Body-centered hypnosis reaches into this self-regulating limbic activity, helping women cope with the likelihood of pain in labor. Sensations evoked by the use of vivid imagery, meaningful metaphors and the repetition of certain phrases all produce memory tracings in the brain tracings that are further developed by listening to an audiotape of the hypnosis session. Stimulated by the hypnotic messages, pregnant women thus reexperience the sensations evoked during hypnosis, all the while reactivating limbic pathways that feed into the autonomic nervous system. The hypnosis is rendered even more effective when pregnant women identify their unique coping styles and utilize active coping techniques before labor begins.(14)
This body-centered approach to pain management not only decreases anxiety levels during the upcoming birth, but profoundly affects subsequent births as well. In contrast, most other forms of hypnosis used for childbirth focus on "transcending" the pain or blocking it out, offering few long-range benefits. The laboring woman whose experience of pain is denied or rendered inaccessible often has more difficulty resolving her birthing anxieties the next time around.
The experiential quality of body-centered hypnosis is equally promising, and a far cry from methods that invite pregnant women to merely relax and absorb suggestions. The more actively women participate in the hypnosis process, the more it becomes an intimate part of everyday life. The more engaged they are in the experience of bodily sensations, the more motivated they will be to create positive suggestions, and the better prepared they will be to bring forth new life.