With Kate Middleton, Angelina Jolie and Jessica Alba among its high profile fans, there has been a lot of buzz about hypnobirthing in recent years. However, there is still a lot of misunderstanding about exactly what hypnobirthing is and just how beneficial it can be.
After reading Siobhan Miller of The Positive Birth Company’s book, Hypnobirthing: Practical ways to Make Your Birth Better, followed by taking her digital course when I was expecting, I would say that it was not only helpful, but actually the best thing I did in pregnancy to prepare for birth in both body and mind. I’d even go as far as arguing that this is something all women should be taught in order to learn more about the science of exactly what’s happening in our bodies during labour and how we can harness that knowledge to make our experience as positive as possible.
Hypnobirthing isn’t all about having a natural, unmedicated birth (although it may help if that is what you want). You can still do hypnobirthing and have an epidural. You can still do hypnobirthing and have an elective c-section. It’s all about educating women so they can make an informed choice of what is best for them and their baby, and be mentally prepared for whatever might happen on the day. Interested? Here’s our need-to-know guide on hypnobirthing…
What is hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing will go into detail about exactly what is happening in your body when you go into labour, right from the early stages through to delivery, and explains how fear and tension in the body can actually inhibit labour from progressing and make it more painful.
You will learn about how your positioning in labour can make a huge difference in how things progress, and why that classic image of a woman lying on her back with her legs in stirrups that we’re all too used to seeing in films and TV is not always the best way to give birth.
Hypnobirthing also looks at how your birth environment can affect your labour and help to relax all of the senses, taking into account everything from lighting to the scent of the room, as well as posing the question (in the Positive Birth Company course at least) – ‘Could you do a poo like this?’ – if the answer is no, chances are you won’t be able to give birth like that, either.
Most importantly, you will learn how relaxation techniques and breathing exercises can be a game changer when it comes to labour, and the ‘up breathing’ you follow during your contractions (referred to as surges) will end up being something you can use throughout the rest of your life whenever you’re feeling anxious or stressed.
What are the benefits of hypnobirthing?
One of the biggest benefits of hypnobirthing is acquiring the knowledge of what is happening to your body when you give birth, no matter whether you’re planning an unmedicated water birth at home, are planning to go to a midwife-led unit or are going to be induced.
This knowledge is power and will help you to really understand what your options are, make informed decisions, and feel confident enough to ask questions of your midwife or medical team if you need to, to ensure your birthing experience is a positive one – even if it doesn’t go as you may have planned or expected it to.
What is the best hypnobirthing book?
We recommend Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make Your Birth Better by Siobhan Miller of The Positive Birth Company. This easy to read and engaging book is a great introduction to hypnobirthing and is something your birth partner can also read in order to help them know what to expect – and how they can best support you – on the day.
Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make Your Birth Better, £10.40, Amazon
Your Baby, Your Birth by Hollie De Cruz is also a popular choice and counts Fearne Cotton among its fans.
Your Baby, Your Birth: Hypnobirthing Skills for Every Birth, £9.69, Amazon
How can I try hypnobirthing?
If you want to find out more about hypnobirthing, one of the books above will share all you need to know. To see some of the hypnobirthing breathing techniques in action you can see videos on The Positive Birth Company’s YouTube channel. Or for a more comprehensive guide to hypnobirthing and how you can practice it for yourself, their digital pack covers everything you need to know and costs £40. You only have to see the countless positive birth stories shared on their social media accounts to see it’s worth the investment.
What is the best hypnobirthing app?
The Freya app is £2.99 well spent, even if you choose not to follow a full hypnobirthing course. There are relaxing guided meditations and affirmations you can listen to throughout pregnancy and the early stages of labour, and a timer that will guide you through ‘up breathing’ when your surges start. Best of all, it will also time how far apart these surges are and how long they last, ultimately telling you when you’re in active labour and should consider calling your midwife. Download in the App Store here.
Have you tried hypnobirthing or are you considering trying it? Share your experiences below.
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