All About Hypnobirthing

You may have heard about hypnobirthing, but what is it? As more and more women flock to antenatal hypnobirthing classes that are run or subsidised by the NHS Trust, you may have questions about hypnobirthing and whether it's right for you. Does it work and does it really relieve those birthing pains? Read on to learn all about hypnobirthing, its benefits for you, your partner and your baby, and more.

What Is Hypnobirthing?

Despite the name, hypnobirthing doesn't mean you have someone dangling a pocket watch in front of your face when you go into labour. It's actually a birth education programme that teaches you various tools, like self-hypnosis, controlled breathing techniques, and relaxation exercises, that can help change your birth experience so it's a peaceful and calm one.

How Does Hypnobirthing Work?

When you are completely relaxed, free from fear and tension, your uterine muscles can work as nature intended, helping you give birth more easily. Without fear and stress, your body can produce more endorphins – a natural relaxant and pain killer – and replace the stress hormones that can cause your muscles to tense up and tighten, which can be the main source of pain.

Does Hypnobirthing Relieve Pain?

Hypnobirthing does not guarantee pain relief, since there are still many factors in childbirth responsible for pain that lie outside your control. Although hypnobirthing can decrease the need for conventional pain relief, it only reduces your perception of the pain.

What Are the Benefits of Hypnobirthing?

Some of the other benefits you get from hypnobirthing is that it can also shorten first (when your cervix starts to gradually open up) and second (when the cervix is fully dilated) stages of labour and reduce the incidence of postnatal depression. Furthermore, hypnobirthing can help your baby experience a calm and gentle birth. This reduces the likelihood of your baby becoming distressed. It also creates a more integral role for your partner, which can enrich and deepen your relationship and make your partner feel more included during labour.

Is Hypnobirthing Safe?

Yes. Despite the name, you won't be in a trance or fall asleep. You will be aware of everything happening around you and you will be totally relaxed and in control. However, do note that hypnobirthing does not prevent complications.

How Can I Learn About Hypnobirthing?

Ask your midwife about hypnobirthing classes or workshops, since the NHS is offering various courses around the country. These can help you and your partner learn about how hypnobirthing works in more detail, what happens to your body during labour, what your birth partner can do to help, and what antenatal preparations you can make, among other things. You will usually get supplemental material for self-study at courses and workshops, such as additional audio material.

If you can't get to a course or you prefer to self-study, then you have other options, like CDs, DVDs, apps, podcasts and books covering hypnobirthing techniques.

When Should I Start Hypnobirthing Training?

The ideal time to book a course is after your 20-week scan, but it also depends on the availability of the classes in your area. For example, some NHS-run hypnobirthing courses may only start from 28 weeks.

Sessions usually last around two and a half hours per session, with four to five classes over the period of a month.

Whether you choose to have your baby in a hospital, at a birth centre, or at home, hypnobirthing can help you have a better birth experience. No matter how your labour goes, the techniques you learn in hypnobirthing can only help, and keep you feeling in control.

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