Does it actually work?
Your body knows how to birth a baby, everything a woman needs is already inbuilt and imprinted. The only thing that can derail this is fear. When Adrenalin comes into play, it cancels out vital birthing hormones such as oxytocin and endorphins. The reason we’re made that way, makes good sense. Picture a pregnant cave woman out gathering wood and berries for her cave. Her contractions start, and by their intensity and frequency she knows if she needs to return to the cave or should hunker down and give birth there and then. Should a Saber-Toothed Tiger suddenly put in an appearance at that point, the resulting adrenaline rush would stop labour in its tracks so she could get herself and her unborn child to safety.
Nowadays, we don’t have to worry about too many four legged animals roaming the labour wards, but Saber-Tooth Tigers can appear in many guises – a strange room, a woman screaming next door, an un-sympathetic midwife or consultant or a TV documentary on how awful birth is. Hypnobirthing gives you valuable tools to remain calm and relaxed at all times, encouraging the powerful birthing hormones to do their stuff and keep Adrenalin at bay.
Scientific research has shown that women who use hypnosis for labour have more frequent undisturbed births with less complications and less need for medical intervention. There is less request for medicated pain relief and labours are shorter.
Will it make my labour pain-free?
No. To promise that labour will be pain free is both mis-leading and, potentially, problem making! The contractions have a physiological purpose – not only do they tell us how far along we are in labour but they also send messages to the brain to produce more of the powerful labour hormones to keep the labour going in the direction it needs to and to help manage those increasingly strengthening contractions. Hypnobirthing techniques help women to work with the contractions, rather than suffer from them. Being able to recognize potential adrenaline causing situations and having the tools to deal with them certainly makes the contractions much more manageable and many women report feeling only the slightest sensation, but to say that you won’t feel them is un-realistic.
Are there different types of ‘hypnobirthing’?
Hypnotherapy has been used as a technique to support labour for many years, with the written records dating back to the mid 1800s. Over the past 15 years, more and more people have realised the link between body and mind during labour may have a bearing on the outcome of the birth and the term 'hypnobirthing' was born. This is now a term used generically to refer to hypnotherapy for childbirth and you will find that here are a ever growing number of different hypobirthing antenatal classes and approaches involving hypnotherapy for birth available. The best advice I can give is to find a hypnobirthing practitioner that you feel comfortable with, even meet them and have a chat if need be. Some fears relating to pregnancy and birth can be intimate and personal; it is crucial that you feel comfortable and relaxed so it is easier to face and resolve your fears and ask lots of questions! Also find a course or workshop that is affordable and includes your birth partner, their role during the birth is really important and it’s paramount that you have them on board with your birth plans right from the start.
What if my birth doesn’t go according to plan? Does that mean I’ve failed?
Absolutely not! There is no such thing as ‘failing’ at birth, it’s not an exam, it’s an experience. The truth is, nobody knows exactly how any birth is going to go. Whilst positive thinking and the techniques taught by hypnobirthing can greatly increase your chances of a straightforward birth, nothing in life is ever guaranteed which is why we encourage you to think about how you want to feel before, during and after the birth. For example, ‘I want to feel empowered and in control’ rather than ‘I want a water birth’. Feelings can remain with you, however you end up giving birth to your baby.
Even if you need to have a caesarean, it is still the birth of your child and whatever the circumstances, relaxed and calm is always going to be be a million times better than stressed and scared. Whichever hormones are surging through your blood stream are also going to be surging through your baby, so it’s easy to see what’s going to be best for all concerned.
NO!!! Forget anything on television or in novels. Hypnosis is not magic! A hypnotic state is something we all enter into several times a day – ever driven the car, arrived at your destination and can’t, for the life of you, remember how you got there?-Hypnotic state!! It is not the same as being asleep or unconscious and the only person who has control over the situation is you. We induce a hypnotic state by allowing the subject to relax, focusing on their breathing and their body. In a hypnotic state, the therapist can suggest changes to beliefs and attitudes by having direct access to the subconscious, i.e. ‘As a woman you have a powerful ability to birth your baby’, ‘Contractions are merely powerful movements of the Uterus’, ‘Labour will take as long as necessary to bring your baby safely into the world’. If at any point the person becomes uncomfortable or doesn’t feel safe anymore they will simply open their eyes and come out of it.