Everything you need to know about hypnobirthing


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What is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing is a technique that uses relaxation, breath control and visualisation methods to help you achieve a less painful labour. It’s particularly helpful if you want a natural childbirth with no chemical pain relief like an epidural or opiates.

why should you learn hypnobirthing?

A common misconception is that hypnobirthing puts you into a state of hypnosis where you have no control. This couldn’t be further from from the truth. It actually gives you more control through powerful tools to overcome the intensity of childbirth. The idea is that you will be more able to birth your baby easily while connecting with your body.

If you are planning a natural childbirth, maybe a home birth, then a strategy for pain management is essential. At a home birth you have limited access to pain relief – only gas and air or some opiate drugs such as pethidine. That means you’ll probably need something else to help you through the pain. Hypnobirthing offers you a 100% natural pain reliever.

can you use hypnobirthing in hospital?

Yes, and it’s a great idea! If you want a natural childbirth in hospital, an epidural can be difficult to resist unless you have a backup. Hypnobirthing gives you an alternative that will help you avoid the risks that come with epidurals.

Epidurals can cause a cascade of interventions as they can prolong the later stages of labour. This is partly because they work so well to numb the pain. You stop feeling your contractions altogether and end up out of touch with where your body and baby are at. Therefore it’s more likely you’ll need to have birth interventions such as forceps, ventouse or a c-section. Click here to read more about the risks associated with epidurals.

Wherever you birth, hypnobirthing can help you through the intensity of childbirth without painkillers and their negative impacts.

does hypnobirthing actually work?

There have been very limited studies into hypnobirthing so the science is not clear. One study from 2013 had inconclusive results and recommended more research, but very little has been done since. However, if you’re looking from the perspective of women’s lived experiences then the overwhelming answer is yes, hypnobirthing does work.

By doing things like changing the language around labour, hypnobirthing helps to take the fear out of childbirth. Using positive affirmations, it encourages women to work with their body instead of tensing and fighting against the pain. This makes the intensity of labour more manageable.

Finally, by learning relaxation, self-hypnosis and visualisation techniques, hypnobirthing helps the body release its own natural pain relief through hormones.

is hypnobirthing painless?

Childbirth is unlikely to ever be 100% painless – you are pushing a small human being out of yourself after all! Hypnobirthing gives you powerful tools to help you manage the pain and work in harmony with your body though. One aim of hypnobirthing is to help you “breathe your baby out” rather than push, strain and struggle.

Whenever you read a hypnobirthing story, you generally find that it reduced the pain and made labour more manageable.

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    6 top tips for hypnobirthing success

    Here are my 6 top tips to getting the most out of this powerful technique:

    Tip 1: Do your homework

    You are more likely to be successful in hypnobirthing if you learn as much as possible before you start. Don’t assume it will be as simple as downloading a hypnobirthing app with good reviews. It does require more than a few free visualisation tracks!

    Also, make sure your hypnobirthing complements a holistic approach to natural childbirth. Hypnobirthing alone won’t necessarily get you through labour with no drugs: it needs to be part of a package. I have a post on how to prepare your body for a natural childbirth to help you on your way.

    Tip 2: Get your birth partner on board

    does hypnobirthing actually work

    Whoever is supporting you through labour definitely needs to know what your plans are for pain management.

    The last thing you need is someone asking when you’re going move onto the drugs. If possible, get them to go through some of your course material with you.

    Consider making them a “cheat sheet” of helpful hypnobirthing phrases and breathing exercises that they can support you in. Keep this in your maternity notes along with your birth plan.

    Tip 3: Avoid negative birth stories

    Hypnobirthing aims to turn around centuries of negative associations with childbirth and remove the fear that many women feel. Unfortunately, lots of people see a pregnant women and feel compelled to tell her all the negative birth stories they’ve ever heard. Whether you’re a first time mum or you’ve given birth before, you don’t need Aunt Julie telling you horror stories.

    Keep the vibes around you positive and supportive. If people start telling you a negative birthing story, quickly cut them off. You can hold up your hand and say, “Uh, I’m going to have to stop you there Julie. I know you want to tell this story but I am really committed to having a positive birth experience and it’s not helpful to me to hear negative birth stories. Perhaps we can talk about something more positive and exciting, like baby names”

    Usually people mean well and they just want to be involved in your pregnancy somehow. Give them as much of a smile as you can muster, offer an alternative topic and hopefully they’ll move on.

    Tip 4: Invest in it properly (with both time and money)

    I only have one regret about my home birth experience: I didn’t invest in a proper hypnobirthing course.

    I knew about hypnobirthing, but I was a bit sceptical and thought it was just meditation, which I already knew how to do. So I did exactly what I just advised you not to do. I downloaded a free hypnobirthing app, listened to it a few times during my Spinning Babies® sessions and forgot about it.

    As soon as I woke up with my first contraction, I regretted not having a plan for pain management. I have a pretty high pain threshold but this was something else altogether. I instantly doubted my ability to get through it without drugs and found myself struggling to cope with the intensity of labour. I did have the home birth I wanted but it was filled with fear and anxiety.

    Now I’m pregnant with my second, I’m making sure I’m much more prepared. Having looked at what’s available online, I’ve found that KG Hypnobirthing offers the best value for money and high quality content.

    They offer:

    • A full in-depth antenatal programme available online with 12 hours of video content
    • All the supporting documents, audio downloads and materials you need
    • An accompanying Facebook support group so you can build a network of fellow hypnobirthers around you
    • Online learning at home where you’re comfortable and not at the mercy of someone else’s timetable
    • A special COVID-19 module to give you extra support through the pandemic

    You can start at any stage of pregnancy and they offer easy to follow instructions. The course is a very accessible at just £45 for one year’s access. I have looked around at a lot of hypnobirthing options and this is genuinely the best offer I’ve found in terms of quality, content and cost. Do take visit their website and see what you think.

    Tip 5: Start as soon as possible

    Like I said, one of the great things about KG Hypnobirthing is that you can start at any stage of your pregnancy. Having said that, the closer you get to your “due” date the more stuff you need to sort out and the less time you have for practicing hypnobirthing. Make life easier on yourself by starting hypnobirthing as soon as you’re in the safe zone of the second trimester.

    Tip 6: Practice makes perfect

    The more you practice, the more hypnobirthing will feel like second nature to you when you need it. The best analogy I can give you is that it’s like learning to drive a car.

    When you start, you’re thinking about every nudge on the pedal, every single gear change. After a few hours practice, however, everything you need to do to drive a car becomes second nature. You can rely on yourself to do whatever is necessary in the moment. That leaves your brain free to make sure you have a pleasant, safe drive to wherever you’re going.

    It’s the same with hypnobirthing. If you’ve done enough hours practice while you’re still learning, knowing what to do during labour will become second nature. When your birthing day does come, you can help your baby have a safe, comfortable journey into the world.

    The most important thing you need to know about hypnobirthing

    is hypnobirthing painless

    If there’s one last thing I’d love everyone to know about hypnobirthing it’s this: it’s not just a trend.

    When I was pregnant I came across lots of practices that were supposed to be the ideal way to have a natural pregnancy and birth.

    So many turned out to be flaky and that’s what made me sceptical about hypnobirthing. I thought it might just be another frivolous trend, especially when I saw lots of celebrities were doing it.

    The fact is that the brain is a powerful thing. Mind over matter, visualisations, positive affirmations and other relaxation practices have long been known to have positive benefits.

    Giving birth is probably the most intense, transformative thing you’ll ever do in your life. Hypnobirthing helps to bring it into being a hugely positive one at that.

    I do hope you’ll give hypnobirthing a go, either with KG Hypnobirthing or using another tool. Either way, please do get in touch and let me know how you get on!

    Meanwhile, I’d love to give you these printable birth affirmations to set you on your way to a positive birth. Hang them up in a special birth place in your home, or take them with you to the hospital.

    All the best with your birth – FULL POWER, MAMA! 💪

    love, Gudrun

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