Hypnobirthing

Hypnobirthing wasn't something I'd ever really heard of before becoming pregnant. It actually wasn't until we told my family that I'd ever really heard it mentioned. My cousin and his partner had a baby girl in October and one of the first things he said when I told him I was pregnant was to get booked onto a hypnobirthing course as it had made a huge difference to their birth experience. 

I was initially sceptical but thought I'd give it a chance and started to do some reading around the topic and realised it actually made a lot of sense especially when you read into the chemical and hormone reactions within the body that trigger/ pause labour. 


Hypnobirthing is a method of pain management which can be used during labour and birth. It involves using a mixture of visualisation, relaxation and deep breathing techniques supported by a knowledge of the physicality of labour and the hormones involved in the labour and birth process. It ultimately aims to provide women with a thorough understanding of birth therefore removing the fear of the unknown. In addition, hypnobirthing removes all words associated with labour which have negative connotations. 


For example:
Contraction  becomes Surge or Wave
Pain becomes Pressure
Waters breaking become Waters releasing
We booked onto a Bump & Baby course, as they offered a discount if booking both their antenatal course (more about these here) and the Hypnobirthing course. Some of the hypnobirthing courses are eye wateringly expensive but even without the antenatal class discount I'd still say Bump & Baby are the most reasonably priced option out there. 

What I would say is it is worth booking these classes a good while in advance. We left it until I was 5 months pregnant to book and struggled to get onto a class. The advice is to take the hypnobirthing course at around 26weeks however we didn't manage to book onto one until I was 36 weeks pregnant!!


So with this in mind, I looked into various different hypnobirthing books so I could start learning and practicing ahead of attending the course. My top recommendation would be Hollie de Cruz, Your Baby, Your Birth: Hypnobirthing Skills For Every Birth.

I can not recommend this book highly enough and I think it's something every pregnant woman should read whether they intend on practicing hypnobirthing or not. The book is written in a really clever way, it's full of facts and medical details but they are presented in a way that is easy to understand, follow and digest - at no point does it feel like a text book.

There are a number of exercises and breathing techniques for labour and birth (for me and Mr H), along with guided meditations to help keep you calm and engaged throughout the labour process. As an anxiety sufferer I can also say that I think these techniques will stay with me post pregnancy as they are a fantastic way of calming and focussing the mind. It's also really funny listening to/ watching Mr H try and keep a straight face whilst reading out the guided mediations and facial relaxing scripts. 

The book is full of positive (and very real) birth stories representing those whose birth went as planned (usually a birthing centre using only water and gas & air as pain relief) and those that didn't go to plan e.g emergency C-Section after a long and difficult labour. What I like about this was that it proved very few people have 'the perfect birth' but that doesn't mean your birth isn't positive. It also proved that no matter what happens, the time spent working on and honing hypnobirthing techniques won't be wasted. If anything, they become even more important if things don't work out quite as planned as the breathing and relaxation techniques help you to maintain a feeling of control.

Most importantly, this book has given me the knowledge to trust my instincts, how to understand my body and baby and how to make informed decisions throughout my pregnancy and beyond. 

The book also really helped to prepare both Mr H and I for the hypnobirthing course with Bump & Baby, it was great to go into the workshop with an understanding of hypnobirthing and the techniques it employs as it allowed us to practice what we'd already learned and hone our techniques and skills as opposed to learning and trying everything out for the first time on the day. 

The course was led by a midwife who was great, she was able to explain everything in really simple terms and helped us feel more confident in the skills we'd already learned from the book. Bump & Baby also provide a booklet which includes additional relaxation scripts, MP3 downloads and all the information you could want on essential oils (very helpful as there's all sorts of conflicting info online). 

We finished the day writing down three affirmations each which we now have stuck to the fridge in the kitchen. For once we actually took ourselves seriously and picked affirmations we knew would really help.... well with one exception "My baby is the correct size for my body" having discovered we're having a whale 4 days earlier this one might have been a little tongue in cheek. 

All in all, I'd highly recommend looking into hypnobirthing, it isn't as hippy dippy has the name would have you believe as it is actually based on science and an understanding of the physiological elements of labour. Whilst the books are fantastic, I definitely recommend also going to a workshop or class as it's helpful to put everything into practice before the big day arrives.  The skills you learn will see you through not only pregnancy, labour and birth but life in general. 

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