Hypnobirthing – HypNO or HypYES?

Hello, my name is Cat and I was sceptical about hypnobirthing.

I’d heard the word banded around and wrongly formed some assumptions without really understanding what it was. It sounded like something for the more hippie mum who wanted to give birth in a field of daisies. I had resigned myself to the fact that my labour would take place lying on a hospital bed with my legs in stirrups, screaming in agony and pushing until I give myself haemorrhoids for life.

I was basing that image purely on what I’ve seen on TV and heard from my friends. Not all stories you hear are horror stories but a lot of them are. There are 2 sides to the labour coin, people either try not to worry you so they paint a ridiculously lovely picture and say those dreaded words “you’ll be fine” or they tell you the pure hell you’re about to endure. Either way, it doesn’t help. All pregnancies are different and therefore, all labours are different so it’s important to go in with an open mind but a good background of understanding.

I recently took a hypnobirthing course with the lovely Jackie from Baby Bumps (www.baby-bumps.net). She came to my house for private sessions but she does classes too. You can also take shorter courses in conjunction with other antenatal courses. It’s a flexible way of learning and you can no doubt find a course that suits you. It was time to learn what this was and take some responsibility for my own labour. I would say that this was an extremely important lesson to learn, that I can take ownership of my birth experience. I don’t need to blindly turn that experience over to my midwife. Of course I will listen to her but I can have some control as well. That’s an empowering feeling when you’re facing the unknown.

Hypnobirthing doesn’t mean you are hypnotized … yes I’m afraid you still have to do the work! It’s a birthing education programme teaching self-hypnosis, relaxation and breathing techniques. You know that feeling when you drive a route you’ve driven a million times, you get to your final destination and you don’t really remember the journey. You think “how did I get here”, your brain goes into a type of override mode whereby it’s functioning perfectly fine but you’re not thinking, it’s second nature. That’s how hypnobirthing works. It will allow you to experience birth in a state of relaxation rather than tension, with tension preventing the muscles in your body functioning as nature intended, meaning pain. Yikes. I’m strictly anti-pain, so I’m going to give this a go. You prepare for all sorts of milestones in your life, why not labour?

You have to put in the work and practice before labour, in the classes you will learn the techniques and then it’s up to you to practice them and give them your all, it won’t just magically happen on the day. If you want to try this, you need to be prepared to commit. You’ll get lots of support materials to help you with this, MP3 files, a booklet, a book and Jackie has provided me with lots of helpful video links (all vetted which I like, rather than me stumbling across something horrendous on Youtube…MY EYES…MY EYES!)

I never would’ve realized how much control I have over my own birth without this course. I now understand what parts of this labour are in my control and now I feel confident to make sure they’re enforced.

This was also particularly important for my husband to learn, he will be my gatekeeper during labour. He will field off unnecessary questions and interruptions while I’m doing what I need to. He said he never would have done that before, he would’ve let me speak for myself but really, I don’t want to be answering questions or listening to chatter if I don’t want to when my husband can take that away. This is also a really good way to get your partner involved. It must be quite hard for them too, I imagine they feel a bit helpless, especially during labour. By attending these sessions with me, my husband now understands his role in the birth process, my thoughts and what I want my labour to be like. We will be a team because we’ve worked together in the preparation.

On a personal note regarding my course with Jackie, she was absolutely lovely, professional and very calming (so much so I fell asleep during one of her relaxation sessions!) If you live near the London area or are prepared to travel I would highly recommend her. Her style was perfectly pitched for me, it wasn’t too heavy or rigid, she allowed myself and my partner to explore what individual methods would work for us while remaining within the parameters of hypnobirthing.

It’s probably hard for you to take my word for it when you don’t know me. You may think I’m a strict vegan who sleeps with dream catchers and walks around outside in bare feet. If that’s you, you’ll take to hypnobirthing like a duck to water. I have an open mind but I’m not spiritual, yet this process makes perfect sense to me and I’ve been surprised how quickly I took it on board given my scepticism. I just know I will have to work hard for it to become second nature for me but I’m prepared to do that.

Come on birth! I’m ready for you!!! After I’ve given birth I will blog about this again and how successful it was so keep your eyes peeled for that late Autumn.

If you’d like to learn more about these courses or hypnobirthing in general, contact Jackie on Jackie@baby-bumps.net or you can find out more via her facebook page: www.facebook.com/AntenatalReflex.

Good luck! I hope your labour isn’t laborious at all!