What is Hypnobirthing?
In a few weeks I will speak about hypnobirthing at the Hypno Summit 2021. Last year during the event, I was on holiday in Greece, we stayed in the most gorgeous area of north-eastern Greece. When you look at a map of north Greece you see three peninsulas poking into the Aegean Sea. The hotel we stayed in is on its own tiny peninsula that comes off the middle of the three larger peninsulas. Surrounded by the Mount Athos Gulf, Overlooking the isles of Vourvourou and Mount Athos.
Every morning I took myself onto the balcony with my computer to bathe in the sunrise whilst listening to the Hypno Summit talks of the previous day. I’m sure you can imagine the vivid turquoise colour of the sea, brightening as the orange sun rose over the mountain. It really was the perfect painting. I thoroughly enjoyed the presentations that I watched and alongside my own personal backdrop I have fond memories of the Hypno Summit 2020. Therefore, I feel overjoyed to be able to speak there this year, albeit with a slightly less idyllic setting, and I hope to inspire others in the same way I felt inspired last year.
I’ll share here a little snippet of my talk on hypnobirthing. I have been a hypnotherapist since 2008 and a hypnobirthing practitioner and trainer since 2010. I am also a birth doula. A doula is a trained companion who is not a healthcare professional but supports another individual through a significant health-related experience. You will find doulas that also support others through miscarriage, abortion or stillbirth and death. A doula’s goal, and role, is to help their client feel safe and comfortable. Complementing the role of the healthcare professionals who provide the client’s medical care. Unlike a physician, midwife, or nurse, a doula cannot administer medication or other medical treatment or give medical advice. I have seen first-hand how amazing hypnobirthing is and experienced it with the birth of my two children.
Do I have to have a home birth?
When Sue and I wrote the Fertility2Birth hypnobirthing programme there were very few hypnobirthing schools around. I could probably name you five. Hypnobirthing was something that we knew all pregnant women, alongside their birth partner, benefit from. Yet it appeared to only attract those that were seeking an alternative birth. By alternative, I mean alternative to the recommendation of the midwives and doctors. Some considered just a home birth alternative.
It’s important to note that I am in the UK and for the most part I speak about the regulations here. All countries have different rules and in some home birth is still considered illegal. Nowadays hypnobirthing is increasingly popular. Some hospitals offer hypnobirthing courses as part of their antenatal package. Many people take a hypnobirthing course regardless of their birth preferences. Most people recognise hypnobirthing and almost everyone has heard of it. Especially since our Duchess of Cambridge regularly speaks about using hypnobirthing during pregnancy and birth with all three of her children.
I imagine part of the reason you have decided to read this is to find out exactly what hypnobirthing is. I hope by the end you have a clear idea and feel as passionate as me about the benefits. In a nutshell, hypnobirthing is a birth education programme that helps a birthing parent understand and feel in control of their experience. Hypnobirthing covers the physiology of birth, the regulations of the care provider. And gives techniques to help the birthing person remain in control and informed ensuring the entire experience is consent based.
I don’t know anyone that learned exactly what happens within the body when it births a baby. In fact, I only really got to understand myself when I became a hypnobirthing practitioner. Essentially procreation is the thing we were born to do. Wonderfully we now have heaps of other things to make life meaningful if we choose not to have children. However, from an evolutionary gene’s eye view the purpose of life is to make babies and help genes survive through the generations. In the UK we learn how to (not) make babies as early teens and we learn where a baby comes from – not the belly button apparently. Rarely do we learn the specifics of what makes a pregnant body birth the baby and how it does it.
Did you know that a pregnant person in a coma can give birth? Birthing a baby is a natural process that requires no conscious effort. So why do we hear of so many women being told to start pushing? It is questions like this that a hypnobirthing course answers.
In our developed world technology causes disrupted interoception, how many of you check your watch to make sure you have moved enough? I bet some of you even have a device that tells you when to drink. You receive a notification when it is time to go to sleep? Everything is technology based. The availability of medicines makes it possible for us to avoid suffering in a way that no previous generation from any era could. In many cases, medicine just mask the symptoms of our illnesses, discomforts, and disorders without addressing the underlying disorders that cause them. They take away the feelings and we become less aware of the natural workings of the human body. We lose the ability to feel, explore and understand what is going on within our bodies. And most importantly for birth we begin to fear anything that feels different to what we expect.
By using hypnobirthing to become aware of the physiological process of birth new physical feelings become expected rather than shocking. The fear reduces, and the body can function efficiently. Hypnosis techniques enhance a person’s ability to focus. The hypnotherapists amongst us will all know the analogy of a sports person who gets into what they often call ‘a zone’ before a big event. Using hypnosis techniques learned in a hypnobirthing course and practised during pregnancy, enables a birthing person to get into their zone, fully connecting the mind and body.
In the UK we have the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. They write clinical guidelines which we call NICE guidelines. NICE state that their clinical guidelines are “recommendations on how healthcare and other professionals should care for people with specific conditions. The recommendations are based on the best available evidence. Clinical guidelines are also important for health service managers and those who commission NHS services.”
The NHS follow the NICE guidelines, unfortunately due to the way the NHS functions the guidelines are not personal. Therefore, care is less personalised than in an ideal world. Some people choose to employ an independent midwife to personalise their care however this is expensive. When a pregnant person chooses hypnobirthing, they take authority of their body and their experience. They use the knowledge and tools gained in their hypnobirthing course to command informed consent, making sure the care they receive it personalised and not generalised.
Get your ticket for Hypno Summit 2021 here
Read more about Juliet here.
Hypnobirthing experiences are found here.