Updated: Jul 12
So, what exactly is hypnobirthing and how does it work? I'm a little sceptical and I'm not sure I want any of that 'hippy-dippy' stuff in my birthing room.
What do you think of when you think of hypnosis? Stage hypnotism where people do crazy things like cluck like a chicken or swinging pendulums putting people into a
deep trance-like state? That is not what happens when you bring hypnosis into the labour room. You are not under a spell, and you do not have someone controlling your thoughts and actions. Let me explain a little about what is involved ...
I prefer to sum up hypnobirthing as a collection of taught techniques for pain relief and relaxation which will increase you self-confidence and self-belief if your body's ability to give birth
As I have said before, 'your birth, your choice' but experience has shown me that most labouring women do not want to take strong pain relief in the early part of their labour. Learning how to cope with your contractions in different ways will help you to last longer before resorting to stronger drugs if that is what you wish. Some women do choose, however, to use hypnobirthing strategies in their entirety to cope with labour and that is do-able too.
Think about how you might cope with labour in the early stages when you are most likely at home. Think about how you might cope if you are having a hospital birth and you are in your car on the motorway to the hospital. Hypnobirthing techniques can also be used to calm anxiety when faced with the unexpected such as an un-planned caesarean birth. In fact research has shown the skills learnt during a hypnobirth course have wide ranging positive benefits for labour:
Naturally manage pain
May reduce the length of your labour
May lessen the need for interventions including c-section
Give mum a feel of control and lessen anxiety
May lead to higher APGAR score for baby (assessment of baby wellbeing after birth)
Sounds good doesn't it!
The Science Bit
So if you are not clicking your fingers or swinging pendulums to send me to sleep, what is going on ? ...
HYPNOBIRTHING = A RANGE OF TECHNIQUES TO KEEP YOU CALM AND RELAXED DURING LABOUR
Let's talk hormones for a bit.
Humans are mammals, like your pet dog or cat, and instinctively as animals we have a built in natural 'fight or flight' response to danger. Think about what happens when you find yourself in a situation that makes you feel anxious: often your heart might race, you might sweat a bit and you feel an overwhelming urge to either escape or square up to the perceived threat. The body produces a cocktail of hormones which shut down all non-essential processes like digestion and blood flows to our extremities so we have strength to run or fight.
Physiologically, women have not changed for many thousands of years and our bodies still react in this primal way. Would any other mammal want to give birth if there was danger around? - no. Whilst modern-day mum-to-be doesn't have to deal with the threat of a saber-toothed tiger like our ancestors, our bodies are still programmed to react to threats in the same way as our cave-women relatives once did.
How does the 'fight or flight' response impact labour - One of the hormones we produce when we are scared in adrenaline and adrenaline is very very good at stamping all over and scaring away the principal hormone we need for the progression of labour = OXYTOCIN
Oxytocin is the driving force in labour. It makes your contractions longer and stronger to help your cervix dilate and helps the muscles of your uterus push your baby downwards. It is also the 'love hormone' which promotes bonding with your baby after birth.
YOUR BODY NEEDS OXYTOCIN SO YOUR LABOUR CAN PROGRESS
During labour, your body responds to the environment around you - remember that basic survival instinct we have inherited from our ancestors. You do not have to fear the saber-toothed tiger but your body is still 'triggered' by factors in your environment which can make you feel fearful or out of control. Maybe it is strange noises coming from the labour ward or someone entering your birthing space without knocking. These can cause a spike in adrenaline during a time when we need to be as relaxed as possible so oxytocin can do its job.
If you are scared in labour, the adrenaline levels rise and as a result, your labour is likely to be longer than the person who has remained calm, muscles relaxed and in a good head-space.
Surely, that is all easier said than done right? ...
During labour and birth there are distractions a plenty: midwives checking your blood pressure every 20 minutes, noises on the ward, beeping machinery and members of staff popping in and out. Even during a home-birth there can still be distractions which can make it hard for you to stay in the labour 'zone.'
A hypnobirthing course will give you the tools and skills you need to take yourself into a place of deep relaxation and help you create an environment which is calm for birth. Birth partners can also learn how to provide effective support to mum so she can concentrate on labouring with all those positive labour hormones whizzing about.
If I learn hypnobirthing will my birth be pain free? ...
The simple answer is no. I cannot promise you a pain free birth but many mums who have used hypnobirthing techniques say it makes their contractions more bearable. Keep an open mind! Hypnobirthing techniques can be used alongside other pain management techniques. It is not a either/or situation.
Why can't I just tell myself to be calm during labour or read a book. What are the benefits of attending a hypnobirthing course?
Hypnobirthing techniques need to be learnt and practiced before the big day. You need to be able to fall back into a state of deep relaxation after every interruption or distraction and this takes time to learn.
You won't just learn about hypnobirthing techniques on my course. We will look at labour physiology and your labour and birth choices so you can feel confident about your decisions.
There are many benefits to completing an in person or online hypnobirthing course compared to reading a book. Why choose me ....
I can tailor a hypnobirthing course to your individual needs, particularly if you contact me about a 1:1 bespoke course. A book does not know your circumstances or your reasons why you want to study hypnobirthing
The voice you hear on the audio recordings will be mine - a voice you have come to know and trust, rather than generic audios. These can be adapted to your needs.
Can you realistically get your birth partner to read a hypnobirthing book? I will make sure your birth partner is included in the course and the information provided is just as relevant to them.
You book a group hypnobirthing course you have the chance to meet other couples at the same stage of pregnancy as you who you can share experiences with
The personal touch! I will be contactable by phone, text and email from when you do the course until the birth of your baby to support you further if you need it.
So I don't need be of the mind-set that hypnobirthing is just for people who want to birth without drugs?
Absolutely not! Hypnobirthing courses are attended by people looking to avoid pain-relief during labour all together and by those who are looking at adding self-help skills to their labour and birth tool kit.
Hypnobirthing techniques can be used alongside every type of labour, regardless of what happens on the day:
Caesarean birth (c-sections) planned or emergency
Induction of labour
VBACs (vaginal birth after caesarean)
Home or hospital birth
LOOKING FORWARD TO WORKING WITH YOU! - you have got nothing to lose.