Hypnobirthing has become somewhat of a buzzword recently, with celebrity mothers Giovanna Fletcher, Joe Wicks’ girlfriend Rosie Jones, as well as Harry Kane’s fiancée Katie Goodland opting for this form of pain management. But was is it and why is it beneficial for mums-to-be?
What is hypnobirthing?
At its core, hypnobirthing is a method of pain management, involving a mixture of visualisation, relaxation and deep breathing techniques to help women during labour and birth. Breathing exercises have long been part of antenatal classes, but hypnobirthing takes this and adds mindfulness techniques to help mums-to-be concentrate on their body and mind connection, in the lead up to, during and after the birth of their baby.
Why is it beneficial?
Many studies have shown that a positive birth experience can have a profound impact on maternal psychological and emotional well-being. This can enable women to embark on motherhood feeling confident, strong and capable.
“Hypnobirthing allowed me to let go of my preconceived ideas about childbirth and embrace a fearless, positive and calm approach. Surrounding yourself with positive affirmations, scents, sounds and people are key. The breathing techniques are essential to remaining calm and in control during childbirth,” says Jemma Hoare, who had a hypnobirthing experience with her first baby.
It’s all about empowering women and their birth partners to create positive birth experiences.
Are the techniques only useful for pregnancy and birth?
No – the tools you learn from hypnobirthing can help to support you not only in pregnancy and during birth, but far beyond that. And it’s not just beneficial for mums; the learnings can be really helpful for birth partners, too.
Does it mean you don’t need pain relief?
This is a contentious subject, with Harry Kane having hit the headlines recently for praising his fiancée for having a pain-free birth – all thanks to hypnobirthing.
Well, while hypnobirthing is thought to reduce the amount of pain a woman endures throughout labour, it doesn’t necessarily replace the need for pain relief. It can be used alongside anything the hospital might offer from gas and air to epidural.
“Hypnobirthing doesn’t guarantee you a complication-free childbirth, but it does give you the right techniques to help deal with whatever comes your way,” Jemma tells us. “It’s not just for mums who want intervention-free births – it’s for everyone, including those who will undergo Caesarean section or any other medical procedure.”
Remember, every woman is different, as is every birth. There is no right or wrong way to approach your birthing experience, it all comes down to personal choice.
Hypnobirthing is just one option that may help you to learn more about the physiology of birth and, as a result, release any fear you have around bringing your baby into the world.
One mum, Elle, tells us about her hypnobirthing experience.
I found out about hypnobirthing from watching a mum on Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute. She had the most amazing, calm birth and I immediately knew that’s what I wanted. I’ve always been scared of hospitals and needles, so I thought addressing birth in a more positive attitude would banish some of those nerves for me.
One breathing technique I learnt was to inhale for four and exhale for eight, which helps to control the pain during contractions. I still use the technique now, as it’s been amazing for easing any little bits of anxiety I get. When I went into labour, I used this breathing technique as well as listening to my hypnobirthing tracks, to remain calm whilst we travelled to the hospital.
When we arrived, following our midwife’s advice, I had an aromatherapy massage whilst my partner, Josh, said some positive affirmations for me – another hypnobirthing technique we learnt. He told me things like, “You’re strong and confident, you can do this.” This kept me motivated as we breathed through every contraction together. It’s definitely altered Josh’s mindset and he still says a lot of the positive affirmations whilst I’m breastfeeding, to keep me motivated when I find it tough.
During my labour, I was moved into a birth pool suite with hypnobirthing music in the background and battery powered tea lights lit our room. It happened quite quickly, so I had no time for room sprays, reading our birth preferences or even changing into my bikini; within 10 minutes I was in the pool.
The following contractions caused my waters to immediately break and I felt the urge to push. I panicked initially, but my midwife told me to calmly follow my body’s instructions. I struggled to focus on the down breathing but followed the midwife’s advice and, an hour later, our daughter was born.
The midwives kept talking about how perfect, calm and “textbook” our birth was, especially as a young, first-time mum. Josh and I felt so proud to bring our daughter into the world so positively.
Even though we expected to have more time to prepare for the birth, hypnobirthing taught us enough to have an incredibly calm delivery.
I never believed I could “breathe through” every contraction, but I did. I really believe that bringing our baby into the world in this positive way has made our relationship as a family much stronger and more loving.