And could it be the key to a positive birth experience?
Giving birth is one of the most amazing miracles in nature. That our bodies can grow and create a brand-new life is awe-inspiring. However, for many women, the process of birth itself is complex and painful. It can be terrifying for our bodies to take over and put us through a range of painful physical processes. Many women feel out of control and scared of something going wrong. Most antenatal classes teach breathing techniques as a way of managing pain and reducing stress during labor, however, hypnobirthing takes things a step further, harnessing meditative thinking and relaxation techniques to help women enjoy a stress-free and often drug-free labor.
We look at hypnobirthing in more detail, below.
What is hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing aims to provide women with a fear-free birth and lessen pain and stress through a combination of mindfulness, visualization, relaxation, and breathing techniques. It prepares women to go into the labor process armed with the knowledge and skills to manage their experience naturally. Often women choose to use hypnobirthing techniques in place of pain-relieving drugs, however, it can also be used to supplement their use.
What are some of the methods used in hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing is a term that covers a number of key stress-relieving and relaxation techniques. These include:
It may sound obvious but understanding how to breathe mindfully can help to reduce stress levels and the level of stress hormones present in your body. This can, in turn, promote a less painful and less traumatic labor. Breathing deeply – in through your nose and then exhaling out through your mouth can help you to maintain a sense of calm and control during birth.
By visualizing positive images, from meeting your baby to relaxing landscapes, you can practice a form of self-hypnosis. This helps you to stay focused and positive at every stage of your labor.
Meditation and mindfulness can help you to tune into your body and tune out an austere medical environment, stress or noise that is going on around you. Your body understands what it needs to do, and by tapping into your instincts you can better manage the physical processes of labor.
Where can I learn hypnobirthing techniques?
There are a range of hypnobirthing courses available at hospitals and through specialist courses across the US. You can also choose to receive private instruction at home. It’s important to look for an accredited hypnobirthing instructor. You may also choose to reach out for recommendations through family and friends.
How can my partner support me?
Partners can often feel left out and unsure of what to do during labor. However, your partner is a key part of the hypnobirthing process and should be present at all the classes or courses you attend. By providing practical, positive support, and reinforcing relaxation techniques they can help you to maintain a calm and controlled frame of mind throughout the process of giving birth.
What if something goes wrong?
Hypnobirthing is not a replacement for excellent medical care and sometimes a birth will become complex or even dangerous. It’s important to listen carefully to the advice of your doctor and medical team at every stage of your pregnancy. However, hypnobirthing techniques are not reserved for natural births, those stress-relieving visualisation and breathing techniques can provide support during medical interventions and even through a cesarean section. Hypnobirthing is about helping you stay calm and in control, whatever challenges labor brings.
Is hypnobirthing supported by science?
Right now, there is limited research into hypnobirthing and research shows mixed results. Essentially it works for some women, but not for others. However, a British research study found that it significantly reduced anxiety and fear around childbirth in post-natal women.
When should I learn about hypnobirthing?
Most women choose to have their instruction at around 30 to 32 weeks into their pregnancy. But there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Women who have greater anxiety around labor may choose to have it sooner, while women who want to keep the course fresh in their mind may choose to undergo it later.
Celebrities and hypnobirthing
Many high-profile women have chosen hypnobirthing to help them enjoy a more natural and mindful labor. Kate Middleton and Angelina Jolie are rumoured to be some of the biggest names choosing hypnobirthing. Some have even spoken out of the benefits of this natural birthing method:
“I really believe that this is something our bodies are able to do naturally, and we should get out of our body’s way and let it do it.” Busy Phillips
“It’s not like there is a clock in front of your face and you go out and you wake up and you got a baby! Basically, my husband takes me through sort of a meditation. So, he’s saying, ‘You’re relaxed and you’re floating on clouds,’ while you’re going through labour and your contractions.” Jessica Alba
Should I tell my friends and family about hypnobirthing?
Some women feel a little embarrassed or unsure about speaking out about their hypnobirthing experience. They feel that it’s taking a step back from modern medical science or that it isn’t a respected technique. This absolutely isn’t the case. More and more women are choosing hypnobirthing to help them through their pregnancy and labor, and by speaking out about their experiences, they help other women to make more informed choices.
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