I can’t quite remember how I came across hypnobirthing, but I’m really glad I did. It helped me relax in the run up to my first birth, the calm voice from the CD ingrained in my mind that things will happen exactly as they should. This helped me avoid the panicky stage prior to the birth. It also helped me block out negative images of birth and unhelpful comments of my colleagues, like ‘are you getting scared yet?’.
It was great pre-birth. And it was even better when it came to birth itself. I had a 16 hour labour with only self-hypnosis and hot water pool as means of pain management. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was very much manageable. Time seemed to fly past me and I only found out how long it all took once Little F was finally born.
Even the final emergency intervention, due to Little F’s heart rate dropping, is a bit of a blur. I had an episiotomy and a kiwi cup was used to help me push Little F out. I have found out since that I should’ve had an epidural before such a procedure, instead I only had local pain relief injection and self-hypnosis. I do not recall feeling anything…
With such a great experience of self-hypnosis, all I can say is:
Hurrah to the power of the human mind!
Naturally, after such a positive experience I want to have a hypnobirth with my second child. This means slowing down and relaxing in the weeks preceding the birth. And blogging taking a back seat. Time devoted to blogging will now be taken over by hypnobirth preparation sessions with my trusty CD and lavender aromatherapy oils.
WHAT IS HYPNOBIRTHING?
I’ve told you all this, but I still haven’t explained what is hypnobirthing. It is essentially a method of self-hypnosis, which helps you switch off your conscious mind and relax, letting you trust your body to birth the baby. At the same time you remain in control, no one can make you do anything you don’t want to do.
It sounds a bit weird and rather hippy, but it works. If you devote the time it takes to prepare and believe it works, it will work for you and give you a calm and manageable birth without the need for artificial painkillers (they all have some negative effect on mother and/or baby).
Now that you know what it is and what it promises, it’s time to explain how it works. The reason you need to switch off your conscious mind is fear. It is your mind, which may tell you to be scared of birth, because of the western society’s traumatising view of birth. Fear triggers release of adrenaline in your body. Adrenaline in turn tightens your muscles, which makes contractions more painful, but less effective in pushing baby out. This is because you enter what is called ‘fight or flight’ mode. This is our body’s response to situations we fear and is an evolutionary mechanism we have inherited from our ancestors. In mammals it stops or significantly slows down birth until the mother has found a calm and safe place to birth her baby. In short, if you feel sacred the birth will take longer and be more painful.
The preparation to hypnobirthing is simple. All you need to do is to listen to a hypnobirth preparation CD, starting in 3rd trimester once or twice a week, and from 35th week once a day if possible. My session is just under 40 minutes. There are also hypnobirthing classes. I have never attended one, but I know mums who have and their reviews were mixed. None of them managed to get through the whole birth on hypnobirting alone. Based on their and mine experiences I can only say that it’s all about being focused and devoting time to preparation, there’s no need to spend lots of money on classes. My CD was only £10 or so.
The hypnobirthing sessions prepare your body and mind for the upcoming birth. You will learn breathing techniques and follow a guided visualisation. The former is all about getting used to a particular way of deep, calm and rhythmical breathing, which brings you into relaxed state of self-hypnosis. Initially I found that my mouth was getting dry, as you breathe out through the mouth, but I found a way to avoid this. That’s why it is important to practice.
The particular CD I have uses a visualisation of a perfect beach, as a safe place. It’s not ideal for me, as I’m more of a mountain meadow kind of person, but I managed to work with it. During labour I did find it helpful to listen to sound of the waves.
Practicing self-hypnosis, also makes you more susceptible to positive suggestions repeated over and over again during preparation sessions. It is amazing how well this works! I was much more relaxed about the birth after listening to the CD a couple of times, and after 10 or so I was already feeling confident and calm when thinking about labour. And future life with newborn and a toddler.
There is also a few triggers and techniques, which help you control pain levels. Some people manage to switch it off almost completely, but it’s a personal things how much control you will gain over your body’s physical responses.
BENEFITS OF HYPNOBIRTHING
My birth experience wasn’t ideal and reading it back it could in fact be seen as traumatic. Thanks to being in a calm and relaxed state of self-hypnosis I have a positive memory of the birth.
Hypnobirth makes even a long labour manageable and it removes the need for painkillers. Each pain management method has some negative effects on mother, baby or both.
Being relaxed speeds up the labour. Self-hypnosis allows you to remain calm and relaxed throughout the entire birth. .
Have you had any experiences with hypnobirthing? I would love to hear from you, so please leave me a comment or get in touch on Twitter (@mumbalance).