Natural pregnancy: HypnoBirthing
The journey from conception to the birth of your little one is one that although incredibly fulfilling, it is often a time of anxiety about all the changes and upcoming birth. We explore the practise of HypnoBirthing, and how it can both calm those nerves and prepare you for the birth.
For many women, the prospect of giving birth is a source of fear, rather than something they feel excited about. Whether this comes from the prevalent association of birth and pain, or it stems from past birthing difficulties, "it is possible to overcome," says Esther Croft of Envisage HypnoBirthing. “Often, you can physically see the anxiety when new students enter the room. There is such a fear of childbirth that they don’t even want to talk about.” Instead, HypnoBirthing aims to prepare parents emotionally, so they are better able to relax and enjoy their pregnancy and even look forward to the birth.
“Humans are like any other mammal when it comes to birth, they need to be safe and relaxed,” says Esther. When this isn’t the case, “the body goes into the fight and flight system, which is fear literally shutting down the birth.” During the five week course, students learn relaxation techniques that also work on any limiting beliefs they may have, so that the body doesn’t automatically go into this fight and flight mode. “Your body knows how to give birth,” says Esther, “it is just a matter of quietening the thinking brain and letting the body relax and let go.” She says HypnoBirthing gives pregnant mothers the strength to be able to “make decisions from a place of knowledge rather than from fear”, both when planning and during the birth. Esther describes it as, “Allowing the mothers to be involved and empowered in their births.” Obviously, birth doesn’t always go to plan, but when unexpected things crop up, such as an emergency caesarean, Esther says, HypnoBirthing can also help mothers deal with that.
A great time to start HypnoBirthing is at around 20 weeks, says Esther, so the mothers will still have good energy levels, as well as having enough time to practise. She also suggests that HypnoBirthing classes are taken before a general antenatal class, so the mothers can use the tools learnt to deal with any fear that may come up.
Esther points out that during pregnancy dads can feel isolated as all the focus is generally on the pregnant mum-to-be. With HypnoBirthing, however, they play an integral role throughout the pregnancy and birth. “It offers a really nice connection for the couple and is good practise in terms of working together for when the baby is born.” In classes, both parents will learn about deep relaxation and how to be aware of their thoughts, which can be useful even after birth with both parenting and life in general.
And the benefits aren’t just restricted to the parents, says Esther. “Often, mothers find their babies are calm, alert, and even sleep better.” This can be from a combination of a calm birth experience and also the deep relaxation that the mother experienced during pregnancy. “All the chemicals we produce, whether from anxiety, stress, or relaxation, are passed onto the baby in utero”, she explains.
“We get such great feedback from our mums, they are on such a high after their birth, and you can hear such a sense of achievement and pride in their voices. It empowers women and shows them that they can do anything they put their mind to."