Written by hypnobirthing practitioner Beccy Angove
I think most people have heard about hypnobirthing by now. A few people in the public eye, the most recent being Meghan Markle, have even made the mainstream tabloids with news of birth plans involving hypnobirthing, home births and doulas. I think most people are starting to understand that Hypnobirthing isn’t really about hypnotising pregnant women at all and that actually most of what we teach is based on scientific fact. But I do still feel that there is a misconception about hypnobirthing. I think most people associate hypnobirthing with a calm gentle birth, perhaps drug free? A serene environment? Relaxation tracks or music playing in the background? The birthing mother glowing with beauty and moaning gently as she breathes her baby out into the world? Am I wrong? This can indeed be a reality for some women and hypnobirthing techniques can certainly help you achieve this but it’s not a guaranteed outcome of studying hypnobirthing. As any mother will know, birth can be wildly unpredictable, it is raw, all encompassing and powerful; a force like no other. It is definitely advisable and beneficial to keep positive thoughts and outcomes in mind when it comes to birthing your baby. Daydream about the kind of birth you want for you and your baby. Practising positive affirmations feature heavily in hypnobirthing courses, as do some rather clever relaxation and breathing techniques. But if you really want to boss your baby’s birth there is one thing you need more than anything else. KNOWLEDGE. We’ve heard it said a million times in many different scenarios and contexts; Knowledge is power! Also, and I know I am a bit of a birth nut, but birth really is absolutely fascinating!
Learn how your birthing body works. Your Pelvis and sacrum (back of pelvis) are so clever! There are certainly optimum positions a birthing mother can get into during labour to enable the pelvis to open fully to gift your baby an easy descent. Your cervix is so clever! The way the muscles pull up and open during dilation and so many factors that can influence the time it takes for the cervix to fully dilate. Your birthing hormones are oh so crazy clever! So many ways to get those birthing hormones flowing (including nipple twiddling I’ll have you know!). Understand some of the many reasons why it may be taking a little bit longer for your cervix to dilate. Learn some clever techniques to ignore medical chat that can be lacking in tactfulness. Use the knowledge you have to change things up and make informed decisions that are right for you and your baby. I absolutely love this quote from Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer, authors of ‘A Good Birth, A Safe Birth’:
“If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any”Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer
This may sound a little extreme but if you are properly informed and using your hypnobirthing techniques, an emergency caesarean doesn’t have to feel like an emergency. As assisted delivery doesn’t have to feel fraught and panicked. Complications and challenges are more likely to arise during labour if the mother is feeling scared in any way. I think a lot of fear comes from the not knowing. Emerging from your birth feeling positive and empowered can seriously reduce the risk of developing postnatal depression. Confront what it is you’re afraid of. Is it the pain? I’m not going to tell you that labour and birth isn’t painful because pain is subjective. But I can tell you that hypnobirthing will teach you to think about pain in a completely different way. A positive way. The basis of hypnobirthing is the mind and body connection. Please read about the ‘Fear-Tension-Pain Syndrome’ In Dr Grantly Dick-Read’s book ‘Childbirth Without Fear’. In fact, read the whole thing if you have time. Put it on your reading list for your maternity leave.
Just to touch on my personal experience slightly here. During the birth of my first baby I “left” the hustle and bustle of the room (pre-eclampsia and an incompetent cervix – yes thanks for that one!) and I went to my baby. As I am typing this I am right back in that moment, my breathing has slowed and of course I feel completely emotional (happy tears). We were together and my baby was telling me to breathe slowly and to trust her. I was telling her that I loved her and that everything would be ok. Now I understand that for some people that sounds maybe strangely spiritual, but it was my personal experience and it got me through my daughter’s challenging birth. In what was an emergency, I remained relaxed, my breathing remained controlled and I felt deeply connected to my daughter. She was born star gazing (persistent occiput posterior or back to back) with her own tiny precious hand print on her face (nuchal hand/compound presentation/superman baby which occurs in around only 1 in 1000 births) and very healthy and beautiful.
Trust your baby. Trust the process. Your baby isn’t afraid of being born and it is quite a journey for them too you know?! But your baby is so wise, so pure and uninfluenced. A baby hasn’t had years of being conditioned to believe that birth is terrifyingly painful and something to be feared. Your baby will be born in the way that is right for her or him. Practice some amazing breathing techniques, slow that breathing right down for your baby, learn how to stay loose and open for your baby, feel warm, safe, supported and unobserved. And dare I say it? ENJOY the day your precious baby is born.
Positive birth IS possible!
Every woman should be able to look back on the birth of their baby with joy, love and happiness. But more than that. Fearless birth is absolutely possible, empowering birth is absolutely possible. Whether you breathe your baby out, roar your baby out or your baby is guided or lifted out.
Sending positive birthing vibes to all of you amazing mamas!