The short answer is the use of self-hypnosis to remain calm and comfortable during labour. But, I recognise the name does it a huge disservice and to help you to read on I’ll start by mentioning a few things that it most definitely isn’t! For anyone who is imagining Matt Lucas on Little Britain (“look into my eyes, into my eyes not around the eyes”) it is definitely not this 😂. There are no swinging pocket watches, clicking of fingers or clucking like chickens. At no point are you under anyone else’s control or in a trance like state. Pregnant mums and their partners remain in control at all times, it simply gives them the tools to remain calm and relaxed at a time when most women would expect to feel the opposite.
The word Hypnos originates from ancient Greek and means sleep, although ‘sleepobirthing’ wouldn’t be a much better term either! Have you ever woken up to realise you were dreaming about the song playing on the radio or what the DJ was saying? You were in a state of hypnosis – it’s the half-way house between awake and sleep when our subconscious mind is actively listening. We can only get into this state if we are very relaxed and in our busy modern world it takes a fair amount of practice to achieve and sustain this level of relaxation. Once we are relaxed we can start to reframe the way our subconscious mind views birth. All those images of desperate women, screaming and in a state of emergency that we have absorbed over the years, courtesy of the media, can be replaced with much more positive and realistic images of the hard, but ultimately manageable, life affirming and joyous event that labour and birth can be.
Good hypnobirthing classes also include antenatal education as it is equally important. My years of experience as a midwife have taught me what women need in order to have a positive birth experience, and it’s exasperatingly simple. A decent measure of self-belief, knowledge to make decisions that are right for them and a strategy for keeping calm and comfortable during labour. It’s not rocket science and it’s achievable for a considerable proportion of the population.
Hypnobirthing is not about telling women what is the ‘best’ way to give birth to their baby. It’s about educating women about their options, enabling them to make decisions based on fact rather than fear. Because we cannot give true informed consent without being given correct, unbiased, evidence based information to base our decisions on.
Hypnobirthing can’t promise you the ‘perfect birth’, because the idea of a ‘perfect birth’ is just the sort of paternalistic nonsense that leads to women making decisions that they think are viewed as ‘correct’, rather than the decisions they know to be right for them, which usually results in disappointment, dissatisfaction or both. It can’t promise you a natural birth either, because unfortunately in life we don’t always get to choose, regardless of how much we want something and how much we have prepared. Sometimes, some labours are just more complicated than others. What it can give us though, is absolute peace of mind that we did everything within our power to have the birth we wanted for our baby, which usually then enables us to traverse our pathway to birth feeling empowered and confident, even if it’s not the journey we had originally planned.
So there it is all of the elements of my not so secret formula met by doing a hypnobirthing course, self-belief ☑️, knowledge ☑️, strategy for keeping calm and comfortable ☑️. Investing in a hypnobirthing course and a positive birth might just change your life and will certainly change your birth which can have a life-long effect on your relationship with your baby. When you think about it – it’s really quite a small cost in the expensive world of having a baby. A pram by comparison is much more expensive and while very useful, probably not life changing, despite what the manufacturers and retails will try and make you think!
Interested in hypnobirthing? Get in touch today to see how I can help.