The ultimate guide to hypnobirthing
You might have heard of hypnobirthing and wondered what exactly it is, what the benefits are and whether it is something you might want to use when giving birth? Many women discount hypnobirthing because it sounds a bit ‘hippy’ or the word ‘hypno’ is a bit off-putting.
Our guide is written by hypnobirthing teachers in Surrey and explains everything you need to know, including the benefits hypnobirthing can have when preparing for and giving birth.
What is hypnobirthing?
‘Hypnobirthing is a practical toolkit you and your birth partner practice during pregnancy and use in birth to reduce fear and stress, as well as understand what’s happening in the process.’
What does the practical tool kit involve?
Hey Mama Hypnobirthing founder Rachel Clark offering hypnobirthing classes in Surrey, describes what you might expect to be taught in a hypnobirthing course:
- the link between the mind and body, including listening and practising relaxation scripts,
- what happens to your body before, during and after labour and how you can work with your hormones (not against them!)
- tools and techniques to help you make decisions based on facts, not fear
- how you can plan for your birth & postnatal period
What does the ‘hypno’ element means?
Megan from Positively Birthing, Surrey and London dispels this myth a lot! ‘When most of us thing of being ‘hypnotised’ it brings up images of swinging pocket watches, clicking fingers, clucking like a chicken or being made to do things you aren’t in control of. So, no, it’s nothing like that! In fact it’s a far reach from any of the Darren Brown style stage hypnosis that might spring to mind when someone says ‘hypnotised’.
Actually, hypnobirthing is based on the practice of hypnotherapy, which is grounded in science and has been recommended by doctors for decades to effectively help manage many things, from fears and phobias, to anxiety or even losing weight or quitting smoking!
The practice of hypnotherapy does in fact mean you will enter a state called ‘hypnosis’, which sounds ridiculous, until I tell you you’ve probably already been in a hypnosis state today!
You know that dozy state when you wake up in the morning, or as you drift of to sleep at night? Or if you drive a familiar route, get five minutes down the road and realise you can’t remember anything you just did? That’s a hypnosis state!
And when our minds are in this state, we are susceptible to taking in information, which will begin to sit in the subconscious part of our minds, which is how hypnobirthing works to begin to re-frame any negative or fearful ideas we have about birth and replace these with positive, confident ones!
So that by the time we go into labour, wefeel powerful and excited about what is to come, which in itself is actually going to impact the physiological process of labour itself!
Through the practice of hypnobirthing, we will be able to enter this deeply relaxed state voluntarily meaning we can use it as a tool for keeping calm and managing the sensations of labour, whilst remaining in the part of our nervous systems where we produce all the hormones we need to give birth!’
What are the benefits of hypnobirthing?
There are many potential benefits of using hypnobirthing techniques including:
- breathing techniques to decrease stress and promote relaxation in pregnancy, during birth and through parenthood.
- giving your birth partner a clear role and confidence during pregnancy and birth
- understanding your body and how to workwith your hormones
- framework for making decisions based on facts and evidence
If I do hypnobirthing, does it mean it won’t hurt?
Leah from Pure Peach explains ‘Using Hypnobirthing techniques will not guarantee you a pain free birth, but it can make a huge difference when it comes to labour pains. How?
Your uterus is a big bag of muscles and we know that relaxed muscles work better than tense muscles. What hypnobirthing does is give you and your partner lots of tools and techniquesto help you to relax physically so that you are more comfortable.
Understanding the fear – pain – tension cycle and how to break the loop of fear causing pain, which then causes tension, which then leads to more fear, more pain and more tension is really important when looking at reducing pain.
Hypnobirthing techniques can be used with any type of labour, in any location – it’s not about ‘doing’ hypnobirthing *or* having pain relief.
Confidence and emotional relaxation is just as important as physical relaxation and the two are of course completely linked. Hypnobirthing focuses on the language you use and how your subconscious and conscious both play an important part in both your pregnancy and labour. The ‘Hypno’ element is really powerful and is an important part of your preparation during pregnancy.
Most Hypnobirthing courses will also include full birth preparation information too. Things like the physiology of birth, the hormones, active birth and optimal fetal positioning, your choices and rights, ‘what if’ scenarios, navigating the NHS maternity system, making informed decisions, realistic expectations and lots more. This further supports how comfortable you are physically because you’ll feel more confident and in control.’
Does hypnobirthing only work if you plan a drug-free, water birth?
‘Hypnobirthing isn’t something you just “do” on the day. You’re “doing” hypnobirthing from the first day you start your practice (practice includes breathing and visualisation techniques and listening to relaxation scripts). From that moment, you are starting to replace any fear and negativity you might have about birth with positivity and confidence. The more you practice, the stronger and more effective this can be.
By the time you give birth, you’ll be feeling calm, confident and even excited (yes, excited!) about your baby’s birth. This, in turn, will allow your body to remain relaxed and, therefore, feel comfortable during labour and your baby’s birth. The power of hypnobirthing will be there for you, sat in your subconscious, ready to call on, whenever and wherever you give birth.
Sometimes, we can plan and plan for our baby’s birth but we just don’t know what will happen on the day. That’s not to say that there aren’t elements you can control – there certainly are – but if you’ve got a toolbox full of tools to use, no matter what journey your birth experience may take, then you’ll feel more in control and calm on the day. That is key to a positive birth experience.
Finally, environment is key for a woman birthing her baby. You wouldn’t see any other mammal giving birth lying flat on her back, in a brightly lit room with strangers coming in and out. And yet women are expected to birth their baby’s in hospital like this! You are a mammal. You have instincts and you will do everything in your power to protect that little baby inside your tummy. You won’t bring him/her into the world if you don’t feel safe.
So, whether you birth your baby at home or in hospital, you can control elements of your environment – low lighting (even if you’re in delivery suite, ask for the lights to be dimmed), conversation kept to a minimum, music, use smells to relax you, know who is in the room and why at all times, use different positions (just because there’s a bed in the room, does not mean you have to use it), bring photos from home.
Hypnobirthing teaches you the importance of environment so, no matter where you are, you will feel safe and produce all the right hormones for birth.’
Difficult first birth? Can hypnobirthing work for you?
Lynsey, independent midwife and hypnobirthing instructor says ‘This is a question I get asked a lot! The answer is absolutely YES! I often find that when talking about first pregnancies/birth women and their families didn’t know all of their options. They attended Antenatal classes and did all they could to prepare but actually never discussed what happens if things don’t go to plan.
The great thing about a Hypnobirthing course is it gives you a set of tools and techniques to use throughout pregnancy, birth and into parenthood and can be transferred to everyday life situations as well. The tools are there to help you stay calm, relaxed and to help you make informed decisions about your care, even when the path deviates from the norm.
Hypnobirthing courses are designed to help you navigate whatever paths your journey through pregnancy takes and the tools are there to support you in decision making and gaining confidence in being able to ask questions that you might not have asked before. Being able to use the ‘Brains’ Acronym and discuss the Benefits, Risk, Alternatives, listening to your Instincts, asking what happens if we do Nothing, and being able to stay calm and Smile! Is an invaluable tool.
Hypnobirthing instructors are a pool of knowledge and resources and can guide you through and will support you every step of the way. Some may have a speciality in supporting women and partners who have had previous difficult experiences and may be able to provide added services.’
When you should start hypnobirthing classes?
Georgina from Magnificent Mama advises ‘You can begin your Hypnobirthing classes whenever you would like, but I find it’s most effective if you begin between the 20-28 week mark. This way, you are normally over some of the tiredness of the first trimester (although everyone is different) so you will be in a better place to take all of the information in. You will also still have plenty of time to practise throughout the rest of your pregnancy.
However, many women don’t find out about Hypnobirthing until much later in pregnancy and it is effective at any stage, so long as you practice!’
Should I bring my birth partner to the Hypnobirthing classes?’
‘Absolutely. Your birth partner has a really important role to play during your labour and birth, and they will learn exactly what this role entails during the Hypnobirthing classes. They will not only learn how to best support you, they will also learn what they can do to ensure that they too have an enjoyable birth experience.
It’s so easy for birth partners to feel like a ‘third wheel’ during childbirth, but Hypnobirthing teaches them what they can do, how they do it and why it is important. By the end of the Hypnobirthing course, they will feel 100% confident about their role and will be looking forward to the birth as much as you (the mother) are.’
Hypnobirthing classes in Surrey
The Luna Hive has hypnobirthing classes across Surrey covering areas including Cobham, Thames Ditton, Redhill, Betchworth, Guildford, Weybridge, Reigate, Coulsdon, Croydon and more!