You may have heard of hypnobirthing due to its increasing popularity with expectant celebrities. It’s even been speculated that the royal family members, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, used it to prepare for their deliveries. So, what is it exactly?
Hypnobirthing is a childbirth preparation method that involves a set of weekly group or private (in-person or online) classes taking place between 20 to 35 weeks of pregnancy. All styles of hypnobirthing originate from the Mongan Method, which is more than 30 years old. There are many misconceptions about hypnobirthing and the types of people who use it – for instance that it’s for “hippy types” who desire a home or water birth – but the truth is that all women can use it to have a calmer, more positive birthing experience.
The Benefits of a Physiological Birth
One of the main goals of hypnobirthing is to support and increase the likelihood of a physiological birth with the least amount of chemicals and interventions possible. However, if drugs or medical interventions are truly needed, hypnobirthing allows parents to remain calm and make informed, evidence-based decisions for themselves and their baby. Hypnobirthing promotes a birthing experience that closely mirrors nature so mothers and their babies have the best start possible.
The perceived benefits of physiological births for women include minimized pre-birth complications, a potential reduction in chronic disease, and reduced out-of-pocket costs. When it comes to infants, this type of birth reduces the likelihood of illness, potentially reduces the risk of chronic disease, and improves the attachment between the mother and her baby.
Hypnobirthing benefits mothers and babies in many situations, but it’s not just them who benefit. These days, spouses are not just welcome in the delivery room, but also expected to support the mother during labor. However, without adequate training, they can be thrown into an environment and situation they are not prepared for. In hypnobirthing classes, spouses gain invaluable knowledge and skills they can apply in the birthing room to foster a positive birthing experience. And the benefits don’t stop there. Lots of couples continue to use hypnobirthing mind and body relaxation tools long after the birth is over.
Hypnobirthing During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, hypnobirthing serves as a reminder that women’s bodies are designed to give birth, and childbirth is a natural physiological process. Additionally, hypnobirthing promotes healthy nutrition and physical exercise, as well as provides tips on how to get the baby into the optimal position for birth.
Like with any significant physical event — such as running a marathon or climbing a mountain — it’s not just physical preparation that makes a difference; being emotionally fit is just as important. Hypnobirthing helps eliminate the negative information and fear expectant parents have been conditioned to believe and refreshes their mindset through guided visualizations, affirmations, and fear-release work — all while they are deeply relaxed or ‘in hypnosis’.
Being in a natural state of hypnosis promotes deep relaxation and openness to suggestions so that, during pregnancy, you can access the subconscious mind and reprogram it with more positive beliefs, thoughts, and feelings about birth. When pregnant women are calm and feel supported, their babies — who are literally swimming in their mother’s emotions — also feel the benefits. During classes, there is also a focus on pre-birth family bonding, which helps couples adjust to their new roles as parents.
Hypnobirthing During Labor
When a woman goes into labor with less fear and more understanding of how her body works and what it’s doing at each stage, she can more easily accept it and experience it in a more positive way. When she relaxes and welcomes the sensations (rather than fighting them), they become easier to manage. Practically speaking, hypnobirthing teaches couples how to maximize the normal physiological birth process by creating the optimal environment for birth. Humans are biologically programmed in the same way all mammals are. Mammals birth more easily in safe, warm, dark, private, quiet, and undisturbed settings where there is no rush and no feeling of being watched or observed.
In this ideal setting, the perfect and natural combination of birthing hormones can be released so labor can progress. If, however, there is a potential threat or disturbance, our fight-or-flight response releases hormones that will slow — or even stop — labor. Even a simple bright light or a cold room can slow down the labor process. However, it’s not always possible to control the external birthing environment, such as when you’re driving to the hospital or birthing in a typical hospital room where it’s normally very bright, busy, and rushed with lots of potential triggers.
Hypnobirthing skills are crucial in these less-than-optimal settings because they enable the mother to create a calm and resourceful internal mental state. By utilizing balanced breathing, visualizations, affirmations, and hypnosis, you can bring your mind and body into a deep state of relaxation as if you were in the ideal birthing environment. The body cannot tell the difference between real and imagined, so you can use this mind-body hack to convince your body it’s a safe space and a good time to give birth. The body then continues to release the perfect cocktail of hormones for a quicker, easier, and more natural birth.
Hypnobirthing and Pain
A birthing mother can reduce her pain by being calmer and less frightened of the birth. In calm, safe settings, your body naturally produces endorphins (humans’ natural pain reliever) to help you cope with the intense physical sensations. Additionally, mothers practicing hypnobirthing can use hypnosis to disrupt and change the way their brain processes pain signals. Hypnobirthing also teaches mental coping strategies and physical comfort tools to deal with any discomfort that occurs during the birthing process.
All of these factors reduce the need for pain-relieving drugs or unnecessary interventions. They also promote a more straightforward labor. Of course, if a woman is struggling, there is a selection of pain-relieving drugs a hospital can offer. The aim of hypnobirthing, however, is to ensure expectant parents have a complete toolbox of skills and techniques they can utilize before — and while — giving birth. No matter how a baby is born (or which interventions or drugs are used), the most important elements for every birthing mother include feeling calm, safe, and supported; knowing she did her best and gave it all she had; being treated with dignity and respect; and being in control.
Interested in hypnobirthing, but still unsure whether or not it’s the best choice for you? Below is a list of real-life hypnobirthing stories to help you make the most informed decision for you and your baby.
Jasmine Collin is a mother of two, a qualified hypnotherapist, an NLP practitioner, a childbirth educator, and a doula who specializes in hypnobirthing. She is the co-founder of Love Parenting UAE and the winner of the 2018 Time Out Kids’ Award for Pre- and Post-Natal Care. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.