When you hear the term ‘hypno’ or ‘hypnosis’, your first thought might be about losing or surrendering control… yet the hypnobirthing method is the complete opposite! Hypnobirthing combines deep relaxation techniques and self-hypnosis, also sometimes called ‘focussed relaxation’. These techniques enable you as a mother in labour to remain in control of the birth process. The skills learned can help you focus, feel calm, and release any fear you may be experiencing.
Who is hypnobirthing for?
Hypnotherapy birthing is for parents who ideally are hoping for a natural childbirth. The foundation of hypnobirthing is the premise that our bodies are created for childbirth and instinctively know what to do. By feeling calm and focussed we release endorphins, our natural feel good relaxant, which replaces our stress hormones and relieves pain.
Does this mean that hypnobirthing will not benefit you if your require a caesarean? Not at all – in fact the practices learned can be used no matter how your birth process unfolds. The purpose of the lessons learned using the hypnobirthing method is to prepare you to meet whatever turn your birthing takes in a calm way.
What can I expect to learn at hypnobirthing classes?
Hypnotherapy birthing techniques may vary depending on you practitioner, but the course is holistic and focusses on multiple aspects of pregnancy, birthing, and the postpartum experience. Apart from the tools of the hypnobirthing method you will gain a lot of other information that will be helpful regardless of the birthing process.
In class you will learn how to stay relaxed and calm using the techniques taught. You will also learn to recognise when you are feeling stressed or anxious so that you can take action to return to a calm state. You will learn how to remove elements that might cause anxiety in the birthing environment, and explore triggers that may cause you stress such as your own expectations, fears, and doubts.
Topics that may be covered include:
- Breathing and relaxation techniques
- Self-hypnosis (or focussed relaxation)
- Massage techniques
- Birthing positions
- What your baby experiences in the womb
- Pregnancy nutrition
- How labour may be managed
- Preparation of your own personal birthing plan
- Practices for your partner or birth companion during your pregnancy and labour
- Bonding with your baby
- The fourth trimester
These topics all contribute to a positive pregnancy and birthing experience.
When should I start hypnobirthing classes?
Any time after the 20-week mark is a good time to begin classes. Some of the techniques may take a while to master, and so the more time you have to practice, the better. While you might feel comfortable with the techniques after only two weeks, 6-8 weeks is an ideal length of time to become confident with the tools you are learning. Practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the easier it will be to attain the deep levels of relaxation that are helpful during birth.
Hypnotherapy birthing techniques contribute to a positive mindset and combat anxiety. This can help ensure that the third trimester of your pregnancy is as stress-free as possible. If you are already quite far along in your pregnancy you may wonder whether you can benefit from using hypnotherapy methods. With only a few weeks of practice, you will find yourself able to implement many of the skills you have learned. You can consider adding hypnotherapy birthing techniques to your birth preparation right up to 32-34 weeks of pregnancy.
Can I expect a painless birth?
You may have heard that the hypnobirthing method results in a painless birth. This may be true for some mothers, but every person is different and some people experience pain more easily or more severely. Likewise, circumstances may arise during birth that lead to pain. Pain is body’s way of telling us that something is wrong, and we should pay attention to it. The more you are able to practice the techniques learned though, the less fear, anxiety, and pain you are likely to feel.
What about epidurals and other forms of pain relief?
Hypnobirthing and pain-relief measures such as epidurals are also not mutually exclusive. While mindful hypnobirthing methods may be enough to reduce or eliminate the need for pain relief medication, it is possible to combine these methods with other pain relief interventions when necessary. Keep in mind that some pain medication may affect your mental state, for example make you drowsy or feel less in control. These medications may affect your ability to implement the tools and techniques you learn effectively.
Benefits of hypnobirthing
One of the biggest benefits of hypnobirthing is that the techniques learned allow you to be present in the moment rather than worrying about the future or thinking about the past. This practice of mindful hypnobirthing will anchor you in the present. You remain aware of what is happening around you and focussed on what you are doing without being over-reactive or overwhelmed. In this mindful state, it is possible to experience a calm and relaxed birth process.
Mothers who have used hypnotherapy birthing techniques report:
- Feeling in control of their bodies and the birthing process
- Less pain than expected
- Little or no interventions during birth
- Using breathing techniques instead of pushing to prevent pelvic floor damage
- An engaged partner or birth companion
- A calmer baby as a result of a calmer birth environment
A calmer, kinder, and gentler birth process is beneficial for mother, partner, and baby. The educational aspects of the course empower parents during pregnancy and in the birth process, but also postpartum. With the inclusion of partners and birth companions in the process, family bonding is promoted and birthing parents often report feeling well supported during their recovery.
The thought of giving birth can be overwhelming and frightening, but practices such as hypnotherapy can empower you in such a way that you feel in control throughout the process!