If you are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or enjoy all things pregnancy related, you may have come across the term 'Hypnobirth.' But for many, this particular birthing technique is still concealed and rarely discussed.
Hypnobirthing is a birthing method which aims to provide a positive and confident mindset whilst working towards an empowering birth for the mother.
Natalie Reed - Founder of 'Birthing Matters' - highlights the benefits for both mother and baby, as well as the birthing partner, and wants to encourage all to consider this birthing technique.
What is Hypnobirthing?
What hypnobirthing ISN'T is stage hypnosis, which thanks to the 'hypno' part of the word some do think. Hypnobirthing is a full antenatal education that's designed to eliminate any fears or anxiety around birth and replace them with a calm and positive approach towards an empowering and confident birth experience.
It prepares you for birth through the likes of evidence-based information, relaxation and breathing techniques, and knowledge about the birthing body and how it works. It's extremely extensive, covering areas such as the physiology of the pregnant and birthing body, understanding your options for birth and the maternity system, the importance of birth partners and birth proposals, and relaxation techniques such as breathing and visualisations.
Why would you recommend hypnobirthing to expecting parents?
In a nutshell, you're investing in your birth for both you and your baby. The knowledge you'll gain will help you feel in control and able to handle any 'what if' situations, and this teamed with the techniques you'll learn will help towards a calm, comfortable birth that also promotes the physiology of birth and what your body is naturally doing.
Why do you think Hypnobirthing is important, as you say, now more than ever?
At the heart of hypnobirthing is helping those expecting to feeling confident, calm and relaxed about birth, rather than anxious or afraid. At the best of times people can feel anxious about birth for varying reasons, but over the past year in the pandemic anxieties have been heightened and new ones have crept in due to changes such as birth partners not being allowed to appointments, scans and even births.
Stress and anxiety can have a direct effect on labour - the hormone we need when we're in labour is oxytocin, which keeps our surges coming nicely. If we feel stressed, this oxytocin stops and adrenaline kicks in instead, which can slow labour down. So you can see how the added stress and anxiety during the pandemic will have had a direct effect on those giving birth.
I've felt extremely passionate over this time in being there to support and provide antenatal education to those who are pregnant, to help them towards the positive, confident birth that everyone deserves, and to steer them away from those anxieties through knowledge and preparation.
Hypnobirthing has such a positive impact on pregnant people in learning techniques that help them feel relaxed and calm, but this state of mind also comes from the information and education that hypnobirthing provides; it gets rid of the fear of the unknown.
What are the health benefits for mother and baby from hypnobirthing?
There are benefits for those giving birth, for babies and also for birth partners when it comes to hypnobirthing. For those giving birth, hypnobirthing gives them confidence to ask questions and make informed decisions, to trust in their body and their baby, they often experience a more comfortable and shorter labour, and there's a decreased chance of tearing, the need for pain relief or intervention.
For babies, they are likely to have a calmer, gentler birth, there's less risk of injury during birth, and they can be more alert at birth.For birth partners, they have a key and central role at the birth, an understanding of the physiology of birth and how to support their partner, it strengthens the relationship between them and their partner, and they feel calm and confident in themselves, their partner and their baby.
What advice would you give to new and experienced parents who are thinking of having a hypnobirth?
Don't dismiss hypnobirthing if this isn't your first pregnancy, or if you want a certain type of birth over another - hypnobirthing is for everyone and every type of birth. Ask questions! We're here to help you have a good birth so find out as much as you like about us, our background and our courses.
Put in the practice - hypnobirthing arms you with such a breadth of information about labour, birth and everything between, but practice in pregnancy (such as breathing techniques, relaxation scripts and positive affirmations) is key so that when you're in labour, everything you have learnt and practiced is second nature and you reach your deep state of calm and relaxation quicker.
Why do you think pregnant women are not exposed to this birthing technique?
Hypnobirthing is on the radar a lot more these days, but unfortunately it's still not as widely talked about as other antenatal classes. It's a common assumption that hypnobirthing is just learning how to breathe rather than a full antenatal education, and so sadly isn't always mentioned as an option.
Would you say Covid 19 has impacted hypnobirths?
From my personal and professional experience during the pandemic, hypnobirthing has had a light shine on it. We as teachers have had to adapt courses to be held online, but this has come with benefits in being able to reach more people especially in a time when - as I mentioned before - courses such as hypnobirthing are really important in helping those expecting to feel confident and in control of their births, and to help them release any anxiety, stress and fear they may have and replace this with feelings of calm, confidence and positivity.
The techniques that you learn aren't also just for birth, you can call on them at any time. If you have an appointment you're feeling worried about, for example, your breathing and relaxation techniques are always there for you to help you feel calm.
Again, this is incredibly useful during the pandemic when those who are pregnant may have encountered certain things that have caused them to feel an added level of anxiety.
Is hypnobirthing suitable for all types of births?
Absolutely! The tools and techniques you learn can be used for any type of birth, whether it's a home birth, water birth, caesarean section, or a first or subsequent pregnancy, for example. The important thing is you have a positive birth experience, and that comes from making informed decisions that are right for you and your baby, arming yourself with knowledge and feeling confident and in control. Every birth is different, and the content of hypnobirthing isn't exclusive to only one type of birth and helps you navigate any 'what if' situations that may arise.
Where can expecting parents find information about Hypnobirthing?
I've got information on my website, www.birthing-matters.com, about what hypnobirthing is (and isn't), and the KG Hypnobirthing website is another great place to visit.
Natalie is the owner of 'Birthing Matters' and is a qualified DipHG(KGH) Hypnobirthing teacher. To find out more visit; www.birthing-matters.com or follow her on Instagram @birthing_matters