When you’re pregnant it’s inevitable that your thoughts will, sooner or later, turn to the impending birth of your baby. You’re given your estimated due date, and lots of information on how to spot the beginnings of labour, when to call the midwife, what pain relief is available and what to expect if you need a c-section. All of this information and advice is invaluable and we recommend that you read it all- educate yourself on what to expect when the big day arrives, and how best you can care for your body to ensure optimum health throughout your pregnancy. Alongside information on birthing and the different types of births that you can experience, you might also want to consider alternative pain relief methods for use in labour. We’ve put together a quick guide to hypnobirthing- we hope it helps you achieve the birth you really want!
What is hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing can be a wonderful way to embrace your baby’s arrival, and lots of women advocate the techniques they learn on the courses. Put simply, hypnobirthing is an education programme that focuses on self hypnosis with relaxation and breathing techniques that are designed to enhance the birthing experience, and to provide effective mindful pain relief without the need for medication.
Women who practise hypnobirthing during labour are able to breathe effectively through contractions, and lots manage to avoid interventions which can, ultimately, lead to more interventions. More than this, hypnobirthing allows women to fight the fear surrounding childbirth, and releases feelings of joy and elation rather than pain and anxiety. With this in mind, you can see why hypnobirthing techniques are rising in popularity!
Lots of women often feel a lack of control during pregnancy and birth. For nine months, or thereabouts, your body is taken over by pregnancy. You’re no longer in control of the changes that are happening to you, and lots of women find themselves feeling a little detached from it all. It’s not surprising either, when most antenatal appointments focus on baby only, and most classes look at ways to manage pain in labour, rather than embracing the experience. Hypnobirthing, in contrast, teaches women how to take control of the whole process, and be in charge of events during birth.
Hypnobirthing can be very helpful for women who have previously experienced a difficult or traumatic birth too- being able to feel in control over doctors or midwives can often release negativity and anxiety in a way that traditional pain relief cannot.
How- and why- does hypnobirthing work?
A hypnobirthing course will cover aspects of labour and delivery that conventional programmes won’t cover. This includes
● breathing techniques
● learning how to reduce the need for medication for pain relief
● reducing the risk of interventions such as episiotomy
● learning how to feel empowered and in control
● learning how to have confidence and knowledge when dealing with medical staff in a hospital setting
● learning how to expel any mystery or fear surrounding childbirth
● learning how to stay positive
Hypnobirthing works by using specific self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques to reduce pain and aid in the natural delivery of baby. It helps by teaching women to have confidence in their body’s instinctive ability to give birth and relaxes the body and mind to a state where contractions are embraced and the process of giving birth is welcomed.
What are the benefits to mother and baby?
The benefits of learning and practising hypnobirthing are immense! For mother:
● a shorter labour period
● less risk of a surgical birth and fewer interventions in general
● more success of a natural turning of breech babies
● feelings of elation after birth
● retaining learned techniques for future births
● feeling empowered to choose type of birth and birth setting- hospital, home, water, land
● techniques can be used for calm and relaxation at any time and not just during labour and birth
Of course, when it comes to childbirth nothing is assumed and nobody can guarantee it will go one way rather than another. Hypnobirthing does, however, help to equip you with the skills necessary to have the calmest and most natural birth as possible, and the confidence to have a positive experience. There is no such thing as a perfect birth but there is such a thing as taking control over whatever situation arises.
For baby, the benefits are also apparent, as a calmer and more natural birthing experience helps to produce calmer and happier babies too. Absence of pain relief medication means that babies are more alert and able to feed efficiently more quickly, and studies have found that apgar scores can be higher too.
Hypnobirthing is a choice. Pain relief medication is also a choice, and however you decide to birth your baby make sure it is your choice if you can. Please do heed medical advice, but equip yourself with as much knowledge about your body and the process of birth as you can. Knowledge is power and knowing what to expect (as much as you can!) will help you to feel strong and empowered when you need it most.