What is Hypnobirthing?
Now, more than ever, women are looking for alternatives to pharmacological pain relief which, although usually providing good relief in labour, may not be available until admission to labour ward, may have unwanted or unpleasant side effects and, rarely, may cause complications for mum and/or baby. Here we’re going to cover hypnobirthing and how it can help with your preganancy.
Alternative comfort measures can be used at any time and can involve your birthing partner, making it a bonding opportunity for the whole family.
At Private Midwives, we support our clients to consider a wealth of comfort measures proven to reduce the need for pharmacological pain relief such as warm water (showers or birth pool), aromatherapy, massage, TENS and hypnobirthing. All of our midwives support Hypnobirthing, and many are trained Hypnobirthing teachers, so today we are going to explore this amazing approach to labour.
The umbilical cord serves as a lifeline, connecting your baby to the placenta within your womb. It is a flexible tube containing blood vessels that carry essential nutrients and oxygen from you to your baby. Simultaneously, waste products and carbon dioxide from your baby’s system are transported back to your body for elimination. In essence, the umbilical cord acts as a vital bridge, nourishing and sustaining your growing little one.
What it is hypnobirthing and who is it for?
People’s reactions to the word hypnobirthing the first time they hear about it are variable.
“What is it and why would it work for me?”
“It sounds wishy-washy, is that a hippie thing?”
“Isn’t it only for home birth?”
The truth I have come to learn through teaching hypnobirthing and attending births at home, in birth centres, in labour wards and in operating theatres is that hypnobirthing is a versatile tool for comfort, relaxation and empowerment for everyone, regardless of what kind of birth you are planning and where you are planning it.
Hypnobirthing is a complete antenatal preparation because it incorporates the study of the physiology of pregnancy and birth with relaxation scripts, deep relaxation techniques and breathing techniques.
Hypnobirthing is not hypnosis, and its techniques won’t take you into a true hypnotic state. It is more about using words used in a positive way to promote deep relaxation.
Does it really work?
Research across the globe suggests that a whole range of positive outcomes are associated with Hypnobirthing, including:
- Shorter mean duration of labour (6.21 hours vs 9.28 hours).
- Women report reduced fear and anxiety.
- Women report an increased sense of control.
- The need for fewer medical interventions (20% vs 70% when an epidural is used).
- Fewer inductions and augmentations of labour (20% vs 40%).
- An increase in spontaneous vaginal birth (caesarean birth rate of 15% vs 32%).
- Overall fewer complications.
- Shorter hospital stay.
- Increased wellbeing and satisfaction, possibly resulting in a reduction in rates of postnatal depression and/or birth trauma.
- Increased involvement of birthing partners.
- Fewer risk of complications for babies .
How Does it Work?
Through Hypnobirthing you will learn:
- About the physiology of pregnancy, birth and in the fourth trimester.
- How your mind and your thoughts can affect your peripheral nervous system and in turn your body. Hypnobirthing aims to keep you in a relaxed state, rather than in a freeze/flight state. Relaxation increases your internal production of oxytocin and endorphins (the feel-good hormones).
- How to reframe negative thinking and self-limiting beliefs. Theses thoughts generate fear, increase tension and adrenaline, interfering with your labour progress and increasing the perception of pain.
- How words and stories hold power over how we feel and how we relate to ourselves, our loved ones and our pregnancies.
- How decision-making is mostly dictated by feelings and not data.
- How to induce a deep state of relaxation through the use of relaxation scripts, audio, visualisations, and deep relaxation techniques.
- How to recall this deep state of relaxation when you need it through the use of anchoring techniques. People use hypnobirthing ahead of an abdominal birth, of challenging appointments, as a comfort measure during labour and birth, to relax while feeding the baby, or before anything challenging/upsetting as life moves on (may that be the dentist or a test!).
- How to use breathing techniques to support the physiology of your body during early labour and 1st stage of labour.
- How to use breathing techniques to support the physiology of the birth mechanisms during the birth of the baby and facilitate a birth gentle on the baby and on the perineum.
- How to foster a feeling of control and empowerment which will allow you to make decisions right for you.
This information along with learning and practicing the techniques of deep relaxation result in the benefits listed above.
How do I Practice Hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing techniques are offered in many different formats including: face-to-face classes, online courses, or simply reading a book and listening to mp3 in your own time. There are different exercises to choose from, but whichever you choose…
…the key is regular practice
The more you practice hypnobirthing the deeper the state of relaxation you will reach and the quicker you will be able to recreate that feeling. Make it a daily routine, even for a few minutes, and running through the exercises with your birthing partner is highly recommended:
- They can help you to use the techniques you’ve learned and even just their voice or their touch may become a relaxation trigger for you in labour.
- Practising in company fosters the development of a deeper connection; it can prompt deeper conversations and explorations of personal fears around the birthing process.
- How a new baby can alter the dynamic of a couple or the stability of a family with other children, is often overlooked. Inclusion of the partner or wider family in the preparation for the birth can foster a positive family dynamic.
- It can help birthing partners to better understand the physiology and life-changing process of pregnancy and birth, and how to support women’s transition in through this amazing process.
What do You Need for Hypnobirthing Practice?
The only thing you need is a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Everything else is optional. Some women like to accompany sessions with an auditory input (music, a relaxation mp3, a birth partner reading), aromatherapy, massage, and acupuncture. If there is anything you want, you can have it; it’s all about you!
It is ideal to practice in a place you will most likely be undisturbed, free of loud noises and bright lights, but any disturbance can be quite welcome! It is all part of the exercise. When you’re in labour, depending on your birth environment, there may be random noises, smells or lights. A healthcare professional may ask to touch you to do your blood pressure or check your pulse. You will learn how to tune out external disturbances to maintain a state of relaxation during labour and birth.
Do not worry if……
- You fall asleep during practice, it means you reached a deep level of relaxation. When we are asleep, our consciousness is asleep and it allows positive messages to flow directly into our subconscious, so it still counts as practice plus you got some rest!
- You have random thoughts during practice. The mind creates thoughts all the time, so it is normal for them to appear during Hypnobirthing practice as well. You will learn over time to acknowledge the thought and let it go, you can finish your shopping list later!
- You find it difficult to relax or you find practice too boring. Not everyone goes into a deep state of relaxation and not everyone loves some of the Hypnobirthing language and tools, but this does not mean you are not reaping any benefits from it. At the very least, it will help you to learn to slow down a little, how your body works during labour and birth and how to make decisions that are right for you based on facts rather than fear.
Hypnobirthing is an amazing tool for your pregnancy, birth, baby days and the rest of your life. Giving you the tools to make informed choices along your maternity journey, and to remain calm and relaxed in any challenging or stressful situation as your life moves forward.
If you have any questions at all about hypnobirthing or your pregnancy please don’t hesitate to contact us