Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hypnobirthing

What is Hypnobirthing?

To quote Teri Gavi Jones and Sandra Handford, author of Hypnobirth and founders of Hypnobirth Midwives UK, “to me hypnobirth is a way of thinking, an attitude, a philosophy, a physical and mental preparation for birth”. When asked about whether I was hypnotised while hypnobirthing, I explain that hypnobirth is a form of self-hypnosis, very different from the stage hypnosis we are more familiar with seeing on television. Hypnobirthing gives you a tool to put yourself into deep relaxation, and all takes place in your head with the aid of scripts, affirmations, visualisation, breathing and meditation. In my personal experience with The Wise Hippo Birthing Program, the relaxation techniques I learnt became coping strategies that I used throughout pregnancy and continue to use in life during times of stress. 

Why Might You Consider Hypnobirthing?

Being equipped with the capability to keep yourself in a calm and relaxed state through labour can offer great comfort both during surges and whilst preparing for “the big day”. An added bonus of having hypnobirthing up your sleeve is just knowing it’s there can reduce your stress levels and fear of giving birth (Dr Grantly Dick Read’s Childbirth Without Fear is a great book if you are feeling worried or anxious. Written in the 40s, this book is considered to have started the natural childbirth revolution and it is still as relevant to today’s Mums-to-be).

Hypnobirthing is considered a method of pain management, although if you are more calm and relaxed, by nature you will already experience less pain, after all, pain is only something we perceive in the mind. Thinking in this manner helps those hypnobirthing to be in control of their pain, or discomfort, the term many hypnobirth-ers prefer to use to refer to pain.

Hypnobirthing helps women to feel confident in their body’s ability to be able to birth their baby in the way they want to. Many hypnobirthing practitioners will also help parents-to-be think about their desired outcomes for the birth, often in the shape of a birth plan.

Having a birth plan makes a parent think about how they want to do things, and if somewhere along the line things don’t go according to plan, as long as the Mum-to-be is consulted, and is able to make an informed choice, this can still be empowering and a positive experience. “One would consider HypnoBirthing because it improves the birthing experience – even if the birth is medicalised,” adds June Poole, a hypnobirth practitioner based in Jersey.

How Does Hypnobirthing Work?

As we’ve already established, when it comes to hypnobirthing, there is no moustached man with a pocket watch as a pendulum saying “look deep into my eyes”! You can think of hypnobirthing as a “self-hypnosis” method to reach deep relaxation, which “brings a heightened state of consciousness, and with it, you can change your thinking, kick bad habits, and take control of the person you are[1]”. Ultimately, hypnobirthing is all about taking control of your body and mind, and your birth.

“It works by educating women (and their partners) about the birthing process, teaching them a technique which acts as a toolkit for calmness and control, and instilling confidence in themselves and the birthing process,” explains June. There are several different hypnobirthing methods which all vary slightly, the main similarities they all have are the use of visualisation, affirmations, music and positive thinking.

When Do You Use Hypnobirthing?

We mentioned earlier that the use of hypnobirthing starts way before the birth. I learnt with The Wise Hippo Birthing Program and listened to my main visualisation before going to bed for months before the birth. They also equipped me with recordings of: positive birth affirmations, which I would listen to on my drive into London for work, a recording to listen to whenever I felt upset or sensitive, and a confidence booster. I still listen to the visualisation recording on the rare occasion I struggle to get to sleep, and use other coping mechanisms I learnt regularly.

Who Invented Hypnobirthing?

Dany Griffiths, co-creator of The Wise Hippo Birthing Program says “It’s a controversial statement but I believe the term HypnoBirthing belongs to Marie Mongan. She is the creator of the only Hypnobirthing programme.” June, who was fortunate enough to study with the mother of hypnobirthing in 2003, concurs: “Marie Mongan invented HypnoBirthing and introduced it to the rest of the world in 1989. Marie, or Mickey as she is often called, introduced HypnoBirthing in 1989 when her first daughter Mauro was pregnant. Marie herself had sought natural births in the 1950’s when having her own children.”

We mentioned earlier Dr Grantly Dick Read and his book Childbirth Without Fear, and how it was the start of the natural childbirth revolution. Well, Marie Mongan was greatly influenced by this book. “Read discusses why women have pain in labour and why they didn’t need to, and a “fear-tension-pain” syndorme which explains why women experience pain in an otherwise natural physiological activity,” explains June.

Which Hypnobirth Practitioner is the Right One?

In short, there is no right or wrong hypnobirth method or practitioner, but it is important that you find someone that you connect with. Most practitioners will be more than happy to meet for a tea or coffee before you sign up to their course, and some even offer free taster sessions to help you make your decision.




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