What Is Hypnobirthing? And Is It Right For You?
There are classes and courses galore for pregnant mums, from antenatal aquacise to yoga and everything in between - but how do you know what’s worth spending your time and money on? Hypnobirthing has quickly become one of the top activities for expectant mums, so we’re answering some of your questions about this slightly mysterious practice.
What Is Hypnobirthing?
If you’ve never attended a hypnobirthing class, you’re probably wondering what on earth is involved. Well, the good news is that you won’t be put under any sort of hypnosis or expected to do anything too weird; it’s actually an incredibly relaxing experience.
Hypnobirthing can be studied at home using books and CDs, or with a teacher in groups or individual sessions. It teaches relaxation and self-hypnosis skills using visualisation techniques, the idea being that by learning to harness your mind, you can not only move your focus away from pain but also dictate how your brain processes it.
Hypnobirthing can be studied at home using books and CDs, or with a teacher in groups or individual sessions
Hypnobirthing: What To Expect?
While practitioners may teach their hypnobirthing classes in different ways, the core elements of a hypnobirthing class remain the same. You’ll be invited to get into a relaxed position, usually seated or lying on a yoga mat. Then, you’ll close your eyes, and your hypnobirthing instructor will begin a guided meditation.
The meditations give you practice in visualising tranquil scenarios - one week, you may be imagining a hot air balloon floating on the breeze, another you might be watching waves crash on the shore. Believe it or not, these imaginary scenes are designed to help you ride out your contractions in labour - and they really do work.
At the end of the session, you’ll sit back up and readjust to your surroundings. If you’ve taken part in a group session, the chances are good that at least one person in your class will have fallen asleep. Pregnancy is exhausting, so it’s hardly a surprise that when encouraged to lie down and relax some people nod off. If that person is you, don’t sweat it, it’ll be someone else’s turn next week!
Hypnobirthing teaches relaxation and self-hypnosis skills
Does Hypnobirthing Work?
Now, I hold my hands up and declare myself a cynic of all things “woo”. I don’t believe in tarot, aromatherapy or anything along those lines, and I approached hypnotherapy with the same cynicism. But hand on heart, this works.
Of course, the more you buy into the process and commit to it, the more likely it is to work. While hypnobirthing alone wasn’t enough to get me through either of my birthing experiences, I’ll openly admit I could have tried harder.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, as anyone who has gone through labour will tell you, even the best-laid plans can go out the window if there’s a bump in the road. With the best will in the world, there are times when no amount of deep breathing will do the job of medical pain relief; I’m looking at you, inductions. That being said, even a cynic like me (who loves a good epidural) found hypnobirthing helpful during those long hours in the early stages of labour.
So, in summary: in my unbiased, anecdotal opinion, I’d wholeheartedly recommend hypnobirthing to any pregnant mums who have the time and cash to invest in classes or a self-taught course.
At the very least, it’s a weekly hour of “me time” that you more than deserve!
Want more straightforward insight? Read Pregnancy: The Honesty Edition.
Originally from New Zealand, Sarah is a mother to two boys and has lived in the UK for the past 10 years. She is a home-educator, freelance writer, Netflix-binger and has a penchant for strong black coffee.