02/04/2010 10:40 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

H: What Is Hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing is a complementary therapy that is used to help women cope with the physical pain of both labour and childbirth through self-hypnosis.

Rather than enter into a deep state of trance-like hypnosis, hynobirthing is a mindset that allows the woman to remain relaxed and in control of her labour and, as a result, the pain from contractions.

This is achieved through specific breathing exercises and patterns, and relaxation techniques. It is acknowledged to encourage a quicker and calmer birth, less reliance on chemical pain relief, and a reduced likelihood of assisted birth with forceps, ventouse or caesarean section.

This also results in the added benefit of an alert newborn (due to the absence of chemical pain relief in the mother's bloodstream) and quicker post natal recovery times.

A woman who wishes to use hypnobirthing will attend classes during her pregnancy, with the objective of learning the self hypnosis, breathing and relaxation techniques well before her estimated due date. This is to prepare her both mentally and physically for labour and birth.

Additionally, classes also focus on eliminating the fear that most women feel in anticipation of labour and birth, and instead will help the woman to translate this fear into confidence and capability.

Hypnobirthing courses are available across the UK, although they have limited availability on the NHS.

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