Hypnobirthing – all you need to knowPublished on
The thought of giving birth, especially if it’s your first time, can be daunting to say the least. And for some women it’s a cause of major trepidation. In a bid to make labour and birth a positive experience, more and more women are turning to Hypnobirthing.
We’ve asked Katie Yorath of Heavenly Hypnobirthing to talk about what the technique is, what it isn’t, and how you could benefit from it.
What is Hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing is a collection of techniques, including breathing, guided relaxations, and visualisation that help to facilitate a positive birth experience - whatever that looks like for you. Hypnobirthing can help you go from being anxious and worried to feeling calm and even looking forward to giving birth.
Can it promise a pain-free birth?
Hypnobirthing cannot promise a pain free birth, but it can give you the tools to navigate childbirth - no matter what route your labour takes. I teach these techniques along with a complete antenatal programme that covers birth physiology and the practical aspects of preparing for birth, so my clients feel fully informed and empowered.
Who is Hypnobirthing suitable for?
Everyone! Whether you are classed as having a low risk pregnancy, or are under consultant-led care, Hypnobirthing is useful in any number of birth scenarios. I also teach a Positive Caesarean workshop as Hypnobirthing can help with achieving a positive birth experience in these circumstances too. The techniques can be taught to anyone; the main point really is putting in the time to practice. It is only through practice and repeating those positive messages that our subconscious really starts to believe that childbirth isn't something to fear.
Can I learn it with my partner?
Absolutely, I positively encourage birth partners to attend my classes. A birth partner has such a key role to play, practically and emotionally (not just sitting there eating all your labour snacks)! Having a birth partner attend the course means they understand the theory and practice of Hypnobirthing and will be able to support you no matter what happens.
What kind of techniques are used?
Hypnobirthing uses a combination of affirmations, breathing techniques, visualisation and massage, coupled with an in-depth understanding of what happens in your mind and body during labour. You use this information along with practical techniques to enter into self-hypnosis (not at all like stage hypnosis), a deep state of relaxation that allows you to work in harmony with your body. It's actually based in science, and there’s not a whiff of joss sticks about it (unless joss sticks are your thing, of course).
What are the benefits?
You are likely to experience a more comfortable labour and birth, though it's important to recognise that a pain-free birth is not the focus of Hypnobirthing. Your baby is more likely to be born into a relaxed environment, be alert, calm, feed better and sleep better as they have been brought into the world at their own pace in a calmer and gentler way. The length of labour is often shorter when using Hypnobirthing and you are less likely to require drugs or medical intervention. Mums often return to their pre-birth wellness quicker and the birth partner will have a key role to play in providing support.
When should I start to learn Hypnobirthing?
I usually suggest anytime from 25 weeks onwards. Certainly once you've had your 20 week scan. However, it is possible to do a condensed course that teaches the fundamentals if you are getting closer to your "guess" date!
Is it effective if I've had previous birth trauma?
A lot of people find out about Hypnobirthing second time round after having a traumatic first birth experience. Hypnobirthing is very effective at dealing with fears and concerns around pregnancy and childbirth, and there are lots of accounts of mothers who go on to have positive subsequent births after practicing Hypnobirthing. However, if there are deep rooted anxieties or fears, I would additionally recommend seeking the help of a qualified Birth Trauma specialist.
Will my midwife/doctor know about Hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing is becoming more recognised as a useful tool for expectant mums, and certainly in maternity settings the vast majority of healthcare professionals would be familiar with the term (if not the exact details of how it works). NICE guidance says that women who use hypnosis for childbirth in labour should be supported to do so. It is definitely something to mention to your community midwife and also to include on your birth plan. When you call the hospital or labour line in your area, once in the early stages of labour, do let them know you are using Hypnobirthing. You may sound a lot calmer than they are expecting, and therefore may be further along in your labour!
Is Hypnobirthing safe?
Yes, you are completely safe. You cannot get stuck in hypnosis, or made to do anything you don't want to do. You will retain full control of your faculties! The "hypno" bit of Hypnobirthing refers to where you enter into a deep state of self-hypnosis using guided relaxations. The whole aim of these relaxations (where you are more open to suggestion) is to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Never fear, you won't be clucking like a chicken!
How can I learn about Hypnobirthing?
The best way to learn is with the full support of a qualified instructor. You should be able to find a Hypnobirthing instructor local to you, who knows the situation with local maternity services and can tailor the course to fit your individual circumstances. You can benefit from asking questions and getting immediate answers too. If the course is spread out over a number of days or weeks, that also gives an added incentive to practice in between sessions! Like any new skill, having trained support in person is the most effective way to learn.
Katie Yorath teaches Hypnobirthing in Southampton. View her website here. A internet search will help you find an expert in your area.
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