As your pregnancy progresses and you start to focus on the birth, you may fantasise about having a natural labour, without the need for medical intervention and/or pain relief. Could hypnobirthing, where you self-hypnotise, help you achieve your dream?
What is it?
The philosophy is based on the premise that women who can relax and let go of fear find it easier to manage their pain during labour and delivery. There’s no mystique: hypnobirthing techniques don’t send you into a deep trance or turn off your pain sensors. What this method can teach you is how to manage the pain and – if you’re lucky – achieve a drug-free birth.
Does it work?
Extensive research shows that women who use self-hypnosis tend to have shorter labours, feel less anxious and are also less likely to need pain relief or obstetric procedures. Of course, it doesn’t work for everyone, and there’s no guarantee that your attempt to have a calm, easier, controlled birth won’t end up as an emergency caesarean.
There are books, CDs and DVDs on hypnobirthing, but it’s best to do a course, either in a group or with one-to-one tuition, during which you’ll be taught self-hypnosis, relaxation, visualisation and breathing techniques. The tutor will also explain the physiology of childbirth, so that you’ll understand how it works and know when and how to push when the time comes.
After practising these techniques at home for months, they should become second nature, so you’ll be skilled at relaxing, concentrating and tuning out distractions, while still remaining in control and fully aware of how to manage the pain.
Not for commitment phobes
If you decide to try hypnobirthing, you’ll need to be dedicated to the cause: it’s no quick-fix cure for labour pain. In order to derive maximum benefits, start practising the relaxation techniques any time from mid pregnancy onwards.
A supportive birth partner is an important part of the process, both for helping you to internalise the techniques and keeping you focused on your baby’s birth day.
Now tell us what worked for you…
Did you try hypnobirthing during your labour? How effective did you find it?