Hypnosis can be used in pregnancy and childbirth to achieve a positive, calm and gentle birthing experience known as hypnobirthing. Here we ask Regina Curran, Midwife and Hypnotherapist at The Portland Hospital, to explain how this procedure works and to share her top tips for women hoping to experience hypnobirthing.
What is hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing is the term used to describe the use of hypnosis in childbirth. This approach to birthing is designed to provide a calm and natural birth experience and is achieved by teaching pregnant women a variety of techniques to optimise their body’s birthing abilities.
Women who complete a hypnobirthing course will develop a greater confidence in the birthing process and tend to use their natural abilities to optimise this process by assisting and not resisting their natural birth instinct.
Who is hypnobirthing suitable for?
Hypnobirthing is suitable for all women and, whilst some women do approach hypnobirthing with scepticism, most are pleasantly surprised to find how well it works to keep them calm, relaxed and confident in their body’s ability to give birth naturally.
What are the benefits of hypnobirthing?
There are many benefits to using hypnosis in pregnancy and childbirth. Hypnobirthing can result in a shorter labour, less use of medication, less interventions and less augmentation.
Additionally hypnobirthing can help expectant mothers to be more relaxed during pregnancy and labour, to have improved obstetric outcomes and can help their babies to have higher neonatal Apgar scores. Apgar scores are the graded results summarising a routine assessment of a newborn baby at 1, 5 and 10 minutes of age. The midwife (or paediatrician if required) will monitor the baby’s skin colour, pulse, grimace, activity and respiration thereby assessing the baby’s adaptation to life outside the womb.
Women who use hypnobirthing techniques also tend to approach the birth of their baby with confidence and trust the birthing process. The woman is usually very focused on gently birthing her baby and bringing her/him into a very relaxed and calm environment, feeling totally in control of her experience and following her natural instincts.
The benefits of hypnobirthing can also extend beyond labour and women who experience hypnobirthing are thought to be at a reduced risk of postnatal depression.
What type of activities do you do in a hypnobirthing class?
Hypnobirthing workshops such as the four hour course taught at The Portland Hospital aim to empower expectant women with deep relaxation techniques to help them achieve a fear-free birth. Activities taught in such classes include instructions on how to remain calm and instantly relax deeply, advice on how to trust your body and let go of fear, and breathing and pain control techniques. Visualisation and a hypnotic birth rehearsal are also taught.
Is there any evidence that hypnobirthing works?
Yes, lots of studies have been done here in the UK and around the world. These studies have shown that women who use birth hypnosis tend to have shorter and easier labours, bleed less and are less likely to need their labours augmented.
How soon into your pregnancy should you start learning about hypnobirthing?
Most women start hypnobirthing classes at around 30 weeks into their pregnancy. You can benefit from learning hypnobirthing techniques at any time but the more time you have to practise the techniques the easier they will come to you when you need them. It is also a good idea to go to classes rather than teach yourself, as learning a new skill is always easier and more fun when someone is assisting you by giving you hints and advice to make sure that it all feels right for you.
For more information on hypnobirthing and the antenatal classes available at The Portland Hospital, please contact our maternity enquiries line on (0)20 7390 6068 or alternatively visit us online at www.theportlandhospital.com/maternity/pregnancy-support-classes/antenatal-and-postnatal-classes/