If you have been following me for a while you will know that I hypnobirthing with both girls and I am a huge fan of the practice. I have shared lots of things on social media about how it worked for me, but I was surprised to get so much push back and feeling of negativity towards hypnobirthing from quite a few other mums. So, after having lots of chats with others about why they didn’t like the concept of hypnobirthing I thought I would share my experience and put some myths to rest.
When I was pregnant with Pepper I had heard of hypnobirthing but didn’t really know what it was. I was (as many women are) terrified of the giving birth bit and was completely dreading it. When I was then told I should have an induction I was even more scared, so I looked online for a hypnobirthing course that might help me. You can read a couple of blogs I wrote about my experience week by week, but long story short, I went into the experience terrified of birth and left it very excited to experience my birth journey.
Then with Indie I knew I wanted to hypnobirth again and I did a little refresher course to give me some more confidence in the techniques that worked for me and also to get my mindset ready to give birth in a pandemic. For me it was always about mindset, never about pain relief or a more connected experience, it was about a positive and confident mindset in both the run up to the birth and the labour itself. Hypnobirthing absolutely provided me with tools and knowledge I needed to achieve that and I think it saved me from a meltdown when I was labouring alone because of Covid.
It isn’t for everyone and that is absolutely fine. I am not here to tell you that you should or shouldn’t do it, but I thought it was important to debunk some of the myths that might put women off. For me it was an incredible tool that I will use again and again, but if it doesn’t appeal to you, then that’s cool too.
It’s your birth and whatever works for you is what’s right for you.
So, here are some myths…
You are in a state of hypnosis
I think this is one of the most common push backs I hear from people when I talk about hypnobirthing. Maybe the name is a little misleading, but hypnobirthing isn’t about being ‘hypnotised’ in the way that you see on the TV. It isn’t like the comedy shows when they drop into a deep sleep and have no idea about the tricks being played on them.
I recently spoke to Sophie Fletcher, Author of Mindful Hypnobirthing, about it and she explained it to me with such clarity. She said that with hypnosis you simply quieten down the salience area of your brain, which is the part that analyses thoughts. By doing this you are then able to receive suggestions and respond to them without interruption from your analytical brain. The reason this is important is because analysis is often made up of past experiences or things you have been told by others, so past trauma or a friend who had a bad birth experience will come into your mind at this moment and perhaps cloud your judgement.
Hypnobirthing simply uses hypnotherapy techniques to help you have a clear mind in the moment you need it most. At no point will you be out of control or not able to make decisions that you want to.
It can only be used for a natural birth
I think the first thing to remember is that every single birth is natural. It doesn’t matter whether you give birth vaginally, via a c-section, induction or any other type of intervention, you are doing something that is 100% natural and right for you and your baby. But I think what people mean here is that it can only be used for a “straight forward” vaginal birth.
Wrong. Hypnobirthing can be used at any type of birth.
I have had two inductions and used my hypnobirthing techniques both times. My second birth was during the Covid restrictions so I used them even more. It is more about mindset and trying to keep yourself positive and in your own zone, whatever that birth zone may look like for you. For me, it was always about feeling in control of what was happening to me, rather than feeling like my body was controlling me. I really managed to get myself into a positive mindset and strong breathing rhythm because of the hypnobirthing I had done prior. And you can still use all the techniques if you give birth abdominally too, there are even specific hypnobirthing courses tailored to cesarean deliveries if you know in advance that your journey will take you in that direction.
You can’t have pain relief
Wrong again. You can use hypnobirthing techniques alongside any pain relief. It was never sold to me as a replacement for pain relief, though it may of course help you to feel as though you might not need any other pain relief. I always used the tools to get me to the point of which I felt pain relief was my next option. With my first labour, circumstances meant I could only have gas and air for the pushing part, but with my second I had gas and air and pethidine at a slightly earlier stage. You can hypnobirth and have any sort of pain relief you wish, it’s all about your own personal choice.
You are encouraged to avoid medical intervention
This was one of the misconceptions that shocked me the most. In my opinion, no hypnobirth instructor or course should actively encourage you to ignore medical intervention. Instead, it’s about making informed decisions and giving you the tools to feel in control of situations that otherwise might feel a little forced upon you. It’s all about choices and feeling empowered to make them.
One thing I was pleasantly surprised by during my hypnobirth experience was the amount of time we spent on birth preferences and understanding what choices we actually had, there are so many! I had no idea I could be as in control of my birth and pre birth experience as I was. I followed all medical advice both times, but I felt empowered enough to ask all the questions and come to decisions alongside the consultants, not just be told what was going to happen to me and my baby.
It’s for hippies
Now, this is a tough one. Some hypnobirthing instructors will have a more spiritual and alternative approach (what some people might call hippy), and that’s fab if that’s what is right for you. But, if that isn’t your thing then there are plenty of courses available that are not like that at all. Both courses I have completed have focused very much on the science and the practicalities of birth and ensuring we were fully informed as a couple about the tools we have at our disposal to help us have a positive birth. I also love a bit of crystal healing and meditation when I can, so I added some bits in about that myself as an after part of the courses. I put femine crystals by my bedside and had them with me in labour. If you are into that, then these are the ones I bought.
It’s also really important to connect with whatever hypnobirthing practitioner you choose and be open and honest about what you want to gain from the experience. Both times, the practitioners were able to tailor my course to discuss and teach things that were key for us. And if there are aspects of hypnobirthing that you don’t think you want to embark on, then that’s fine too, just be open and honest. I would however say that it’s important to keep an open mind, as some of the techniques might seem like something you aren’t interested in, but they may help you more than you think.
This is true to an extent, but I guess it’s all relative to what you are hoping to gain. For me, I would say learning the techniques face to face was priceless, others may think it could have been done by reading a book. So if you don’t want to or can’t invest the money in a face to face experience there are plenty of books you can buy, audiobooks you can listen to and MP3’s available online too. Below are some of my recommendations. They might also help you to make a decision about whether or not a course is right for you before spending hundreds in advance.
I hope this helped anyone looking to embark on a hypnobirthing journey or torn between whether it’s right for them or not. Remember that ultimately it’s your experience, your body, your baby and your birth. Do what’s right for you.
Book: Mindful Hypnobirthing
Book: The Calm Birth Method
Hypnobirthing tracks - I found the relaxation one particularly helpful: Mindful Hypnobirthing
Spotify podcast: The Hypnobirthing Podcast
This is the playlist I listened to before birth and during labour: Calming instrumental covers