Hypnobirthing. Is it for you?
Hypnobirthing. Is it for you?
We asked Serena Williams, a Hampshire-based Hypnobirthing practitioner what hypnobirthing is really all about…
When you hear the word ‘hypnobirthing’, what comes to mind?
Something that’s reserved for drug-free, vaginal home births? What about if you’re asked ‘Do you want a positive birth?’, I’ve not met a single person who has ever replied ‘No’ to that question.
So could it be time it was called something else?
Misconceptions around hypnobirthing stem mainly from what its name conjures up in our minds. Stage-hypnosis anyone? Fancy clucking like a chicken during labour while deep breathing?! No, me neither.
Someone mentions ‘hypnobirthing’ and your reaction could be anything from: “Sorry, hypno-what? No thank you, it’s not my thing.” to: “Sounds interesting, I’ve heard celebrities and members of The Royal Family have used it. Isn’t it just a few breathing techniques though?”
I have had two ‘hypnobirths’ myself and I can, hand on heart, confirm that there’s nothing ‘hocus-pocus’ about it at all.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Am I going to be hypnotised?
No. Hypnobirthing focuses on releasing the ‘Fear-Tension-Pain’ cycle – a term coined by the British Obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read, Author of ‘Childbirth without Fear’. The fear of pain surrounding childbirth has been instilled in us as a society for hundreds of years.
The knowledge and practice of hypnobirthing provides expectant parents with factual, logical and evidence-based information so that fear is replaced with confidence and excitement.
Hypnobirthing explains how our minds and bodies work together and what they need for labour and birth to progress in the best possible way.
So what does the ‘hypno’ part actually mean?
The common misconception of hypnobirthing is that a woman/birthing person giving birth goes into a spaced-out state and then Abracadabra! their baby has been born without them having realised it.
What’s the reality? When you focus on the positives instead of the negatives, your mind will lead and your body will follow.
Ultimately, just like the choice of where to have your baby remains yours (for uncomplicated pregnancies), so too does the language you want to hear when you’re preparing for your birth, and during it. Which sounds better to you: contraction, wave, rush, surge? You decide.
If it’s not just a bunch of breathing techniques, then what is it?
A comprehensive hypnobirthing course, with a qualified practitioner, provides expectant parents with the opportunity to acquire the knowledge they need to understand:
How a mother’s/birthing person’s body, mind and hormones are so intrinsically linked.
How the birthing environment is key in how safe and calm the mother/birthing person will feel.
How to work with medical care providers, as a team, instead of a ‘them and us’ approach.
How the place of birth can impact the whole birth experience.
How important the birth partner’s role is instead of them feeling like a ‘spare part’.
How breathing and relaxation techniques make for a calmer experience and what to expect during the different stages of labour.
How the positioning of the mother is more important than the size of the baby!
Why is the birth partner so important?
Reconsider the phrasing of this subtitle. Is the birth partner there to just have their hand-squeezed?
There is so much a birth partner can do to support the mother/birthing person, in addition to having their hand-squeezed!
Birth partners control the room, acting as a ‘Coordinator of the birthing environment’ so that the mother/birthing person doesn’t have to worry about anything other than focusing on herself. Birth partners are the communicators, the protectors of the birthing person and the birthing space or, as my husband put it, ‘the legs under the swan’!
Birth partners aren’t only important to the overall experience of labour and birth, but also throughout pregnancy and postnatally.
The continuity of care that your birth partner provides at this transitional time in your life is simply priceless.
Is the best place to give birth at home?
No. Once we understand that labour and birth are so much more effective if the birthing person feels safe and relaxed, then birth can happen anywhere, literally!
Home births have plenty of benefits to a labouring person but aren’t the ideal scenario for everyone.
Hypnobirthing isn’t solely for a specific place of birth, nor does it guarantee you’ll have a certain type of birth. It does however provide you with relaxation and coping strategies to focus on during labour and birth, putting you in the right frame of mind to make decisions based on facts, not assumptions.
If these aren’t skills for life – especially in the current climate – I don’t know what are!
So hypnobirthing isn’t just for drug-free, vaginal home births then?
Not at all. If you follow a hypnobirthing course, gain the knowledge, ask the questions, practice the breathing and relaxation techniques, you will have a hypnobirth.
Throughout sessions with a trained practitioner, expectant parents begin to understand how much choice and how many options they have around labour and birth and that ultimately their decisions are theirs alone to make.
What about interventions? Are they ‘allowed’ if I’m having a hypnobirth?
Yes. If they’re right for you and your baby.
After all, it’s your birth, your body & mind and your baby! You only get to give birth to your baby once so why not put everything on your side to make it as positive and memorable (for the right reasons) as you can!
Think of it like heading away on a long-awaited break to somewhere you’ve not been to before (yes, that day WILL return!)
How are you going to get there? Will you just jump in the car and play it by ear or will you plan your route, take the snacks you’ll need and figure out where you’ll have ‘comfort breaks’ along the way?
You’ll no doubt have a map or SatNav too right? Preparing for labour, birth and beyond are very much the same. You need to plan your route taking into account any diversions which may crop up along the way, so you’ll be confident and relaxed knowing exactly what options are available to you, every step of the way.
Serena Williams, a Hampshire based KG Hypnobirthing Practitioner and Mental Health First Aider who founded bump & glide in 2018.
Serena offers expectant and new parents perinatal information and emotional support through her courses anytime from 20 weeks of pregnancy so that couples can better focus their energy and excitement on achieving the birth they want and on organising their postnatal support requirements.
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