What is hypnobirthing? Just a bit of breathing?!

October 11, 2021

What is hypnobirthing? Just a bit of breathing?!

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of "hypnobirthing"? 

Breathing?! (The cliched idea of a circle of pregnant couples all doing deep breathing together in some sort of weird dress rehearsal!) 

 A few affirmations? (That episode from Friends where Chandler is trying to give up smoking.... "You are a calm, confident woman...!"

There are lots of stereotypes that come with the idea of hypnobirthing. Some are true (sure, there's a breathing technique or two!) but some are wildly wrong. And almost all under-estimate the breadth and depth of my hypnobirthing & antenatal course. 

Am I going to have you doing breathing techniques and repeating affirmations for 10 hours? Obviously not! That would be ridiculous and boring! So what is covered on my hypnobirthing & antenatal course?

A detailed understanding of how birth works & how to support your body

I'm not just going to show you a doll coming out of a pelvis and then let you know which pain relief you can take. (That's a slightly exaggerated version of what I learnt in one of my antenatal courses, when I was pregnant for the first time!) You need to understand what your body is doing in labour. What the point of each contraction is. What your various body parts are doing. Which hormones need to be in play. And how you can really support the process! All the things you can do to make labour and birth shorter, calmer and more comfortable. Because there is so much! And this really helps you to trust your body, trust your baby and trust the birth process. Understanding how incredibly well you were designed means that you can feel much calmer about birthing your baby. 

Positive mindset techniques

Affirmations, relaxations, and perspective - all make such a difference to your mindset about birth. And these are transferable skills that you can be using in pregnancy and post-natally! Trust me when I say that a positive mindset will help you when you have a teething baby on the other side! Remembering that everything is temporary, that you are always the one in control, and feeling confident in your ability and your decision making will make pregnancy, birth and parenthood a much more enjoyable experience. 

Knowing your rights & options

I wish that this wasn't necessary, and that all your rights and options were always explained to you by your midwife or consultant, but its sadly not the case. Our NHS is too under-resourced and under too much strain. So I cover all of this with you - what you can say "no" to, what you can request, what alternatives might be relevant for you. Knowing your rights and options can be a real game-changer if you are told that you need to be induced / should plan a caesarean birth / cannot give birth in a birth pool / need to be on the labour ward etc. 

Breathing & relaxation techniques

There it is! Breathing! It probably takes up about 5% of my course though. It comes coupled with other relaxation techniques - to calm both your body and your mind - because tension, fear and anxiety will all interfere with labour and the birth process. So this means learning to calm your mind but also learning to really recognise where you're holding tension in your body and relaxing and letting go of every little bit. 

Birth partner role

Your birth partner is an incredible asset! And with the right knowledge and tools, birth partners are worth their weight in gold. They should be protecting your environment, supporting your breathing, ensuring you feel calm and safe, helping you to feel physically more comfortable, advocating for you where necessary and doing all the practical stuff. I really encourage birth partners to join my course - sure, some come as sceptics! But all leave as converted fans of hypnobirthing. 

Positioning & comfort measures

Something which is often missing from antenatal courses is how important your physical positioning is during pregnancy, labour and birth. Your positioning will affect your baby's positioning, how quickly your labour progresses, the sensations that you feel in labour, and your chance of tearing / an assisted birth. So it's a really important aspect of birth prep. There are also a whole load of comfort measures for you and your birth partner to use, before you even feel the need to move onto stronger pain relief! If you ever feel the need for stronger pain relief! From water to massage to stroking to breathing to visualisation. Stuff that has been shown to work again and again. 

Navigating the maternity system

The NHS is wonderful! But it is a machine. And this means that there is inevitably a 'one size fits all' in many aspects. So it's really important that you seek out personalised care. Because what is best for me and my baby won't necessarily be best for you and your baby. I make sure that you know who to speak to, what role each person fulfils and where to turn if you're not feeling listened to and heard. 

The "What if...?" scenarios

What if I suddenly get diagnosed with a condition in pregnancy? What if I'm "high risk"? What if I'm told I need to be induced? What if I need to plan a casearean birth? What if I end up having an unplanned caesarean? What if my birth plan can't happen? What if I can't give birth where I want to? 

We go through all of this in detail - because there's no point only planning for your dream birth scenario! We must talk about the "what if"s so that you know how likely or unlikely they are, how you can stack the odds in your favour for the birth that you want - and how you can make different types of birth positive births for you! 

So there you go...not just a bit of breathing! This course is the most comprehensive approach to your birth preparation. I have constantly evolved it to ensure that you don't emerge into new parenthood saying: "Why did nobody tell me about that?!" 

If you'd like to join me for a group or private course, either face to face in or near Tonbridge or online, get in touch. I'd love to support you on this adventure!


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