Following my post on epidurals, I thought it would be good to follow it up with a post on an alternative option for pain relief in labour. I am not an expert on hypnobirthing but I’ve seen it in action and it really does work for a lot of women. So I asked an actual expert, Claire Brett, to do this guest post. Claire is a hypnotherapist, positive birth educator educator and fertility support coach with over 9 years experience of supporting couples from conception through to birth. Claire lives in Cork with her husband, beautiful baby girl and 2 wayward dogs. Enjoy.
“Giving birth should be your greatest achievement, not your greatest fear” – Jane Weideman
People ask me all the time if hypnobirthing is just a “regular antenatal class with some nice relaxing music playing in the background?”
They also ask if it’s “just for hippies?”
Isn’t it a kind of a “woo woo” thing to do?
Not any more.
Hypnobirthing is now mainstream, baby! Let’s address some of those bad boys and blow some of the myths out of the water while we’re at it.
What the hell is hypnobirthing?
There are many different definitions of hypnobirthing – but I like to call it intensive brain training for birth. Really I see it as a fancy word for preparing your mind & body for positive birthing. The focus is on birth being a positive experience no matter how your baby is born. Couples learn about the mind- body connection in labour and they learn breathing and relaxation techniques in order to release fear, anxiety and doubt and replace it with calm and confidence. Many couples tell me afterwards that they actually felt excited about the baby’s birth now (instead of feeling worried and fearful). Recent NHS studies have shown that women birthing using the techniques have reduced need for intervention at all levels.
Is hypnobirthing only for people planning a natural birth?
Not necessarily, no. There’s no denying that when couples use these techniques in labour and birth – there is a higher chance that they will require less and often no medical intervention.
When I first began teaching classes 8 years ago I was of the mindset myself that hypnobirthing only supports natural birth and home birth. I have seen that turned totally on it’s head in recent years.
As we all know, sometimes things do not go to plan in life and birth is no exception. Hypnobirthing arms expectant parents with a set of powerful tools that can be used really effectively for inductions, c-section, medicated births and other unplanned scenarios. This sometimes surprises people but I have seen it for myself first-hand. I am very open and forthright in my classes about the intensity of the birthing experience and do my very best not to teach unrealistic expectations to couples. I am constantly amazed at the inspirational birth stories I receive weekly and it just makes me do a happy dance each time. It never gets old for me.
Isn’t it my body that needs training for birth- rather than my mind?
Women are able to achieve amazing things when they have trained the mind to positively embrace the birth experience (rather than fear it). They learn about how your state of mind can both help and hinder the birth experience. How the birthing hormones work and how when fear is absent, the body does what it was designed to do. It also helps to reduce stress in pregnancy and assists with family bonding.
There is no such thing as a perfect birth of course – but when a woman is calm, supported and informed about what her body does in labour and equally how her body responds when she is in tension or stress, then the likelihood is that she will have a calm and more comfortable birth experience – no matter what turn her birthing takes.
What do you learn?
Ooh lots. First and foremost you learn fantastically simple relaxation techniques and meditations, incorporating powerful visualization. There are breathing techniques for both during surges (contractions) and also for the birth itself. There’s lots of practical labour preparation in there and quick and easy mini-confidence boosting exercises, as well as massage techniques, natural methods for inducing labour and so much more.
Is there any need for partner’s to attend?
This is a resounding YES! Admittedly, some dads come to my class looking like they would rather run around looking for Pokemon for the duration of the course than sit through it and I totally get that! They wonder what they are doing there. It’s the mammy that gives birth so what is the point of them being there exactly??
Well, I am proud to report that in 8 years of teaching these classes – there have been some MAJOR converts to hypnobirthing. Some of my dads get even more excited about it than my mums after they have experienced the magic of it in play at birth – which is such a joy to witness.
Won’t the medical professionals think I’m being awkward?
Not at all! When I first started teaching – the Irish hospitals were relatively unfamiliar with how it all worked and the tendency was just to go along with the couples wishes. But now I’m so happy to see midwives & doctors really embracing hypnobirthing so much. In fact I regularly have pregnant midwives and other birthing professionals on my course and they love it. I have been told many times by our local midwives how wonderful it is to assist a woman using hypnobirthing techniques during her labour.
Are there any side effects to using hypnobirthing?
Oh yes. They include:
- A calm, peaceful pregnancy.
- Increased confidence and an unimaginable sense of positive anticipation.
- Feeling more in control of your birth experience.
- A birth partner who feels like an integral part of the process.
- Babies who sleep and feed well.
- A gentle, positive birth experience.
- A lasting memory of your baby’s birth that’s full of pride and joy.
What’s not to love?
Get in contact with Claire
If you would like to contact Claire in relation to hypnobirthing or fertility coaching, here is her contact information. Her website is well worth checking out for further information on hypnobirthing and details of her classes. Follow her on Facebook for great articles and tips.
Telephone: 089 244 6558