Hypnobirthing is a practice that guides and prepares a pregnant woman for a healthy and beautiful birthing experience.
We’ve all been subjected to hearing the horric birth stories of other women and from these stories we’ve been conditioned to believe that giving birth is one of the most traumatic events, associated with some of the greatest pain, we will ever experience. So, understandably, most of us are pretty terri ed of giving birth. Excited to meet our babies but scared rigid by the act of squeezing them out of a very tiny hole! And this o en means that we’re in the wrong place, mentally and physically, to give birth healthily.
Hypnobirthing aims to change all this by promoting a different attitude to the usual way we think and talk about labour and birth. It does this by addressing both the psychological and physical process of labour and helps to prepare the mind by understanding the needs of the body.
The idea behind the ‘hypno’ part of hypnobirthing is that when we’re in a very deep state of relaxation our minds are more open to suggestions, which can help to change our deep-seated beliefs. Therefore by accessing this deep state of relaxation, whilst preparing for birth, we can in uence our minds and change our beliefs around childbirth. This process is thought to help replace the fear and anxiety that we may be feeling with positive anticipation and confidence.
Hypnobirthing is often used as a natural form of pain relief in labour and certainly promotes using breath and meditation rather than drugs. In theory this means that we give birth as nature intended, as naturally, calmly and peacefully as possible.
The principles of hypnobirthing include:
- That the female body is designed to give birth
- That staying in an upright position can help to shorten the length of labour
- That the stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol, inhibit labour by reducing the blood ow to the uterus. By being scared during labour the body goes into a ght or ight mode, directing blood (and oxygen) away from the uterine muscles (needed for contracting the baby out) and to the large muscles in your limbs, which are needed for ghting or running away
- That stress hormones stop your body from producing oxytocin, the hormone that helps labour and so by remaining relaxed and calm you will prevent adrenalin and cortisol ooding the body and making labour longer and harder than it should be
- That the language we use can make us feel more positive about our ability to labour and birth and less scared of birthing our babies
- That we are in control of our birthing experience and through education about our body and the birthing process, we will have the con dence to make the right decisions rather than be led by doctors or midwives
It is thought that using hypnobirthing (click here for more on hypnobirthing) in labour can result in:
- a shorter first stage labour
- a less intense pain and less need for pain relief
- a shorter stay in hospital
- less tearing of the perineum
If you are interested in hypnobirthing there are courses that you can take to learn the principles and techniques.
The best time to start classes is when you are 25 – 29 weeks pregnant. By starting the course at this time you will have enough time to practise the techniques that you will learn so that you can use them effectively in labour. If you do plan on attending a course I definitely recommend taking your birth partner with you. You’ll learn about anchoring, massaging and breathing techniques that your partner will be able to help you with before and during labour.
By learning and practising these techniques in the months and weeks before you give birth it is more likely that you will be able to draw on them and use them correctly when your time comes. Your birthing partner will be able to help you through this and support you more effectively if they have learnt and practiced them with you in advance.