What is Hypnobirthing?
Many celebrities and even Royalty have brought HypnoBirthing into the media spotlight over the recent years – you may or may not have heard the term banded about – but how much do you know about it? Let’s take a look at what HypnoBirthing is and how it can help you during your birth.
Before we look at what’s involved in HypnoBirthing I want to clear up a common misconception – this is not someone swinging a pocket watch in front of your face and putting you in a trance or even worse getting you to walk round like a chicken or some other crazy act that you see on television when people are supposedly hypnotised!! Wipe that image out of your head – this is not HypnoBirthing!!
How would you describe HypnoBirthing?
Some people describe HypnoBirthing as a form of pain management; others refer to it as a birth education programme. I feel it encompasses both of these and much more besides.
It’s a way to mentally prepare for birth, learn what happens during birth and get your head around things – same goes for your partner too.
It also educates you to release any fear or anxiety you may be holding about giving birth, or maybe a previous birth trauma.
It’s a bonding experience for you and baby, you and your partner and for partner and baby too! It brings the 3 of you closer together as you practice the techniques in readiness for birth.
Both you and your partner will learn techniques to relax and de-stress; these can be used in pregnancy and for the rest of your lives – not just for birth. In fact there’s some evidence to show that it can lower the chance of postnatal depression too.
It’s a way to really involve your partner on the day; HypnoBirthing arms them with suggested ways to touch you, massage you or speak to you which enables you to remain calm and focused. So rather than feeling helpless they actually become a central part of the birth and play a more active role in your labour.
When it comes to it and you go into labour, HypnoBirthing is certainly a form of pain management – it is a way of coping with labour and feeling more in control.
How do I learn HypnoBirthing?
There are several ways in which you can access the HypnoBirthing techniques; they all require you (and ideally your birthing partner too) to devote time to learning and practicing the techniques. There is a vast difference in price so both your budget and time available may have a part to play in which method you choose.
It’s quite rare to find HypnoBirthing classes offered by the NHS because it requires the teacher to be specially trained in this technique, therefore you will be looking at paying for a private class. Some providers offer a full one day course as a one-off which makes it easier to fit into your diary, however other providers provide a course of 3-4 sessions which allows you time to go at a slower pace, practice techniques each week and make friends with others in the group. Some classes are aimed at small groups whereas others are geared to a just you and your partner with the practitioner. Like I’ve already mentioned groups are a great way to meet other like minded parents-to-be (this is why NCT is so popular), however the individual classes are great for those who would struggle to fit group dates into their diaries, or who want a more tailored service to meet their needs and their own concerns.
Most courses will offer a book and sometimes also a CD to support your learning. Some HypnoBirthing practitioners will be either Midwives, Hypnotherapists or Psychotherapists who have chosen to specialise with additional training to be able to teach these techniques. However others such as Doulas, NCT teachers, yoga teachers and Complimentary health practitioners can also train to offer HypnoBirthing after they have attended practitioner courses.
If you have a busy diary and can’t make classes in your local area, or maybe the cost puts you off, then there are several online courses that bring the class to you in the comfort of your own home when it’ convenient for you. You can binge watch, stop and start when you need the loo but remember you won’t have the instructor to personally guide you if you’re struggling with something.
As already mentioned some of the classes available to you have books that accompany the course, these books are available to buy on their own. So if time or budget prevents you from accessing a local class you can just read the book instead, it will give you a good basis for HypnoBirthing but it may make it harder for you to learn together as a couple or really understand if you are doing it right. Some of the books include links to online downloadable audio files to listen to the music and HypnoBirthing scripts.
Audio files, CDs, MP3 files
There are also many options to learn the techniques by listening to CD’s or downloadable music files that can be bought off the internet. These are great if you want to lie on your bed & pop your headphones on to relax. However some people are visual learners so may prefer to combine these audio files with reading a book or attending a class.
How does HypnoBirthing work?
HypnoBirthing works on the concept that fear and tension makes pain feel worse, so the more anxious and frightened you are, the more it will hurt. We also know that adrenaline (the stress hormone) can knock off oxytocin (the hormone that’s involved in your contractions) and endorphins (your body’s natural pain killing response). Therefore it makes perfect sense to be as relaxed as possible during your labour. HypnoBirthing is all about keeping you calm, relaxed and focused using a combination of relaxation, self-hypnosis and breathing techniques.
Does HypnoBirthing work?
The jury is out on this one – some research has been done which showed it helped and other research showed it had no affect and then there was research which just admitted that the results were inconclusive and further research was needed. I think like with many options available to use in labour you will find women who loved it and found it really beneficial and then others who found it didn’t work for them.
It’s worth remembering that every woman and every labour is different so you will never get a something that works for everyone! Take a look at the celebrities who talk about HypnoBirthing and some will sing its praises whereas others will say they still felt pain but then also comment that felt more in control and less frightened.
They are also plenty of women who end up with births that become stressful due to interventions including caesarean sections and these women often comment that they still used the HypnoBirthing techniques to help them remain calm, focused and in their zone and thereby avoiding panic at the time.
Who can use HypnoBirthing?
Absolutely anyone can use HypnoBirthing during childbirth. I often refer to having an imaginary toolbox to take into labour with you, packed full of all the techniques and methods of pain relief that you want to access. For example massage, aromatherapy, being mobile, music etc; so HypnoBirthing can be added into the mix. Whether you are planning a home birth or hospital birth, a natural birth or a medical induction – HypnoBirthing can be used in all of these situations.
HypnoBirthing is particularly amazing if you are frightened of giving birth or are a naturally anxious person. It also works really well if you are someone who is used to being in control and the thought of being out of control in labour fills you with fear.
Using HypnoBirthing does not stop you from accessing other forms of pain relief, so if you start off with this and find you need to move onto options such as Diamorphine or an epidural that’s absolutely fine, no one is going to deny you these choices. So by choosing HypnoBirthing you have nothing to lose and potentially a great experience to gain.
During your pregnancy factors may come into play that results in you requiring different advice – in these circumstances, you should seek direct advice from you own Midwife/Doctor according to your situation.
If you are unsure about anything or have any concerns whilst pregnant please speak to your Midwife.