Can Hypnobirthing Induce Labour?

Induction rates are at an all-time high. Let's delve into that end bit of labour, the symbiotic process that initiates natural labour and how hypnobirthing can help to avoid induction or help you have a positive induction.

Can Hypnobirthing Induce Labour? 


A pregnant mama posed this question during our local Pregnancy Support Group meeting last week. It’s a common question and addressing it can deepen our understanding of hypnobirthing.

This question holds particular significance as induction rates are at an all-time high, with most expectant mothers being offered induction at some stage. However, the answer to whether hypnobirthing can induce labour isn’t straightforward, so let’s delve into it together.

The Initiation of Labour


Firstly, induction of labour is when we encourage labour to start artificially, i.e. when you body and your baby aren’t ready to start labour yet. There can be a number of reasons why a mama decides induction is what needs to happen (and that’s the subject for another day!) but for now, it’s important to know that this decision needs to come from a place of evidence and knowledge rather than fear, and any decision on induction is a personal choice, as it’s your body and your baby.

Secondly, there is much chatter about how we can ‘naturally’ induce labour, (also a subject for another post!) but really both you and your baby need to be READY for labour to start naturally.  Let me explain..

A Symbiotic Process


The small number of studies that we have do show that it is your baby that triggers the labour process and therefore when baby is ready to arrive into the world, but also that both baby and mama need to be ready for the process to begin.  During the last part of pregnancy, baby’s lungs mature and babies develop a protective layer of fat. Researchers now believe that when a baby is ready for life outside mamas uterus, their body releases a tiny amount of a substance that signals mamas hormones to begin labour (Condon, Jeyasuria, Faust, & Mendelson, 2004). Another reminder that both us and our babies are perfectly designed for this, and a very clear indication that you and your baby need to be ready.

However, I believe that sometimes a mama’s body is not ready to give birth because her mind isn’t ready yet, even if the baby is ready. Yes, you heard right, either consciously or subconsciously, our minds can hinder our preparations for birth.  

This is because when we are under pressure, worried, stressed or in fear our bodies can release stress hormones. These hormones – especially adrenaline – will tell our body that it is not safe to birth a baby right now.

The Mind and Body Connection


Your body knows how to birth a baby, everything a woman needs is already inbuilt and imprinted into her mind. The thing that can derail this natural process is fear, worry or anxiety.  When adrenaline comes into play, it cancels out the vital birthing hormones oxytocin and endorphins.  This is because we are still made in the same way that we were made thousands of years ago, when we were hunting and gathering food and facing predators at every turn.

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 even the mere thought of something worrying like a TV documentary on how awful birth is, your memory of a previous traumatic experience or a negative birth story.   These thoughts can build and build towards the end of pregnancy, and so for some women the stress hormones are rife.. and telling her body that it is simply not safe to birth the baby. If this happens, it doesn’t matter that baby is all ready to emerge into the world, mamas’ body will just say no, it’s not safe right now.

How hypnobirthing techniques can help


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.  These techniques can help hugely when you are in labour but ALSO when you are pregnant and waiting for baby! It can help you release the fear, trust in your body and calm your mind.

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.

It therefore also makes sense that the regular practise of these techniques during pregnancy can, of course, help your body and baby to be born, when they are both ready.  

Not all hypnobirthing is the same


Just as each person is unique and therapy methods vary, it’s important to remember that not all hypnobirthing resources are alike. Courses, classes, books, and coaches can differ significantly in their approaches and effectiveness.

Hypnotherapy has been used as a technique to support labour for many years, with written records dating back to the mid-1800s. Over the past 15 or so 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 hypnobirthing 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. Also, bear in mind that the quality and experience you receive from a fifty-pound online course will differ greatly from investing in one-on-one classes that cost a few hundred pounds.

Hypnobirthing is incredibly beneficial, regardless of the birth plan you have in mind or the type of birth that unfolds on the day. This is especially true if you opt for induction. During my sessions we aim to build up a toolbox of techniques to help you feel more in control, to help you to feel less pain and manage contractions. One of these tools is self-hypnosis, as so many find it beneficial on a number of levels, and all of these techniques will help whether you decide to have an induction or not.

If you are worried about induction, wondering about how to make decisions around induction and/or how to cope with induction of labour then get in contact, let’s chat about how I can help.

Debbie Willis, Pregnancy and Birth Coach

Debbie Willis from Better Birth & Baby 

[Debbie is a Pregnancy and Birth Coach, Hypnobirthing Practitioner and Antenatal Educator helping couples to navigate their pregnancy and birth journey for a positive birth experience]

Hypnobirthing Induction



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