Monday 12 November 2012

Breathing Your Baby Out – The Benefits of HypnoBirthing

As you are probably aware from my previous post, I am a definite advocate of hypnotherapy in childbirth and ways in which we can birth our babies without fear. As I write this post I am aware of things popping up around me which are helping to promote this same ethos. If you haven’t stumbled upon it yet, please take a look at the ‘Positive Birth Movement’ which has been gathering momentum in recent weeks.

As taken from their website: “We are a grass roots movement,  spreading positivity about childbirth via a global network of free Positive Birth groups, linked up by social media. We aim to challenge the current epidemic of negativity around childbirth by bringing women together to:

Meet Up, Link Up, and Shake Up Birth.

Meet Up - Free, and local to you, find information about regular Positive Birth groups, gatherings and meetings.

Link Up - Join our larger groups in cyberspace to build a global network of shared expertise, power and positivity.

Shake Up - Challenge the culture of fear that surrounds birth, and empower women to approach birth differently.”

I think this is a fabulous idea. We need to dispel the myths that childbirth has to be medicalised, painful, a fearful experience, rather than the positive, empowering experience it can be, no matter what your set of personal circumstances. We can have a positive birth whether it is natural, with pain relief, caesarean; the point here is about creating a “positive birth experience” not one of regret, guilt, humiliation, anger or frustration which can sadly be the case for a large percentage of women. Anything that helps to re-educate women about to embark on this incredible journey is in my mind, a good one.

Today I also came across a video clip from the film “BirthStory: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives”, which documents the incredible work of Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives. She wrote the book Birth Matters (amongst others) and set up the Farm Midwifery Center in Summertown, Tennessee which has birthed approx. 3,000 babies with remarkably good outcomes. Her centre is noted for its low rates of intervention, morbidity and mortality despite the inclusion of many vaginally delivered breeches, twin and multiple births.  Again her ethos is about empowering women whilst giving birth, making their experience joyous, relaxed, exciting, allowing the woman to birth her baby easily, completely relaxed and without fear and surrounded with love. How wonderful does that sound?

When I had Sophia I used the Natal Hypnotherapy CDs which I found a real help throughout my pregnancy and birth. When I fell pregnant with Jess, I again looked into this option and also came across HypnoBirthing - The Mongan Method.

Our HypnoBirthing Course InformationPack

I decided to research it further especially as one of the aspects is to empower the birth companion as much as the mum-to-be in this amazing experience. Many men feel pushed out of the birthing process, not sure where they fit or what they can do to help. With HypnoBirthing the birthing partner (whether your partner, mum, friend, doula) is an integral part in the whole process. You are able to focus on birthing your baby whilst your birth partner is empowered to take care of everything else from dealing with the midwives/medical staff, making sure you have food & drinks, making sure you are comfortable. They are also there to keep you in the right space; relaxed, positive, calm, confident, by using a set of relaxation techniques.

The course runs for 5 weeks each session being two and a half hours in length. In the UK they are run countrywide and you can either attend the course as part of a bigger group or if you prefer you can have one-to-one tuition which is the option my husband and I chose. The five units covered are:
  •          Building a Positive Expectancy
  •          Falling in Love with you Baby / Preparing Mind and Body
  •          Getting ready to welcome your baby
  •          Overview of Childbirth – a Labour of Love
  •          Birthing – Breathing love, Bringing Life
HypnoBirthing uses the breath as well as relaxation techniques to help you birth your baby. Another very important factor with HypnoBirthing is the terminology used to describe certain things. For example, you don’t have contractions, you have surges; you don’t push your baby out, you breath them out. The use of positive, soft terminology is integral to its ethos.

We had a lovely midwife, Jane Pardoe, who was our HypnoBirthing teacher. She was also involved at the beginning of my birth with Jess too. She showed us some incredible video footage in those 5 weeks, of women birthing their babies with ease; homebirths and hospital births. It was truly beautiful to see how it can be.

In my previous post I spoke of the power of the mind over the body and with HypnoBirthing this is very important. Thought precedes reality; in other words whatever you focus on, whether it be of an internal or external origin, becomes manifest. What one says is what one gets. Intention creates experience. If we focus on fear, the possibility of intervention, or a caesarean then we are feeding the subconscious this information and more than likely creating the possibility for it to become a reality. But if we focus on the positive, seeing a pain free, calm, easy, natural birth we are more likely to get this experience instead.

During the five week course you listen to a Rainbow Relaxation CD twice a day. This prepares your body & mind for the birth. You are programming your body and mind for a positive birth experience. You are then able to play this during your birth and because you have programmed your subconscious for a relaxed, calm, easy birth, your body is able to respond in a positive way to help you birth your baby in this manner.

There were many other techniques and relaxation exercises that you practice throughout the 5 week course and one which I found of great value whilst birthing Jess was the “Light Touch Massage”. This type of massage is performed by your birth companion and induces a state of deep relaxation, and produces endorphins (the body’s own pain relief) into your body which helps to reduce pain. It really does work and I again managed a natural, drug-free birth despite the fact that I was induced and Jess was back-to-back, which is not the ideal position to be in. I used yoga moves to shift her position on a few occasions prior to the birth but sadly due to the induction I was unable to get her back in a preferable position before the last phase began.

As with Sophia, my birth with Jess was not as I had intended it to be. I had wanted a home, water birth not a hospital birth. There were a lot of outside stresses going on at the time which I could not control and this definitely affected my state of mind. I wasn’t able to focus solely on the birth as I wanted to. There was heavy snowfall; Sophia had flu, my mother who had come to look after Sophia was also ill. The external circumstances could have definitely been more favourable!

However, when it was decided that I had to have Jess in hospital and they would induce me (not my wish I might add, which I fought till the last), I never felt fear. I still felt a sense of control (which I hadn’t felt with Sophia due to very different circumstances being in France), and my body naturally took over where it hadn’t with Sophia. My birth with Jess was not my “ideal” but it was still positive in many ways and I truly put that down to the HypnoBirthing techniques I had learnt and could implement myself when needed. My husband was also an integral part of the process making me feel safe and bonded to him throughout. He kept me focussed, calm and empowered me to feel in control at all times.

I would wholeheartedly recommend you look into hypnotherapy in pregnancy and childbirth whether it is Natal Hypnotherapy or HypnoBirthing. They are quite different in their approach and will probably appeal to different people, but I cannot fault their ability to empower you to have a relaxed, calm and positive birth experience no matter what your personal circumstances are.

If you are reading this, and are currently pregnant embarking on this truly life changing journey, I wholeheartedly hope your experience is a positive one ;0)



  1. It was great to connect and chat on Twitter today. Looks like the blog is off to a nice start! Keep up the awesome work! I followed! Come and visit us Looking forward to more tweets/posts!

    1. Hi Sugar Aunts - Thanks for your lovely comment and for my first follow on the blog. And glad you are enjoying reading it. Like you it was great connecting on Twitter today. I'll hop on over and take a peek at your blog too. Have a great day x


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