One of the biggest misconceptions about hypnobirthing is that, it's all about having babies. Women have heard that if you do everything your teacher tells you to do, you will have a quick, straight forward, pain free, vaginal birth. Now, there's no easy way to say this...but that's all pretty much a nonsense.
As a hypnobirthing Mum of two and a practitioner, I have fantastic things to say about hypnobirthing every single day. But to suggest that it has the same effect, as a sprinkling fairy dust over every pregnant or birthing woman; who is blessed enough to have discovered it, does everyone involved, a massive disservice. So, if it's not about magic wands and easy births what's the point??
Hypnobirthing is just as much about the preparation that takes place during pregnancy. The practice both Mum and Dad undertake during the lead up to labour, not only prepares Mum to navigate the journey of birth, but also draws Dad back into the process; so once again 'making baby' becomes very much a team effort, as with conception. By taking 2.5 hours out every week, to come to class and then working on their homework together, this really allows Mum and Dad to be on the same page. It provides Dad with specific tools to help him engage with Mum and Baby and the nurturing of the child they made together, which can make hypnobirthing an infinitely more bonding experience. This is of course is equally relevant and perhaps even more so, with same sex couples.
2. Pregnancy Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the buzz word for 2014, but anyone involved in hypnobirthing, will have been talking about this - in many other guises for years. Hypnobirthing creates a space for Mum to really connect with the fact that that she's having a baby; now whilst I appreciate that this might sound odd, how many pregnant women do you know who have rushed around like Super Woman, until a week before their baby arrives? So many! The exercises and practice encouraged during this type of birth preparation, are about slowing things down both physically and emotionally, so that Mums can tune into what's going on with their bodies. When you are rushing around at 100 miles an hour, multi-tasking to within an inch of your life, what possibility is there of achieving that....? And it's this skill that is the most important tool, to have at your disposal, when you go into labour.
By teaching couples about the physiology of the body and explaining why some women do experience painful labours, we help a woman to feel more relaxed during her pregnancy. It's almost like a light bulb goes off, when the science starts to make sense, the shoulders come down and you can physically see the confidence in our mothers, starting to grow. It means that Mum is able to approach her labour with a belief in both her body and her baby, because of the knowledge that we were designed to do this job and barring any special circumstances, that she is going to be able to do it and doesn't need to be the excruciatingly painful experience, that in the past she has been led to believe is a given.
We know that baby's are affected by the emotional environment of the Mother, so this calm and relaxed attitude towards labour and birth, most certainly impacts baby positively; as they are not being flooded with the negative hormones that accompany the mother's fear and anxiety. This also works to help our couples to manage the inevitable concerns that arise with becoming a parent for the first time, or working out how to go from being a parent of one to two, or maybe even three!
4) Life Skills
As a prerequisite for being able to call upon hypnobirthing tools during labour our Mum's need to practice the tools learnt during class in real life; not just in bed at the end of a busy day. This is because whilst we, ideally, want our mums to be a haven of peace and tranquility during labour, often the birthing environment can be anything but. With doctors and midwives walking in and out of rooms if birthing in hospital; inconvenient traffic noise at home or navigating taxis and people if traveling to birth centres, the list of distractions is endless. Therefore, knowing that you have developed the amazing ability to relax both your body and mind in just a few seconds, whether it is in the middle of a stressful scene at work; blocking out the noise from the infuriating loud woman talking on her mobile on the bus, or as with a recent client, managing the pain of fractured arm . Adds a critical dimension to a mother's ability to be able to call upon what have become skills for life during her labour and birth.
And so now, to finally address the elephant in the room, what about the birthing?
5) Solid Foundations
So, whilst I opened the post clearly stating that it was nonsense to expect hypnobirthing to guarantee quick and pain free labours; there is, in fact, something it can guarantee. If the Mums complete their practice, hypnobirthing will immeasurably enhance their labouring experience, whatever paths their births ultimately take. Whilst it is definitely true, that hypnobirthing does put women in the best possible position to achieve, quick, calm, and fear free births, as many women will testify; a positive experience will not always mean an easy one. However, if a woman is able to draw upon skills that enable her to stay calm and relaxed during her labour, she will also stay in control and it is that element of personal control, during her most powerful and simultaneously vulnerable time, that will determine her ability to look back on her a birth positively or not...Regardless of how her baby is finally born; which in turn, will only be a part of her entire hypnobirthing experience.
So now you know the truth, I hope you see that, the time and space created for hypnobirthing women and their partners, is about much more than just birthing babies. So much so, that even if a woman was opting for an elective c-section, I believe that hypnobirthing should still be at the top of her 'Preparing for Motherhood' list.