In this blog post, I’m going to share a transcript from my recent conversation with Sheri Fitzner. Sheri is a Hypnotherapist with Hypno for Healing, a reiki master, and a Hypnobirthing educator. Check it out and be a fly on the wall during this chat about hypnotherapy! I’m excited to offer a hypnotherapy & birth strategy session package with Sheri!
Can you tell me a little bit about what you do as a Hypnotherapist in your work with birthing people? What is hypnotherapy?
I’m Sherry Fitzner. I’m a transpersonal hypnotherapist, a Reiki Master and a Hypnobirthing childbirth educator here in the western New York area.
Hypnotherapy is amazing in so many different ways, it can help everybody from helping to release a habit to helping to block pain. And that’s primarily where a lot of pregnant mamas want to focus on is one not having to feel pain, which we always associate with labor, and to releasing fear around birthing and being pregnant. And actually after labor as well, just because of all the unknowns. I work with moms in that way just to help release those fears that plague them throughout their whole pregnancy and the idea of what their birthing experience will be like. And that is so important.
Jenni: The prevalence of fear and its effect on the pregnancy and birth experience is just huge. It’s probably one of the most common things that I discuss with my clients and the families that I work with, trying to address those fears before you move into your experience.
How did you get into doing this work as a hypnotherapist? What brought you along this path?
It actually has a lot to do with my being a mom. I have four children myself, and my birthing experiences all range and they were all very, very different. And the first two that I had were not ideal. They weren’t how I wanted them to go. I walked away from each of them feeling like I had failed at something like I just didn’t do something right. I carried that with me after each of my births. One birth in particular, after my second, I had very extreme postpartum depression. It was just from years of feeling like a failure at birthing.
You know, with one birth, I had forced pushing, and it was like, “Oh, well, if you don’t get this baby out in the next few minutes, you’re going for a C section.” And you know, all that jargon that happens that can put you in such a fear state. I thought, well, what did I do wrong? Why did this happen? So that led me to my third birth. I thought, no, I’m in my 30s. Now, I am not going to allow this to happen to myself again.
I started exploring different routes such as hypnotherapy.
It led me to hypnosis and I thought, well, I hear that moms can use hypnosis, and I started piecemealing a program together for myself. I used hypnosis to birth my baby and it was the most beautiful and empowering experience I have ever had in my entire life.
From there, I actually said, that’s it. I’m teaching this and I went to school for hypnotherapy. And since then, I’ve had another child and used the Hypnobirthing child birth method. I had another great hypnosis-based birth. So it was through my children and my experience birthing them. They brought me into hypnotherapy.
What is your passion and inspiration for working with hypnotherapy for birthing people?
Drawing from my own experiences and from my friends’ experiences, it’s definitely working through trauma related to birthing and fear related to birthing. It’s just helping women to heal and mamas to heal surrounding their birth experience.
How does trauma and fear affect the pregnancy and birth process?
The idea that it a word can actually have power over your body is something that most people don’t understand until they try this exercise. I always tell my moms, imagine a contraction, what do you think that would feel like, and they tense right up. If they demonstrate that with their hands, they crunch their hands together. You’re literally fighting your body. If you’re doing that, you already have the idea that a contraction is something bad that’s happening to you. This means you’re going to tense up, which means you’re going to bring in more tension for your body, and you’re going to slow your birthing process right down.
Just that one word can change the whole outlook on your birthing experience, just by being afraid of the word contraction. So what if we took that away? What if we change the word altogether? And we remove the idea that a contraction is not a contraction, it’s just a wave or a wave happening to your body?
Now a wave is not a scary word, is it? No, we imagine a beautiful coast, a wave coming out to the shore, and then drifting back in. Doesn’t that just make you want to sway when you’re hearing that? You allow your body to flow with it.
If we are picturing just one word and the effect it has on the body, imagine what a feeling or an emotion can do, like stress and fear.
When you put that into your body, it puts you into a fight or flight kind of mode. All the blood rushes to your legs, and you feel like you have to run away from something. It actually releases a constricting hormone in your body. By helping ourselves to remove the idea that certain things are scary and change it, you’re actually going in flow with the whole process, and you’re allowing yourself to instinctively birth.
Jenni: In my last birth experience, when labor got really hard at the end, I kept saying to myself, “it’s just a wave, it’s just a wave, it’s just a wave.” And I even did that for my postpartum after birth pain and contractions. I think when things were really intense, I was just like taking it like, “Okay, this is really intense. This is normal. It’s just a wave.” And the funniest thing about that is that I didn’t prepare to do that at all. It just came out of me from some subconscious place. There was a big shift that happened there, from analyzing my labor process to switching gears and moving to the intuitive heart space. It was really incredible.
When you stop fighting your own body with hypnotherapy, and you stop fighting your instincts, your body does what it’s meant to do, and what it’s designed to do.
The whole process moves a lot faster. When you’re using hypnosis, there are studies that prove that your labor is shorter because you’re not fighting yourself.
I like to tell moms, if you picture walking in the grocery store, and you’ve got an empty cart and you’re going down an aisle… you’re just walking with your empty cart. Now imagine that you have somebody hanging off the back of your leg and you’re trying to push this cart down the aisle. It’s going to go a lot slower and it’s going to take a lot longer. It’s going to be very uncomfortable. That’s what you are doing to yourself when you’re putting those limited beliefs on your labor. You’re anchoring yourself down to not progress down that beautiful aisle with your empty cart.
If we could just remove little things like that for ourselves and get out of our own way, we can create a beautiful and instinctive experience for ourselves.
What are some warning signs for someone in pregnancy that they might be dealing with fear, anxiety or trauma responses? How can hypnotherapy help?
I’m going to talk about the modern woman and the modern mama. The one who is a little bit more anxious. She is going to do her research. She’s constantly researching. She’s always googling things. And we know Google is not always our best friend, right? But that’s something that we might be doing. If we don’t recognize that we’re anxious ourselves, anytime we feel something new we’re googling that. Is that normal? Then we’re going to automatically go to the worst case scenario, call our doctor, and be like, “Is this what’s happening? No, you’re okay.”
We’re all guilty of doing this to some degree, right? We’ve all googled and done that. That’s one telltale sign. If you feel like you’re always having to research instead of tapping into yourself. Let’s face it, pregnancy can do some crazy things to our to our bodies.
Secondly, we do start to feel that anxiety peak in our body. Some might feel it in their chest, or their breathing might change a little bit. They’re always seeking out over other people’s birth stories. We have a tendency to share birth stories like they’re badges of honor. Especially the scariest birth stories. But we need to stop doing that to each other, because it’s just putting unnecessary fear into these new mamas.
We’ve got to stop seeking out other women’s birth stories, or horror stories.
Feeling that fear inside your own body can lead to not sleeping. You might feel uncomfortable, you’re always tense. And your breathing starts to shift. You’re going to be looking for all these signs. And really start to think about what your pregnancy means to you. Are you enjoying being pregnant, but you’re terrified of giving birth? Or are you just afraid to be pregnant? Are you afraid of what happens after? Is it the unknown? There’s a lot of things that go on. But we can work through all of these things, if you just start to tap into yourself. You can kind of figure out where you where you’re at in that moment that the fear starts to creep up. Where are you feeling it in your body? Let’s work through and get rid of it. Because it’s not serving you.
Jenni: It’s important to notice your thought patterns, such as repetitive thoughts and destructive thinking that you’re stuck in, and your physiological responses. We know that birth is a holistic process. It’s not just a physical process that happens in your body. It happens in the body, the mind, and the spirit. And if you are feeling all these feelings, like you’re having anxiety, and fear,
it starts to tap into the fear-tension-pain cycle.
If you feel fear, then you have all this tension that’s created in your body. And a physiological sign is that you’re basically working against your body in birth. I definitely see a lot of tightness and tension in the pelvis, and the pelvic floor tissues. It makes it more difficult for your baby to get in the best position for birth. Also, if you have all of these tensions and imbalances in your body, and ultimately, I think that’s probably why hypnosis is so effective, too, because it doesn’t just happen in the mind, right? It happens in the connection between your body and your hormones and your labor flow. It’s the whole holistic process that allows you to move forward into the cosmic consciousness of labor and birth.
If you’re sitting back and you’re thinking, I can’t do this, I can’t do this, I can’t do this… Then you’re creating that mantra in your head of I can’t do this. I can’t do this. Hypnotherapy changes that mentality.
Well, guess what your body is then responding to, “Oh, nope, you can’t do this. You shouldn’t do this, you’re not going to do this.” And that’s just the way it works out. We absolutely are creating that reality. But if you’re sitting back and you’re saying, I can do this, you’re going to start to believe I am doing this. It’s done. Your body responded, and your endorphins were released.
What we don’t realize also is that this whole time, whatever our mind is set in, those are the hormones that are being released into our body. So we want to get into a very relaxed state to allow endorphins to be released during our birthing experience and during our entire pregnancy.
Actually, what also happens with endorphins is they don’t just disappear and go away. They layer on top of each other, and they flood the body. And they just keep flooding the body in such a beautiful way to the point where you can completely eliminate any type of pain you’re feeling by how much endorphins you have running through your body. It’s also going to energize you.
And then, your pelvic floor muscles are going to respond. Your hips are going to respond to all that relaxin.
With hypnotherapy, things are just going to open easily and naturally allow baby to get into position.
Because baby knows they have a job to do. And mamas and babies can have that conversation. You can close your eyes and just talk to your baby through hormones and through feelings and baby feels you and knows what you’re feeling and thinking.
So once it’s time, baby knows its job. It’s going to get right into position, and they’re just going to work their way on out. I love to tell moms that your body is designed to do this, it is 100%. It’s chemically made up to birth. If you’re in a coma, your body can give birth, you don’t actually need to be conscious to give birth. Your body is physically designed to do the whole thing on its own.
Jenni: Something that I see is in preparation for birth, some birthing parents will put some relaxation tracks on a birth playlist. And then that’s it, and they think they’re set for a relaxed and comfortable birth. But the reality is, these strategies are not very effective unless you consistently practice them and believe that and then work on them throughout your pregnancy. Then you get all of those layers of the unraveling, unfolding, the building the bridge of consciousness between you and your baby in that deep cosmic state. When you relax and you go into your deep, lower brainwaves, you’re training your body to respond differently. The spiritual and emotional preparation is also so important for birth.
The more practice you put into it, meaning you listen to a hypnotherapy track every day in a hypnosis session, and you’re always going into trance, you are going to get there faster and faster and faster each time. So that by the time you are in your, your, the place of birthing, you can do it on your own.
All of hypnotherapy is self-hypnosis, because you do it in your mind and it’s your imagination bringing you there.
I like to just teach you how you do it, how you get to that space through hypnotherapy, so that when you are in that place of birth, you can bring yourself right back there. And you can go right into that beautiful sweet spot of trance and tranquility and relaxation and just talk to your baby the whole time.
And I have to say in my last birth, I felt where my baby’s head was the entire time. I stayed connected to it. I could visualize it in my mind’s eye. And I talked to him and I swear he heard me. I just felt that connection. So by going into a beautiful deep trance, blocking out the room, it’s just you and your baby communicating and working together. There is nothing more harmonious in the world and I’m telling you every woman can do this.
Jenni: Every birthing person is able to manifest the birth that they want through changing their vibes and moving through different brain waves for a comfortable and healthy birth experience.
If something changes in the birth plan, rather than getting stressed out about it, I want moms to be empowered with any possible change that can come and any outcome that can come.
We both want you to feel so empowered. And if that means learning hypnosis and learning those techniques and learning to advocate and learning the system that you’re working within, you’re going to feel immediately relaxed.
Jenni: There’s all this energy that is very much headspace such as writing our birth plan, making evidence-based choices, advocacy, and understanding what your body is doing. It’s the headspace and intellectual space of birth. And I think that that is all such important knowledge. But ultimately, you don’t birth in your thinking brain, you birth in your feeling and intuitive brain. You birth from the heart and not from the head. And I feel like so much of the work you do as a hypnotherapist is really attending to and nurturing the heart space of the birthing person. And that just unlocks so much unlimited potential for like the spirit, the spirituality of the person in birth, but also their physical body and their labor progress. So I feel like this is just has such unlimited potential for people because it just helps you to really connect with your heart in birth.
Hypnotherapy itself is really allowing that that conscious part of your brain, the judgmental thoughts, your critical thinking, we want to allow that to take a take a break.
We want to get down to the root of the subconscious unconscious part of your mind. And that is where your beliefs are stored, your long term memory is stored, your feelings are stored, we want to get there. Because if you have if you have sadness, or fear, or phobias, surrounding birth, that’s where they’re existing. That’s where all those beliefs that birth is related to pain, we want to get rid of that so it doesn’t exist, it doesn’t serve you and it’s not true, actually. So just because they might not be true, they are still living in your in your subconscious mind.
In hypnotherapy, we want to rewire that subconscious mind to reflect things that are going to better serve you. And not just in your birth experience, but for your whole life. Who wants to walk around with the limiting belief that they could be in pain just to bring a beautiful child into the world?
What we do together is figure out what the fear is. We name the puppy. Once you name that puppy, you own it. And now that fear no longer owns you and we can release it. We can let it go. And we’re going to replace it with something really beautiful and empowering and it’s going to help you to look forward to the birthing experience because you are going to feel so strong.
Can you give us a strategy or a way that people can work to release their fear at home?
The very first thing I’m going to tell everybody is to love yourself. And whether you recognize you have fear, you don’t have fear, I want you to love yourself. That’s really important. Because you are absolutely valued, and you are an incredibly powerful person. Secondly, just acknowledge that it’s there, you know, and acknowledge that it doesn’t change your inner strength by acknowledging that it’s there. Sometimes we’re always afraid to admit that something is scary to us, or that we have fear surrounding something, because it makes us perhaps think that we’re less worthy, and that’s not the case.
You’re going to love yourself, you’re going to recognize that there’s fear, and then we’re going to try and figure out where it comes from.
And in this hypnotherapy process, deep breaths can help. So often, a lot of us work in this shallow breath, and it’s in our chest, instead of coming from our diaphragm, which is feeding our body. So we want to practice some beautiful, calm breaths to release beautiful hormones into our bodies. It’s going to release those endorphins into our body.
Then from there, if we can’t release the fear, then I can certainly help you do that. And it might take a little bit more of a trance, but meditating, beautiful music, reading a book can get you into that trance state. Once you feel relaxed enough, then allow your mind to explore that space of where that fear lives and just say, you know what, you’re not helping me, I want you gone. And that’s how I would recommend doing it at home. It’s something that you’re going to revisit every day. Practice makes perfect, you’re not going to do it one time and think, Oh, well, that’s that I took care of that. Because it’s there’s layers of it there. So we want to remove it from our whole makeup. Tapping in and getting to know yourself in a new way in a new space and deeply breathing. And owning it is going to change a lot for a lot of people.
What would it look like for someone to work with you as a hypnotherapist? Can you take us through the hypnotherapy journey?
I actually do most, if not all of my sessions virtually. Oftentimes, our goal is to birth at home or to labor for as long as possible at home. So I work with moms so that they’re in their cozy nest space. And it’s an automatic anchor to feeling safe and feeling cozy. So when you are birthing you can sit in that spot and say, Oh, I automatically remember how to do this. So I set up a session with somebody, they can contact me. I do this all over zoom. And I’m going to teach them how to how to basically hypnotize themselves and to get into that space. I usually recommend three to six sessions truthfully for a lot of fear releasing because usually it’s not just one thing. It’s generational fear that we’re releasing so it can take some time.
It helps you to channel and speak with baby during that time.
Babies love hypnotherapy.
Their response is so mellow and calm because they’re reflecting what mama’s feeling too. And we can set up hypnosis sessions over zoom.
A lot of people have some fear around hypnotherapy. I’m not going to make you cluck like a chicken, you absolutely cannot do anything that you are not willing to do, I would never make you and cannot make you go against any of your values. Nor can you reveal any personal secrets about yourself.
Because again, that’s where you’re going to hold on to all of your, all of your long-term memories and that and you’re not going to release anything that you do not want to be released. So that’s the other thing is if you if you want to release something you’re going to and that’s really that’s the biggest part is just wanting to.
Want to connect with me?
Join my Facebook group called Follow Your Own Compass. Connect with other parents who want to follow their own compass in birth and get tons of free resources to support your journey.
I have an amazing new course called the Blissful Birth Mini-Course. This course lays the foundation for a confident, peaceful, and powerful birth. I teach this course through my strategy called the 3 R’s – relaxation, ritual, and radical love. Check out this online course to help you have a confident and powerful birth! The link is right in the episode notes. I’m offering this course to you at just $7, although the resources in it are worth $57.
If you’d like to get to know me a little more, feel free to schedule a complimentary consult call. I’d love to learn more about how I can support your family in birth. Check out the link in the show notes to schedule YOUR call today.