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is really best done in a relaxed, stress-free state. When your body is under stress, anxious, or worried the hormones adrenalin and cortisol are released into the bloodstream. These hormones block the flow of oxytocin, the breastfeeding hormone. Oxytocin is the feel-good, love hormone that causes milk “let down” or starts the flow of milk. Without this signal to the brain, the body will start to shut down the operation, thinking there isn’t a baby or that the baby doesn’t need as much milk. This results in a decreased milk supply, or at worst, no milk at all. Stressors can come from labor, taking care of the baby, or something else life has to throw at you.
Stress during labor can cause delayed lactation. Stress to the body during labor can come in different forms:
- Long labor
- Long pushing phase
- Medications during labor
- Cesarean birth, forceps, or vacuum
- Induction or augmentation of labor with synthetic oxytocin
- Retained placenta
- Baby not allowed to spend unlimited time at the breast
Most of these situations happen when interventions are done on the labor. With HypnoBirthing, you will have trained your body to relax and allowed the labor to happen naturally. As a result, these interventions will rarely occur.
Stress in the early postpartum period can cause milk supply to decrease. Some stresses during the fourth trimester include:
- Sleep deprivation from baby’s sleep schedules
- Marital adjustment to new family dynamics
- Your body healing from labor and delivery
- The stress of housework, caring for older children, or going back to work
Helping the Milk Flow
In this world, stress will happen. You can learn how to cope with inevitable stresses by training your brain with HypnoBirthing. HypnoBirthing has a section of the course devoted solely to infant feeding and the fourth trimester. This will give you information and tips on how hypnosis benefits breastfeeding. If you start to feel stressed you can come back to this module for a refresher. Listening to your hypnosis track for breastfeeding can be your go-to first step to reducing stress. Here are some other ways to help get the milk flowing when you feel stressed:
- Warm packs to breasts prior to feeding
- Massage the breasts or have someone give you a back rub!
- Laughing and smiling
- Skin-to-skin snuggling with baby
- Relaxing music
- Deep, slow breathing
Our world can be very stressful, and it has been especially in the last few years. You can rest assured knowing that the training you do with HypnoBirthing will carry over to breastfeeding, parenting, and beyond.
“Neuroplasticity.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 21 Apr. 2023, www.britannica.com/science/neuroplasticity.
Campbell, Suzanne Hetzel, et al. “Delayed Lactogenesis II as a Cause of Insufficient Milk Production.” Core Curriculum for Interdisciplinary Lactation Care, Jones & Bartlett Learning, Burlington, MA, 2023, p. 349.
Written By: Hayley Ferut
My name is Hayley Ferut, and I have 10 years of combined experience as a Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. My professional passions include birth, breastfeeding, mental health, and patient education. I strive to deliver high-quality healthcare content while being a mom to my precious little boys. I write to educate patients and clients so they can make informed decisions about their health.