If you’re pregnant, chances are you’ve heard of hypnobirthing. Celebrities from Angelina Jolie to Jessica Alba are said to be fans of the techniques, but it almost seems too good to be true.
That is, until you learn how it really works.
What is hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing is essentially a form of birth preparation, and dealing with any fear or anxiety you have through breathing, hypnosis, and relaxation techniques.
It’s a process of becoming informed about the physiology of birth and how your mind and body can work together. You can enhance the process of birth - you have the power, you just need to learn how to use it.
Think of it like sports psychology for the mind. The more you prepare, the more likely you are to perceive birth as a positive experience.
How does hypnobirthing work?
Basically, you’ll learn how to trick your mind into producing more oxytocin (the hormone that facilitates labour and makes your uterus contract). The more oxytocin you have, the more likely it is that your labour is manageable, smooth and quick.
The techniques you’ll learn also help you release any fears you have, which causes tension in your body, and leads to experiencing more pain.
What will I learn during a hypnobirthing course?
SO MUCH. Not only will you learn some amazing oxytocin-creating techniques (more on that below!), you’ll learn how to relax more deeply and easily as you develop a better understanding of the process of birth.
Plus, lots of other practical information that’ll help you feel confident, calm and fully prepared for your big moment.
Positive thoughts and affirmations
During a hypnobirthing course, your teacher will share guided hypnosis or guided relaxations that aim to release worries and introduce new positive beliefs to make you feel more confident and calm.
During these sessions, your teacher will focus on optimistic thoughts and words to do with labour, birth, and parenthood. For example, they might replace the word ‘contraction’ with ‘surge’, or ask you to repeat ‘I am calm, I am confident, I am a natural at motherhood’.
As your body and mind will be in a completely relaxed state, these affirmations and ideas can bypass the neocortex (aka the thinking part of your brain) and go straight to your subconscious. This means that after a while, and with regular practice, you start to believe these words and actually feel more relaxed, positive, and possibly even excited, when you think about birth.
Hypnobirthing also heavily focuses on relaxing breathing techniques - which is key during your contractions and the pushing stage.
One of the deep-breathing techniques you’ll use during your contractions is called ‘up’ breathing. Why? Well, during contractions your uterus draws upwards, so by breathing with your body, you can help the process along. If you’re tense, your body has to work harder which can cause more pain, make your contractions less efficient, and extend labour.
You’ll also learn ‘down’ breathing for the pushing stage of labour as this is when your uterus will be working downwards to move your baby down the birth canal. This breathing exercise helps you work with your body and loosens your pelvic floor to allow for an easier (and swifter!) exit.
These simple-yet-effective techniques work because when you breathe deeply and calmly you reduce your heart rate, which in turn makes you feel more relaxed and produces that all-important oxytocin. Clever, huh?!
Why should I take a hypnobirthing course?
For anyone that’s feeling a little anxious about birth, or worried they don’t know enough, hypnobirthing is for you. A hypnobirthing course will help you release those fears and worries, help you sleep better, and overall feel better leading up to labour. It’ll empower you to believe in yourself and your ability, and have confidence in your birth experience.