I was in a delivery ward recently and a midwife said “oh you teach hypnobirthing that’s fantastic - it doesn’t work for everyone but we (in the delivery ward) can definitely see it helps. It changes a woman’s mindset.”
I’ve been thinking about this ever since, and the whole question of ‘does it work’.
To answer that question we need to define what ‘hypnobirthing that works’ looks like. What do we want ‘it’ to do?
This comes down to the mothers personal goals and desires - personal being the operative word here. It will be different for everyone.
I really wish I had asked that midwife what happens when it works! But I have a feeling she was referring to birth without pain relief or medical intervention - a ‘natural birth’ if you will, (though for me, all birth is natural). This is THE single most common misconception of hypnobirthing.
When I teach The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme, I often ask couples to make a list of words or phrases they would like to be associated with the birth of their baby. Here’s what comes up regularly:
to be in control
to be calm and not afraid
not to be in pain
to feel empowered
to avoid the epidural
not to be in labour for too long
to give birth with as little medical intervention as possible
to enjoy pregnancy and feel excited about birth rather then terrified
for mum and baby to be healthy and happy (I get them to add Dad in here because he’s important too!!)
When setting goals to work towards and talking about desires around birth there are many different factors which need to be considered. There may be specific fears and concerns to be addressed from previous births or experiences. There may be medical factors to be considered. There may be issues around psychological or mental health to be taken into account.
Then there is the big factor - you, mum, are not the boss of labour. Baby is in the driving seat for this one. So while its good and important to work towards a goal, and there is plenty you can do to help, prepare for and influence a positive outcome, you must keep your mind open to changes of plan.
This is where hypnobirthing really helps.
Couples who have attended hypnobirthing classes (which is 12.5 hours of classes with additional hours of practice - so not to be sniffed at!) can readily accept and calmly deal with any situations that arise in the birthing scenario.
The different tools in their birthing toolkit help them to help their baby through the process. Mum uses her breathing techniques to keep calm - dad uses massage, affirmations hip compressions, relaxation exercises to help mum.
It is about having the right birth on the day. It is about leaving the delivery ward feeling amazing, proud, delighted, happy, and excited no matter what way your baby choses to come into the world.
The added bonus is, that because hypnobirthing women are informed, understanding the physiology of birth, they are not afraid and feel confident in their ability. They have a birth tool-kit at their disposal to help them focus, relax and keep in control. This often results in that ‘natural’ intervention free birth the midwife may have been referring to.
So does hypnobirthing ‘work’? Absolutely.
Like the midwife said ‘it changes a woman’s mindset’.