This is one of the most frequently asked questions I receive from new clients. There’s not a set ‘best time’ for learning hypnobirthing, as it all depends on your own personal circumstances and preferences. So, sorry there is no straight answer! But, here are some points for you to consider.
Learning hypnobirthing before 12 weeks pregnant
For some this might seem crazy early to start learning hypnobirthing. However, I’ve had enquiries from ladies as early as 6 weeks. I have also come across people reading up on hypnobirthing before they have even conceived.
A full hypnobirthing course is a financial investment, so understandably many would prefer to wait until after their 12 week scan. There are other ways for learning hypnobirthing though, without doing a course. You could start out by reading some books. Although they cost money, they are often a cheaper alternative to a hypnobirthing course. My top three that I recommend are The Hypnobirthing Book by Katharine Graves, The Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill and Your Baby, Your Birth by Hollie de Cruz.
There are also ways to begin learning hypnobirthing for free. You could talk to friends who have done it, read some online positive birth blogs or start following hypnobirthing social media accounts. If you’re not already following me online my facebook link is here, and my instagram account is here!
Learning hypnobirthing at 12-20 weeks pregnant
In the Uk pregnant women go for a second scan at 20 weeks. Although this is when you can find out the gender of your baby, the main purpose of the 20 week scan is to check the baby is developing well. So again, it is personal preference whether you would like to make a commitment to learning hypnobirthing before 20 weeks.
The main benefit of learning hypnobirthing before 20 weeks is that it gives you more time to practice. One of the main aspects of hypnobirthing is relaxation, which is a skill that gets easier the more you practice. In this sense the earlier the better.
Another benefit of starting early is that on a hypnobirthing course you will learn what your options are for pregnancy and birth. You will also learn how to make good decisions for your individual situation. If you have already done a course early in pregnancy, you will have those decision making skills for every midwife appointment.
The downside to learning hypnobirthing early, is obviously it gives you more time to potentially forget information! You can over come this, by going over course notes if your teacher provided some (I do on my course) re-reading a book or taking a short hypnobirthing refresher class.
Learning hypnobirthing at 20 – 34 weeks pregnant
Most would consider this a great time to learn hypnobirthing. It is a good balance of close enough to your due date so information is fresh in your mind. But early enough into your pregnancy to give you time to practice.
I would say take into account your own circumstances. For example, if you have high anxiety about pregnancy or birth, you might want to start earlier to ease your fears. Or if you have previously had pre-term labours you might want to start earlier, in case it happens again.
Learning hypnobirhing late in pregnancy
A lot of women study hypnobirthing past 34 weeks pregnant. Often this is because as their due date gets closer they start to research birth options, so only hear about hypnobirthing late in pregnancy. Learning hypnobirthing past 34 weeks obviously does not give much time to practice. However, some practice is always better than none. Also, it is worth remembering that hypnobirthing is much more than learning relaxations. It is a full antenatal program that will educate you on your birth options and how to work towards a positive birth. It is never too late to learn this information. So even if you are past 34 weeks pregnant, I would still recommend booking a hypnobirthing course. Many courses are spread out over four weeks, so you might want to enquire about a fast track course. This is when the course is condensed into two days, or one weekend. This makes it more likely you will finish the course if you go into labour early.
When I was pregnant I did my hypnobirthing course over weeks 33-37 of my pregnancy. I still went on to have a brilliant three hour, drug free birth, which you can read about here. Which really does prove it’s never too late!