How can hypnobirthing nourish your soul?
Hypnobirthing is a natural approach to childbirth which involves providing an expectant mother with a thorough understanding of the birthing process, as well as techniques for deep relaxation. The hypnobirthing philosophy hinges on the idea of dissolving the fear and uncertainty a woman may have about birth, instead making her feel positive, confident, well-prepared and empowered.
Hypnobirthing may be taught by midwives, doulas, nurses, hypnotherapists, doctors and other healthcare professionals, as well as specialised childbirth educators. The two main schools offering hypnobirthing educator accreditation are Hypnobirthing Australia™ and HypnoBirthing International.
During pregnancy, the mother-to-be learns and practises methods for self-hypnosis, breathing exercises and positive affirmations. This helps her become familiar with reaching a deeply relaxed, meditative state, which may allow her to change her perception of pain during labour and birth. Techniques to help women be calm and ‘open’ are also intended to improve the chances of a natural childbirth without complications, because the mother is not as stressed or ‘fighting’ the birthing process.
The origin of hypnobirthing is generally agreed to be the work of Grantly Dick-Read, an English obstetrician, who hypothesised that the physical pain experienced childbirth is closely associated with fear. By eliminating the fear which causes tension, leading to greater pain, he believed it was possible to reduce the distress experienced by women giving birth. The term ‘hypnobirthing’ was coined by Marie Mongan, a hypnotherapist in the US, who pioneered the use of hypnosis during labour and birth on the basis of her own experiences.
Benefits of hypnobirthing
The results of a recent study suggest that mothers who use hypnobirthing techniques taught as part of a “Complementary Therapies for Labour and Birth” protocol may be significantly less likely to use epidurals or require caesarean delivery. It is reported that hypnobirthing may be associated with a shorter duration of labour and less use of anaesthetic gas. There is evidence to suggest that hypnobirthing may be associated with a decrease in the need for artificial induction, and a greater likelihood of birth at home or in a birthing centre as opposed to a hospital. It is reported that hypnobirthing may be particularly beneficial for women who have had traumatic birth experiences, or have a strong fear of giving birth.
According to the results of a methodological review, hypnosis may be a more effective form of pain management during labour and birth than ‘standard’ education about childbirth, default medical care and supportive counselling. It is reported that women who use hypnosis during childbirth may be less likely to use pain medication, and there is evidence to suggest hypnobirthing may be associated with “improved outcomes for babies”, but further study is recommended.
Hypnobirthing may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Childbirth and labour
- Pain relief
- Pregnancy, birth and antenatal support
What to expect from a hypnobirthing session
Hypnobirthing courses typically offer tuition for birth partners as well as expectant mums. During your hypnobirthing course, you and your partner will learn about the importance of mindset and how to let go of fear and cultivate a positive sense of excitement and expectation about birth. You will learn to prepare yourself mentally and physically for welcoming your child into the world, and you will receive detailed factual information about the process of labour and birth.
Your hypnobirthing educator will teach you breathing exercises and self-hypnosis techniques to help you attain a profoundly relaxed, meditative frame of mind, and will be encouraged to practise these exercises in preparation for birth. Your educator may assist you in developing a hypnobirthing birth plan that will help prepare you for unpredictable eventualities which may take place during birth. You will also be provided with resources such as audio tracks to help you practise your self-hypnosis exercises, and written information you can refer to.
The self-hypnosis birthing methods that are taught will not make you unconscious during your labour or delivery. The experience of giving birth while using self-hypnosis has been described as having similarities to yoga, in the sense of being aware of the exertion and physical difficulty involved, while maintaining a calm and serene frame of mind. The breathing exercises have also been compared to pranayama exercises in yoga.
As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before starting a hypnobirthing program. If you have any complications of pregnancy or health concerns that may make birth more difficult, also speak to your hypnobirthing educator. Hypnobirthing may still be valuable if you need to explore birthing options such as a caesarean delivery, and is intended to support, not replace, conventional medical intervention. Your hypnobirthing educator will address your concerns and explore the option of personalising the program to your individual requirements.