Birth is an incredible, transformative experience that can bring a new life into the world and transform the parents into a family. With the rise of birthing methods such as hypnobirthing, more and more people are beginning to shift their perspective on birth, seeing it as a natural and positive experience that can be incredibly empowering. In this blog post, Doula and Hypnobirthing Teacher, Rosie Gray (AKA The Richmond Doula) delves into the how hypnobirthing can help shift your perspective on birth and provide you with the tools to have a positive birthing experience.
What is Hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing put simply, is complete antenatal preparation. It empowers and puts you in control of what you allow to happen to you and provides the sound preparation that really is essential for a positive birth. During a hypnobirthing course, you will learn relaxation techniques to help you navigate labour calmly and confidently, as well as the physiological aspects of the birthing body, how the uterine muscles work and the cocktail of hormones that help that to happen.
Benefits of Hypnobirthing: Evidence-based Approach
A Cochrane review into complementary and alternative therapies for pain management in labour, (2006) showed that hypnobirthing decreases the need for pharmacological pain relief, reduces induction and augmentation of labour (assisted delivery), shortens the length of labour, increases the incidence of spontaneous vaginal birth, is associated with improved maternal well-being and satisfaction and lastly is beneficial to neonatal outcomes. From my own experience as a hypnobirthing teacher and doula, hypnobirthing always makes a difference, whatever your birth journey.
For All Birth Experiences
Hypnobirthing isn’t just for those planning a natural birth, for example for a c-section, hypnobirthing helps you prepare and gives you the tools to remain calm in the lead-up and throughout your baby’s birth, also helping with a speedy recovery. In short, It doesn’t promise you the perfect birth, but it gives you the tools for a positive experience, so you remain focused and calm and importantly you feel you are birthing your baby, your baby isn’t being delivered – and there is a big difference in that.
The secret in our culture isn’t that birth is painful, it is that women are strong’ - LAURA STAVOE
The Hypnobirthing Toolbox: Rewiring Your Brain
So what does the hypnobirthing toolbox entail? In short, it is about learning relaxation techniques to use as your baby’s birth unfolds. Our brains are like a hard drive for all the messages and experiences we have ever had, and these experiences form our beliefs and our hard wiring. We only ever hear negative things about labour and birth, so this is often what we believe, that birth is a negative, painful, and traumatic experience. A Hypnobirthing course will literally help you to rewire your brain – through positive input into our conscious and subconscious mind, you build confidence in your body’s ability to birth your baby and so release all fear and negative thoughts. If birth were intrinsically painful, it would be for everyone, yet in hypnobirthing testimonials women often report their births as intense, but amazing, many saying pain-free, but certainly manageable and deeply empowering!
Related content: A Doula’s perspective: Tips to avoid labour anxiety
Understanding the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous System
For me, a key part of describing how hypnobirthing works is to explain that when you are in labour, your body is either in the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system. If you are in the sympathetic system, you are in the flight or fight mode, producing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Conversely, if you are in the parasympathetic system, you are calm, relaxed and producing the hormone oxytocin, which is the hormone your uterus needs to dilate and for labour to progress. You cannot be in both systems at the same time and what trips you from one system to the other is ‘fear’ and ‘being observed’. If you are producing adrenaline, you are not producing oxytocin which means your labour is unlikely to progress. Hypnobirthing teaches you how to remain in the parasympathetic, and gives you a whole raft of tools and anchors to relaxation to keep you calm and relaxed, so your body can do what it is fundamentally designed to do, give birth! We have the perfect system in place and through hypnobirthing we learn to trust it. A relaxed body happens when you have a calm, relaxed and confident mind and when you have that the oxytocin will flow. Importantly it teaches your birth partner how to support you in labour as these are techniques you practice together.
Choosing a Hypnobirthing Course
There are many options available in terms of courses be it online courses, or in person and which is better for you comes down to preference and cost. Where possible, it is good to start early as it can take some time to bed in, particularly if there are deep-seated fears, starting early will also help you enjoy pregnancy too. Having said that, I have had some women come to me for a crash course around 39/40 weeks and it still in a small amount of time makes a huge difference, it is never too late!
“Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. For The Creators has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.”