You may have heard the term ‘hypnobirthing’ being highly acclaimed in one of your antenatal classes, or perhaps from a fellow pregnant mum who always seems to always have her sh*t together? If you are already practising, you are onto a winner. Katie from Peace, Love and Birth joined us at the Hub to talk all things Hypnobirthing.
‘Hypnobirthing’, ‘Hippy Birthing’?…what is it? It doesn’t seem like something that I would connect with?
Ok, I know, its got a shit name! but it’s too late to change it. Hypnobirthing in a nutshell is practical tools and techniques for a positive birth, however it unfolds. It’s all too common these days for women to be afraid of giving birth. Nervous, anxious, worried, uncertain are all words that come up when I ask Ladies how they feel about the prospect of giving birth, Hypnobirthing works on a subconscious AND conscious level to replaces those feelings with a calm confidence, leaving both mama and birth partner feeling informed, empowered and excited to give birth!
Why should I consider it for the birth of my baby?
I strongly believe there is a place for hypnobirthing at every birth. Its a common misconception that it is just for natural or uncomplicated childbirth. YES a big part of what we do is build confidence in the amazing capabilities of your body, but sometimes mother needs a helping hand. I always say that the tools that you learn in Hypnobirthing come into play even more when birth takes an unexpected turn.
A big part of the work we do is about taking ownership for your birth, to recognise that you always have a choice and how to ask the right questions from your care providers to make informed decisions. Research shows that the more involved you are in the decision making process, the happier you are with the outcome, even if it wasn't what you initially wanted.
Does it really make childbirth less painful?
The killer question! It's something I always tackle head on when discussing with clients and I'm not going to sugar coat if for them or you.
It is hard for me to answer though because pain is a very subjective thing. For me, a bikini wax is the most excruciating pain and it makes me cry! To some women its just another part of their monthly self care routine. We all experience and describe pain differently. I know I would rather give birth again than have a 17 hour wax , hands down!
Hypnobirthing targets fears so the body is therefore more relaxed with less physical tension. less physical tension in the body means the muscles work more smoothly and efficiently, working with the body rather than fighting against it. It’s called fear tension pain syndrome and its not exclusive to birth. Check it out!
Our body is designed to release hormones that make our birthing experience more enjoyable and comfortable, easing the sensations of your labour. Having an understanding of your hormones and how to maximise them is pivotal to your birthing experience and key to Hypnobirthing. On my course we openly discuss all pain relief or what I like to call ‘coping strategies’ and lay out the pros and cons with out bias. If you want to have all the drugs, have all the drugs but just know that there's about 25 other things for you to consider too!
So it is not so much about pain management, but being more positive about childbirth etc..Having a sense of control over the situation/being prepared/ convincing or coaching yourself and reclaiming confidence? Yeah - all of that and more!
How soon should I start the Hypnobirthing course?
Any time after 20 weeks, Ideally you would want to have finished any course by 37 weeks though. By that point you are full term. Most couples come to me around the 28 week mark but its just depends their needs. I’ve done intense 121s with couples at 39 weeks before, so its never too late!
Can I practice it at home?
Absolutely! there is only so much we can cover in the sessions and self practice is key. Practice makes positive!
Did you use hypnobirthing yourselves?
Katie – for me, I was terrified of giving birth so I needed all the help I could get. Even from my first Hypnobirthing class, this was powerful shit for me and my partner. We took the course at 34 week so had to go hardcore with the practice. I read, I practiced, I listened, I read some more, I did the homework, watched the videos. I crammed like it was the most important exam of my life! I felt ready and excited after the course. The birth itself was an amazing experience , very different from my initial perception of birth, hard bloody work and not 100 percent to plan but we were ready for that and I only look back on that day with fond memories.
Anisah – Yes I did, and the best thing is you can practice anywhere! I used to listen to my hypnobirthing audio clips in both peaceful and high-pressured environments. So for example, I’d listen to it during rush hour on the train and practice my breathing to calm my nerves. But I’d also listen to it in the bath, or before going to bed to relax. This really helped me to adapt to any situation.
Nyree - I actually wasn't familiar with hypnobirthing during my pregnancy and didn't learn about until some months after having my son. After doing a bit of research it would have been something that I would have definitely considered had I known about it.
Katie is a qualified hypnobirthing practitionerand who runs a Hypnobirthing course based in Walthamstow, East London. Katie offers a no-bullsh*t breakdown of how birth actually works, from the science and biology down to the logistics of hospitals and home births.