What is hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing is a method of pain management that can be used during labour and birth. It involves using a mixture of visualisation, relaxation and deep breathing techniques.
Breathing exercises have long been part of antenatal classes. Hypnobirthing takes this and adds relaxation, visualisation and mindfulness techniques to help you concentrate on your body and the birth of your baby.
Hypnobirthing can be used with all other types of pain relief and be added to your birth plan.
What are the methods and techniques used in hypnobirthing?
Breathing deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth, can help you stay calm and reduce discomfort in labour.
Visualisation is where you imagine the birth of your baby and what you want to happen. It can be something really specific or more general, like a feeling you want to have. For example, you could picture what it will feel like to hold your baby skin to skin after they’ve been born. It’s like a rehearsal in your mind to help you feel more prepared and positive.
Does hypnobirthing work?
- Hypnobirthing can help you manage stress hormones, such as adrenalin, and reduce anxiety, which should lead to a calmer birth. During labour, your body produces a chemical called oxytocin, which helps progress your labour. Stress hormones affect the production of oxytocin, and make your labour longer..
- Managing stress may also help to reduce some of the fear and pain experienced during labour.
- In some cases, hypnobirthing has been shown to make labour shorter.
- Practising hypnobirthing – whether it’s at a class, with a book or mp3 – may help you to feel more prepared and in control when labour starts.
- It may help you cope with anxieties if you had a previous traumatic birth experience.
- Hypnobirthing may reduce the need for drugs and medical intervention. However, you can have additional pain relief as well if you want to.
- It can be added to any birth plan and the techniques can be used wherever you give birth – in a hospital or birth centre, or at home.
- Hypnobirthing may benefit you after birth too, with some evidence showing that it can lower the chance of postnatal depression.
- Hypnobirthing can help your birth partner play a more active role during labour.
Are there disadvantages to hypnobirthing?
Practising hypnobirthing does not mean unexpected things won’t happen. A birth free from medical interventions or complications can never be guaranteed. However, learning to relax and stay calm may help you feel more in control during labour if things don’t go to plan.