Pregnancy, fertility and hypnosis
Pregnancy can be a wonderful time, but it can also come with physical and emotional challenges. The demands on your body, the hormone fluctuations, and worrying about the future can sometimes cause low mood or anxiety. This could be more likely if there are any complications, many of which can be made worse in turn by stress. Hypnosis is a gentle, non-invasive, and non-addictive way to soothe emotional difficulties and physical pain and, for most women, can be helpful during pregnancy and birth.*
Hypnosis and fertility: can hypnotherapy help you get pregnant?
Clearly, you can't be hypnotised into being fertile, especially if there are specific medical issues that are preventing you from becoming pregnant. However, hypnotherapy can help to keep you calmer and more relaxed while you try to conceive. This, in itself, can help to increase your chances of becoming pregnant because it reduces the production of stress hormones like cortisol, which can interfere with ovulation. 
For example, one study showed that women who used mind/body and relaxation techniques alongside IVF had a 42-55% conception rate as compared to 20% with those who undertook IVF alone.  And another showed that women with depression had a 60% viable pregnancy rate within six months if their depression was treated, compared with 24% if it wasn’t. 
If you are trying to get pregnant, your hypnotherapy sessions will be tailored to you and your situation, but they might include:
- stress reduction generally,
- reducing anxiety around the issue of infertility itself, and/or any related medical interventions (for example, needle phobias),
- weight control, smoking cessation, or motivation to follow a healthier lifestyle, especially if your doctor has said these things might help,
- dealing with any unresolved issues such as generalised anxiety or depression, past trauma, or unresolved issues about becoming a parent.
Hypnosis and pregnancy: how does hypnotherapy help when you are pregnant?
It’s not usual to undertake hypnotherapy for issues unrelated to your pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. Issues like fear of spiders or public speaking are generally best dealt with at other times. But hypnotherapy is safe for most mums-to-be and can help with physical discomfort, morning sickness, sleep disturbances, and lots more of the minor aggravations of pregnancy.
Up to 80% of women experience some level of ‘morning sickness' (though it can happen at other times of day too) and there is evidence that using hypnosis can ‘allow a more comfortable pregnancy and healthier foetal development, and could prevent cases that might otherwise proceed to full-blown hyperemesis gravidarum’ (excessive nausea and vomiting).  Hypnotherapists can teach you some suitable techniques to use at home.
Physical discomfort can be part of pregnancy as your body changes. Hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis can help to decrease muscle aches, stomach upsets, and morning sickness, just as they can help with chronic or acute pain in other situations. (see this link)
Hypnosis can help you feel more relaxed and more comfortable and "present" in your body, which can reduce pain and help you keep moving around more easily right through the late stages, which will help you stay healthy for the birth. A healthy parent is likely to produce a healthier child. Trance will also cause your muscles to relax, which can prevent pain caused by tightness or stiffness.
Emotional fluctuations due to hormone changes are practically a cliche of pregnancy, and you might also have sleep issues or concerns about new routines such as having regular blood tests. It's also quite normal to worry about the baby's wellbeing and what it’s going to be like to give birth, especially if it’s your first time or you have had a poor birthing experience in the past. If the worry gets too much it can be very distressing for you, and high levels of stress hormones in pregnant women have been correlated with low birth weight, birth complications, and health issues in the baby.  Worrying about this might, of course, risk making things worse.
To break this vicious cycle, you need to stay as relaxed as possible, as often as possible. Hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis can help you reduce and stop focusing on your fears and pay more attention to the positives. Read my other articles for advice on different ways to cope with anxiety; for example, try journaling, getting out into nature, a safe level of exercise (ask your doctor), healthy food, and plenty of sleep.
Hypnobirthing: using hypnosis during childbirth
Hypnosis can also be used as an alternative or supplement to chemical anaesthetics during birthing. This might be especially helpful if you're allergic to or otherwise can't use standard painkillers. It can also make the birth feel less tiring by keeping you relaxed.
I offer a personalised service, not a predesigned programme that ignores your specific circumstances. A typical set of sessions to prepare you for childbirth might include:
- relaxation techniques to use before and during childbirth,
- addressing any fears or worries you might have about the experience,
- teaching you hypnotic pain relief techniques,
- teaching your birthing partner to help you use the techniques,
- developing a positive attitude towards birth and being a parent.
A review of studies showing the effects of using hypnotherapy in pregnancy and childbirth concluded that it is useful for
'alleviating fear and pain related to childbirth, enhancing postnatal well-being, and empowering women to feel more confident and in control of their emotions during childbirth.' 
If you would like to know more about using hypnotherapy for any of the reasons mentioned here, please get in touch.
*Safety note: Of course, you shouldn’t ignore anything which might indicate there’s a problem. Speak to your doctor or midwife before using hypnotherapy and/or if you notice any changes in your physical or emotional health, since they are best placed to make sure you and your baby are okay. Assuming all is well, hypnotherapy can be used alongside medication and surgical treatments, so feel free to continue using it for the duration of your pregnancy.
 The Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association 1999 and The Journal of Fertility and Sterility 2000. (Studies conducted by Alice Domar, PhD, director of the Beth Israel Deaconess Behavioural Medicine Program for Infertility in Boston)
 Journal of American Medical Women’s Association, 1999, vol. 54.
Debbie Waller is a professional hypnotherapist, specialising in stress, anxiety and related issues. She also offers EMDR which is used for trauma, PTSD, phobias and OCD and publishes hypnotherapy-for-ibs.co.uk for those interested in using hypnotherapy to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Debbie owns a multi-accredited hypnotherapy school, Yorkshire Hypnotherapy Training and offers further training for qualified therapists via CPD Expert. She is the author of Their Worlds, Your Words and The Hypnotherapist's Companion, editor and contributor to the online magazine Hypnotherapy Training & Practitioner, and co-author of The Hypnotherapy Handbook.
For more information on any of these services, phone 01977 678593.
Researcher: Rae Waller. Rae is an experienced researcher and writer with a special interest in mental health issues. She currently provides drafting, fact-checking, proofreading, and editing for anything from a leaflet to a website, a blog or book, and can also provide diversity reading, especially for LGBTQ+ and autism-related issues. If you’d like to see more information, please visit https://www.fiverr.com/raewaller