Hypnobirthing: what even is that?
If you’re anything like me, hypnosis reminds of some dodgy 70’s tv programme where someone is asked to lie back in a recliner chair, eyes closed and have magic words whispered to them.
How does that work with giving birth? The woman wakes up and out pops the baby?!
Nope, it’s not quite like that. And no, it’s not the next hippy dippy movement designed to lure you in to buying strange and exotic products.
This is the real deal.
So let’s define this mystery concept of self hypnosis:
Basically self hypnosis consists of entirely relaxing yourself into a ‘state’ where you’re aware of what’s going on around you, your thoughts and feelings but your main focus is on yourself – in the case of childbirth, the focus begins in your body.
Aaaahhh….breathe that sign of relief. See it’s not that wacky is it?
The origins of hypnobirthing go back quite a few years when Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, well known author of ‘Childbirth without fear’, at the time discovered how the more women were able to relax their own bodies, the more succesful and easier labour would progress.
When coming round to the idea myself, I would watch various talks given by the famous Ina May Gaskin. Not only has she had experience in midwifery for years, she has helped many women overcome the fear of birth by tuning into their own wisdom and power.
What do you mean by ‘Relax your body’?
What’s the one muscle that needs to work during labour? The UTERUS. Let’s get used to saying that.
How do we get the uterus to do it’s job efficiently? By relaxing all the other muscles in the body.
So what hypnobirthing really is, is the ability (with sufficient practice) to ‘switch off’ your mind which can produce fear-related hormones such as adrenaline and slow down the body’s natural process.
When we can go into our bubble and focus on our breath to relax our body, it automatically sends our pain-reliever hormones ‘endorphin’ and ‘oxyctocin’ that make the uterus contract. What, really? Yes, our body knows what to do!
What are the benefits of Hypnobirthing?
Aside from the benefit of being relaxed and feeling in control of your own birth, statistics show that women who practice hypnosis throughout their pregnancy find that there are these possible outcomes:
- A greater confidence in yourself and your ability to give birth naturally
- Reduced risk of ‘tearing’ due to the breathing techniques you will learn throughout the course
- Can lead to a shorter and easier labour
- Less likely to need medication and interventions
- Less likely to need an induction and instead give birth spontaneously
- Quicker post partum recovery and less chance of post partum depression
- Easier to get a good headstart with breastfeeding
- Calmer mum and calmer baby
How is it different from other prenatal classes?
Most prenatal classes you will attend tend to focus on one big thing: how to manage the pain of labour.
Hypnobirthing is different in the sense that it doesn’t teach you to ‘manage’ pain, as that would be swimming against the tide. Rather it teaches you how to ‘ride with it’ if you will, entering into that state of trance you practised during pregnancy to be able to breathe through the pain.
Can Hypnobirthing still be useful if my birth doesn’t go to plan?
Absolutely! Even if you’re transfered to a hospital, the relaxation techniques you learn during hypnosis will help you in all birth situations – for example in the unlikely case of an emergency c-section, you may practice your affirmations of acceptance.
You may take your headphones with you to listen to it or you may breath in the same way as practiced with your birth partner by your side holding your hand.
Of course we all strive to have the labour of our dreams, but sometimes baby has other plans! The important thing to remember is that as long as mummy and baby are in safe hands, all will be well.
Self-hypnosis is something that you can also take away from the birthing experience and begin to use in all walks of life – a driving exam, an important meeting.
How do I go about starting?
It’s pretty simple. Most people like to use the Hypnobirth course called The Mongan Method or Hypnobabies . I personally didn’t use this one as I wanted something in UK English, where I’m from. I figured if I was gonna let a voice sink in to my deep sub-conscious trance, it had to be an accent that I was familiar with.
I instead used Self Hypnosis for Birth by Tracey Holloway. She has a soft, soothing voice I could listen to for hours.
I’m still not sure it’s for me..
I get you. Don’t just depend on this article as proof, try and talk to other women who might’ve experienced hypnobirthing for themselves and research even further into it.
I hope I’ve cleared up some questions you might be having if you’re considering a hypnobirth.
Feel free to leave a comment below and I will try to answer based on the experience I have. And just before that, here’s another quick thought about Hypnosis:
If you’re anything like me….
You might have anxious and stressful thoughts and feelings throughout your pregnancy. Although it’s totally normal and to be expected to some extent – I mean hello, your life is dramatically gonna turn upside down – there is a way of dealing with this.
Even before I began thinking of birth I knew I needed to chill out when I would experience what some other women do too – little anxiety attacks. I’m talking about out of the blue, heart-racing, palm-sweating sit down, feet up on a cushion type thing.
I’m not sure if it was my obsessive cleaning and tidying towards the end – I mean hey, I had to get my exercise somehow and that nesting feeling was reallllly kicking in.
It’s easy to implement in your day
So, around afternoon nap time I would take off my rubber gloves and head upstairs for a fantastic nap, starting with listening to my relaxation. You see, it’s that simple, pop it on and away you go – you might even fall asleep before the end, like me. That’s ok too, you’ll just wake up feeling so relaxed.
Thing is, as I mentioned before, the breathing techniques are really something you can take on board and use in your daily routine, like those days where you’re a fumbling sleep-deprived mess picking up a trail of toys and trying not to slip on baby food – again.
PLUS you get more bonding time with baby even before she’s born and that’s the special part. It starts to feel real and that realness can really help when you’ve got your head in the clouds wondering what it’s all going to be like.
Usually the birthing partner has a heads up on the hypnosis too so he’ll know how to guide you should you need it during labour and he/she can connect too with their unborn child.
Let me break that down again: Better bonding with baby and partner, what’s not to love?
Ladies, as always I’d love to hear your thoughts on hypnobirthing, feel free to comment below!