How Hypnobirthing can help mums to be - Shona Baxter

The term hypnobirthing may be the birthing buzz word of the moment but the basic principles of this crazy sounding birth preparation have actually been around for years. Whilst the name may bring images of peace signs and chanting the reality is that it is a very logical, science-based and practical way of preparing for labour.

To understand how hypnobirthing can help you achieve a more calm and positive birth experience it is important to understand why we even need it in the first place.

A few generations ago pregnant women generally went into labour and birthed their babies without too much fuss. As time has gone on we have become a little bit obsessed with dramatizing birth. How many of us have been gripped to the TV watching a birth documentary hoping for a safe outcome, crying with relief when the baby arrives? Or listened intently as a friend told us about a horrific sounding 39-hour labour?!

What these stories have done to us over time is make us fear birth. We have watched and heard so many negative birth stories that we now actually doubt our ability to give birth  (even if it is just on a subconscious level) regardless of the fact that it is what our bodies are designed to do.

Now think about what our bodies and brains do when we fear something. We are provided with a physical and chemical response to the situation known as fight or flight. A very clever response to help get us out of a situation we don’t want to be in. The adrenaline pumping around our body will give us superhuman strength, the blood will be sent to our arms and legs so we can fight the fear or run away from it, our breathing pace changes and the oxygen is directed to the muscles that need it the most, we shake, get sweaty and tense up.

If a pregnant women goes into labour and begins to panic at the sensations she is feeling, the fight or flight response will kick in, having a monumental impact on the birth experience. The adrenaline will block all GOOD birth hormones that we need to help us labour more comfortably (endorphins are known as nature’s own pain relief and are stronger than morphine) and the blood and oxygen are directed away from our uterus, which is the muscle that needs them the most. Without blood and oxygen, the uterus cannot work efficiently and therefore will alert our brain to the fact that something is wrong. And how do we ever know something is wrong with our bodies…Pain.

These pain signals reinforce the reason why the woman began to panic in the first place and thus the cycle continues.

So how does Hypnobirthing help?

Hypnobirthing courses are designed to help build a women’s confidence about birth. Using simple and powerful techniques to reduce fears and concerns replacing them with trust and empowerment.

All practitioners will have a different style and different course content but the basic underlying principle will always be to change how we feel about birth. For some women that can just be worried about feeling out of control, for others it can be the trauma of a previous birth meaning they doubt their abilities.

If you were to book on to a course you can expect to learn

  • how to harness those good birth hormones to make us feel more comfortable during labour
  • creating the best birth environment
  • how to keep that fight or flight response at bay
  • how to feel more relaxed during labour
  • breathing techniques to keep you and your baby calm
  • plus much much more!

Many courses are up to 10-12 hours long and practitioners will offer lots of additional support and encouragement to ensure everyone feels positive about birth.

The tools and techniques taught can be used no matter what twists and turns labour may take. They can be used for any type of birth too, Caesarean, Induction, first baby, fifth baby!

Birth partners also really benefit from doing the course, learning how they can be the best support for the birthing women and not feel like a spare part.


If you are considering Hypnobirthing I encourage you to do some research, find and chat with your local practitioner and speak with other women you know who have done a course. Really work out what you would like to achieve and remember, this is the first time you are going to meet your baby, you both deserve for it to be a positive and amazing experience.


My top tip for mums to be would be to create a relaxation routine during pregnancy. Take 20 mins out before bed to listen to some nice music, practice some deep breathing and spray the sleepy mama pillow mist. Then when you do go into labour you can take your music and pillow must with you and instantly transport your mind back to a space of calm. 


Wishing you all the very best in your pregnancy and birth! 


Shona is the founder of Empowered Hypnobirthing and delivers courses in the North East of England. 

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