Hypnobirthing: What Is It And How Does It Work?

Caitlin from Buds Birthing joins us today to talk about Hypnobirthing, giving you some insight as to how it works and what it involves.

What Is Hypnobirthing

Hypnobirthing is an approach to birth preparation that puts how you feel about birth at the forefront of its practice. It encourages you to get curious about what is happening to your mind and body in labour and arms you with a tool kit of techniques designed to help you meet birth feeling calm, confident and in control.

It sometimes gets a bad rap in the press with people suggesting it’s ‘just breathing’ or that it’s only for a particular type of birth. (Both wrong). And, let’s be honest, its name does it no favours. But the roots of hypnobirthing are grounded more in science than hypnosis.

Every hypnobirthing teacher will have a different approach and the content they teach may vary but generally the below are considered the pillars of hypnobirthing practice so you should expect to see these in most courses.

Mindset

Hypnobirthing begins by taking a snapshot of our current mindset around birth and asks what might be influencing that, be it what we see on telly, or the stories others tell us about their own birth experiences. It then looks at how we can start taking in more positive information about birth to begin to rewrite any unhelpful narratives that aren’t serving us.

Physiology

It also takes a deep dive into how our bodies work during labour. For example, what exactly are the uterus and cervix doing to birth your baby? Understanding the mechanics of birth can go a long way to allaying fears. It helps to explain why you might be experiencing certain sensations alongside tips on how to work with your birthing body to help it work as effectively as possible.

Hormones

Understanding of the cocktail of hormones present during birth can be a game-changer as this is an area you have more control over than you may realise. Hypnobirthing will teach you how to promote the hormones that you want more of and discourage those that might hinder birth.

Birth Partner

Hypnobirthing is for both the person giving birth and their birth partner. Birth partners deserve to feel fully informed and ready to support you as best they can after all. An anxious birth partner is going to be felt by the person giving birth. So, ensuring that your birth partners are clued up, involved in the creation of birth plans, and able to guide the birthing person into relaxation is key. Often birth partners come to the first session saying they are worried about feeling a spare part, and by the end of our time together, they realise just how vital a role they play.

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Birth Planning

But how can you plan for a birth if birth is unpredictable? I always say it’s the creation of the plan that’s as important as the plan itself. You will need to make a lot of decisions when it comes to your birth. And in putting a plan together, you will uncover what it is that’s important to you and expand your knowledge about the things you will need to decide upon.

Decision Making

This is a big topic. Hypnobirthing teaches you a framework within which to make decisions. One that ensures it puts you and your baby front and centre of any decisions being made about your birth, your body, your baby. Within this we also discuss your birth rights, how to navigate the maternity system, what to expect if you are offered or choose to accept any part of an induction, what to expect in a c-section (even if this isn’t the way you’re your planning to give birth), as well as how to choose where to give birth (clue; this is wherever you feel safest).

Birth Environment

What are the conditions that are going to help you to feel safe and secure in your birth environment? Thinking about your senses here can be a useful way of getting specific. What (and who) do you want to see in your birth space? Are there any smells would you like to be present? What tasty snacks would you like? Do you have a particular favourite blanket or pillow you’d like to feel? What sounds (music, hypnobirthing tracks, silence) would benefit you?

Toolkit For Birth

There’s the all-important tool kit of techniques for birth; you will learn a number of different breathing techniques. Each is designed to support you at different points in your labour. You will discover the power of visualisation to help you prepare for birth (a practice used successfully by many athletes and there are plenty of parallels to be drawn here!).

The use of anchors; smells, sounds, and images that bring about deep relaxation is another effective hypnobirthing tool. Acknowledging and releasing fears that may be holding you back from achieving the birth you are planning can be a wonderful part of hypnobirthing. Reframed, these fears can become personalised positive affirmations, and cheerleading mantras for yourself that can provide you the boost you need in the birth space.

The last wonderfully soothing tool to mention is the use of hypnobirthing tracks. These are scripts that use visualisation and hypnosis to bring you into deep relaxation. Listened to frequently through your pregnancy and possibly in your labour, these are designed to help you strengthen the neural pathways in your brain that see birth as something positive.

Postnatal Planning

I couldn’t teach hypnobirthing without giving some attention to how we prepare for the postpartum period, also known as the 4th trimester. With all the new found knowledge about the powerful hormones at play in labour, here you will learn about matrescence (the process of becoming a mother), how to prepare for life with a newborn, what changes to expect, postpartum nutrition, and how to prioritise rest and recovery.

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How Does Hypnobirthing Work?

So now you know what hypnobirthing is, how does it work?

Hypnobirthing works through a mixture of mind-body connection (where your mind goes, your body follows) alongside a whole heap of new knowledge about how your body works and the hormones at play. Knowledge is power!

Hypnobirthing calls on the brain’s neuroplasticity. This is our ability to create new neural pathways, rewiring negative thought patterns through positive reprogramming. It does this by essentially exposing our brains to more positive imagery about birth so that, overtime, we can begin to alter how we think or feel about birth.

Aside from the science, hypnobirthing is also designed to be time for you to relax, perhaps to begin to feel excited about giving birth as well as a space for you to bond with your baby and partner.

Birth, like life, is unpredictable, so while we can’t plan for exactly how it will play out, we can prepare ourselves mentally and tool ourselves up with some techniques to help keep us grounded and calm.

Caitlin – Buds Birthing

If you like the sound of what you’ve read and would like to explore hypnobirthing with me, drop me an email at [email protected] or give me a follow over at @budsbirthing on Instagram.

Hypnobirthing is an unregulated practice meaning you don’t need a formal qualification to call yourself a hypnobirthing teacher. As such each teacher will have a different approach, style and to some degree, content, within their course. I did my teacher training with The Birth Uprising, who promote an inclusive, modern, and evidence-based syllabus.

Check out Buds Birthing Here

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Leanne Warren

Leanne Warren

Happity's Marketing Magician. From blog-writing, to social media and organising the newsletters: she's all about content. When she's not working, Leanne is usually flip-flopping through a series of different creative hobbies, daydreaming about her next meal, and making an endless supply of coffee to keep her fueled throughout the day. That, or she'll be found mindlessly watching her two turtles, Bill and Ted, have Excellent Adventures together.

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