Hypnobirthing techniques and how to use them for a positive labour
Before I got pregnant I had never heard of hypnobirthing. I am sure that plenty of other people also have never heard of it. Those that have heard of hypnobirthing seem to have a mistaken idea of what it actually involves. The name itself is pretty weird and misleading! Many believe that you actually become hypnotised or in a trance, that it’s only for hippy earth parents, or that it’s only for home births or drug free births. This article will hopefully explain the basics of hypnobirthing, and give you an idea of why I think everyone should do it.
The release of fear
The first basic idea of hypnobirthing is that the body physically reacts to fear. Our heart rate and blood pressure goes up, we breathe rapidly and our muscles tense up. Tense muscles are not particularly helpful when in labour. The misconception is that you need muscle power to push the baby out. When in fact you need to be relaxed to open and release the baby.
How do we release fear of childbirth? By educating ourselves. A good hypnobirthing class will go over what happens during labour, what to expect from your medical team and what your options are regarding your care. Through this education fear of the unknown is eliminated.
Another key idea of hypnobirthing is that where the mind goes, the body follows. If you imagine yourself having a painful and awful labour, chances are that your labour could end up that way.
It might sound crazy but when I was pregnant (after taking a hypnobirthing course) I was looking forward to giving birth. By studying hypnobirthing I had gained confidence to tell people that I didn’t want to hear their horror stories about birth. People love sharing those when they see a bump! I had learned to only listen to positive stories and attitudes which in turn made me feel more positive. By staying positive it is also much easier to feel relaxed during pregnancy instead of anxious.
Relaxation is obviously a good way to release fear and feel positive. In our hectic modern lives, many people struggle to relax. The best way to remedy this is to simply practice. Hypnobirthing classes will give you all the guidance and tools needed for this. You will be given pregnancy related scripts to listen to which will calm the mind and fill your subconscious with positive affirmations.
The more you practice relaxing, the easier it will become, and the deeper your relaxation will be. Being relaxed during childbirth is really important. By having a clear mind you will be able to make better decisions for you and your baby. Being relaxed also stops the ‘stress’ hormone adrenaline and encourages endorphines. During labour you need less adrenaline and more endorphines as they are an opiate, a natural pain relief. Many people find that by being relaxed they can enjoy birth, and what a wonderful first atmosphere for a baby to experience that is.
Physically preparing for birth
Being mentally prepared is only half the solution for a positive birth. Labour is a physical effort so this aspect should also be prepared for. In a hypnobirthing class you will learn what physically happens to get a baby out. This will include what muscles are used, what hormones help and breathing techniques to help remain calm as well as guide the baby out. They are actually all connected. Slow breathing allows the heart rate to slow, this makes you feel calm boosting your oxytocin levels, and oxytocin makes the uterus contract effectively.
This part of a hypnobirthing course is so important. If you know what is physcially happening, you have less reason to be scared. You will also know how to get those muscles and hormones working best. The magic of hypnobirthing for many people is that when muscles are relaxed and working effectively, they don’t become so tired and painful. This is why many, but not all, experience a pain free birth.
Practicalities of birth
Relaxing and feeling mentally ready for birth is great, but you don’t want the big day to get ruined by not being organised. A good hypnobirthing course should also include how to prepare for the logistics of birth. This will include how to pick where to give birth, how to write a birth plan and how your birth partner (if you have one) can help during labour.
You will also learn about your options for birth. Very few labours go exactly to plan, and the best way to deal with any situation is by making a very informed choice. Two people could have the exact same labour but leave feeling very differently about whether it was a positive experience. Knowledge is power. By making an informed choice that is right for you, it will help to make your labour the best experience possible. You will be given so much information that you won’t need to attend an NCT class, but can if you wish to.
Find a Hypnobirthing class
Hypnobirthing is a very in depth subject, and not all of it can be covered in a short blog post. The best way to learn hypnobirthing is to book on to a class and start practicing! As with any skill, the more that you practice, the easier it will become.
I offer hypnobirthing classes online, as group classes in Dartford, Kent or privately throughout Kent and South London. My standard course is run over two days or four evenings. They will take you from worried about birth to feeling calm and looking forward to birth.