By Lynsi Eastburn, MA, BCH, CI
Originally Published in the NGH HypnoGram Periodical (2015), also published in It’s Conceivable! Hypnosis for Fertility 2nd edition
Infertility is a heartbreaking issue that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), affects approximately six percent of married women (15–44 years of age) in the United States alone (2013). Infertility impacts much more than a woman’s ability to have a child, and it is not an insignificant matter to be dismissed or discounted. It is a matter that is on par with other catastrophic issues, though it gets less recognition and far less sympathy. In fact, insensitive comments/remarks are the hallmark of this painful journey.
Hypnosis is renowned for its efficacy in stress and anxiety relief (Spiegel, 2013). HypnoFertility® (HF) is a comprehensive application of hypnotic techniques, based on the accepted science, and used to support the many facets of infertility and its treatments. The focus of HF is to elicit a balance of mind/body/spirit, with emphasis on stress relief and ego-strengthening. This assists clients in “taking their lives back,” or recovering a sense of normalcy in daily life that enables them to be present, and to enhance positive awareness in other areas of their lives.
There is a consistent theme within the realm of infertility; those enmeshed—particularly women—have essentially resigned to being “broken.” By the time a client reaches my office, her self-confidence is shaken, her self-image shattered. An essential focus of HF consultants is to hold the space for a woman to come to terms with this devastating experience. When I say, “hold the space,” I am referring to actually hearing (not just listening to) the client, validating her experience, and accepting where she is—sans judgment. Infertility impacts people on multiple levels: it is emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically exhausting; and can be financially and socially devastating.
Women who seek my assistance are self-proclaimed Type A personalities, perfectionists, control freaks, over-achievers, etc., so it is no wonder that they have such extreme difficulty in dealing with a problem that cannot be conquered. Over and over I hear the same statement: I have always gotten ANYTHING I set my mind to—except for getting pregnant! I tell clients, students, and readers alike that “you can’t left-brain a baby.” This statement is key to the utilization of hypnosis to promote fertility—and what led to the development of this specialty.
Society values the intellect, often at the expense of the imagination. This results in a predominance of left-brain thinking—the mainstay of the Type A personality. (For the purpose of this article, terms such as left or right brain, Type A, etc. are consistent with the vernacular, rather than academic terminology.) The left brain is regarded as analytical, decision-making, hard-working, and more or less concrete. The right brain, on the other hand, is considered imaginative, creative, day-dreamy, abstract. That the scientist is left-brained, and the artist is right-brained is a common notion; the fact is, we need both. Time Magazine (1999) proclaims Albert Einstein to be the “preeminent scientist” of the 20th century, though Einstein himself—in a 1929 issue of The Saturday Evening Post—says: “I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world” (p. 117).
HF clients rely on their intellect, on their innate ability to achieve whatever they put their minds to. They are “do-ers” (left brain) and the concept of “being” (right brain) is often incomprehensible to them. Discussion of the necessity of receptivity, of surrender, of allowing; in other words of “being,” elicits the response of okay, how do I DO that?! or I do everything they say, exactly the way they say to do it, and I still can’t get pregnant! “They” being reproductive endocrinologists (RE), naturopathic doctors (ND), acupuncturists, nutritionists, and other assorted fertility consultants. There is a quandary here: often these professionals contradict each other.
Though often unknown to patients, RE protocols vary significantly on a global basis. What might be standard assisted reproductive technology (ART) practice at one US clinic may differ completely from the standards of foreign clinics, from one state to the next, and even from one local clinic to another. Recommended diets vary significantly not only from one modality to another, but within each modality. For example, women are told that some alcohol is fine but to never have caffeine; or that caffeine is okay, but alcohol is forbidden; or that they must take Chinese herbs; or to avoid Chinese herbs at all costs; they must eat/must avoid red meat; eat raw vegetables/eat only cooked vegetables… Sugar and gluten are pretty consistently “evil,” but dealing with so many contradictions is exceptionally frustrating.
I describe HF as the “missing link” because it supports all modalities without contradiction. Unlike any other practitioners our clients may encounter, HF consultants can validate their experiences because we are not invested in any outcome. We have no agenda. HF is designed to facilitate the healing of debilitating “brokenness;” it helps to relieve fear and confusion; and it fosters a healthy mind state where all other factors can be effectively evaluated, integrated, or discarded as appropriate.
Our job is not to contradict medical advice; nor is it to dispute anything else our clients may be doing. We can be of most service by helping them to reclaim the balance necessary to discern which direction or treatment is right for them, without constant second-guessing or self-deprecation. This is what I refer to as the “balance of intention and surrender.” Through HF, clients are able to be present in the moment, and to undergo any treatment or procedure without pre-conceived “certainties” of failure. They are not only validated but empowered; they experience a restoration of mind/body/spirit balance, and a sense of “normalcy” in their everyday lives. Because of HypnoFertility®, our clients know they are not broken.
*Note: men and/or couples are also impacted by infertility; to maintain simplicity I have referred only to women here.
***This article was written for a hypnotherapy organization and is, therefore, more therapist-focused. I thought there might be some bits in it that you could use, so I am including it here.***