What is Hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing is a birth preparation technique which helps you to manage pain during labour through using relaxation, massage, breathing and self-hypnosis methods to achieve a positive birth experience. Hypnobirthing can be used in a hospital, birth centre or a home birth.
The seeds of the natural birth movement were first sown with the work of eminent obstetrician Dr Grantly Dick-Read. After witnessing a home birth in the slums of the London Docks in 1913 where the mother refused any pain relief and then proceeded to give birth quickly and with no pain, Grantly Dick-Read was truly amazed.
The mother’s comment after giving birth when he asked why she refused the pain relief was “It didn’t hurt. It wasn’t meant to, was it, Doctor?” This experience was defining, and after a career of working on the battlefield in the first world war and subsequently in hospitals as an obstetrician, he theorized that fear was the overriding cause that led to the pain in childbirth. At the end of his career, he wrote the book “Childbirth Without Fear”. He hypothesized that when you are fearful, you tense up and the natural birth process is inhibited and becomes longer and consequently more painful.
Over the years his theories have been fully vindicated with research into how hormones work during childbirth. His principles have been further developed by a number of natural birth practitioners with Hypnobirthing being the most notable and widely practised.
Hypnobirthing can reduce the need for pain relief and shorten labour, and you are more likely to experience a natural, calm, comfortable birth. It actively involves the partner; you will both learn skills to instil confidence about the birth and your role as parents.
Learn more about Hypnobirthing in this book Your Baby, Your Birth written by Hollie De Cruz.
By practising hypnobirthing techniques in pregnancy, by the time your labour begins you should be able to go into a state of self-hypnosis, which will help your body to go through the natural process of giving birth without you tensing up.
The theory is that fear is a response. And if you reduce negative emotions such as stress, anxiety and feeling scared, you are more likely to find birth less painful.
What are the methods and techniques used in hypnobirthing?
- Controlled breathing techniques
- Relaxation & Meditation
Reasons to try hypnobirthing:
- Help manage stress hormones and reduce anxiety. During labour, your body produces chemical oxytocin which helps progress labour. Stress hormones affect the production of oxytocin, making your labour longer.
- Can make labour shorter
- Practising hypnobirthing can help you to feel more in control and prepared
- Your birth partner can play a more active role in supporting you through labour
- May reduce the need for drugs and medical intervention. However, you can have pain relief if you want to.
- Hypnobirthing techniques can be used effectively in any setting - hospital, birth centre or at home
- Positive birth experience may benefit you after birth too. Evidence shows that it can lower the chance of postnatal depression
- Labour and birthing can be considerably shorter
- You can use your hypnobirthing techniques to help relax at any time you feel stressed (an invaluable tool)