Contrary to popular belief, hypnobirthing is really not the airy-fairy practice that many people think it is (I probably used to be one of these people)! Granted, the word ‘hypno’ likely does conjure up some images that perhaps lead to it having this unfortunate association. If it brings to mind swinging pendulums, being sent to sleep and doing something you wouldn’t want to do, then you can be forgiven. Stage hypnosis is the only experience a lot of people might have when making a judgement on the word ‘hypno’. The reality is actually very different.
Hypnotherapy put (very) simply is positive words, used in a focused way to reframe old beliefs. These could be beliefs we have had since we were small, or we may have learnt them later in life through the many experiences we’ve had.
You may be wondering how using positive words actually helps to change anything? Good question. This is where hypnosis comes in. Hypnosis is a system used in hypnotherapy to help let go of fears, anxieties and negative beliefs, reframing them into something more positive. This is a system that uses a high state of relaxation to bypass the conscious ‘critical’ mind, allowing suggestions to be made to the more powerful subconscious mind. We all actually experience states of hypnosis everyday – when we are just falling asleep, or beginning to wake. Have you ever driven somewhere and then not even remembered the drive, perhaps wondering if you even stopped at the last red traffic light? This is another example of a hypnotic state. Your conscious mind doesn’t need to think about driving a route that is so familiar to you, it has switched off and you are in a state of self hypnosis (or highway hypnosis as this specific example is sometimes known!).
Everything we do in our lives is dictated by the information we have stored in the subconscious mind, it is what drives the conscious actions we take.
The way we initially feel about birth, whether positive or negative will also be directed by what is stored in the subconscious mind. It will be a result of all the information that this part of the mind has been squirrelling away for years without us even realising. It really comes to light once we are expecting a baby and due to experience birth for ourselves. The way we feel as a result isn’t our fault, but knowing we have the power to help make positive changes and reframe some of these views is key.
I know that my view of birth growing up was always that it is painful and a scary experience. All I ever really heard from anyone else were negative stories, and everyone always seems so keen to share them! Not that I am taking away from the experience of these women at all, as it isn’t nice for anyone who doesn’t get to experience a positive birth. Couple this with the way we see birth on the TV, where there is always screaming and pain, what hope do we have of naturally having positive feelings about it all!?
For me personally, I then suffered the loss of our baby, Sophia, and a further miscarriage after that. These difficult personal experiences topped up and reconfirmed what my subconscious had already been telling me. Pregnancy and birth was awful, it was scary and it was painful.
By using hypnotherapy and hypnosis techniques during pregnancy you can start to challenge and re-programme some of these beliefs stored in the subconscious mind, to create a more positive, calm and relaxed experience. Combine this with lessons on anatomy and physiology to explain how the body is designed to work comfortably in labour, and you have hypnobirthing in a nutshell.
If you have had a previous experience with pregnancy and/or birth that wasn’t positive, whether that was a traumatic labour, a pregnancy loss or fertility struggles you might be wondering whether hypnobirthing can really help you. The answer is definitely yes! Hypnobirthing works differently for everybody, but it really does help. It doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to have the perfect birth with no pain relief, as no one can guarantee you that. Hypnobirthing is more about achieving the best possible experience for you and your baby, whatever shape that may take. It will give you tools to help change acquired negative feelings around birth, whilst helping you to learn to relax. In some hypnobirthing courses (mine included), you will also learn how to navigate the maternity system, the options available to you, your rights and the benefits/risks of different pathways. The benefit of this means you feel more confident to make informed choices, which can also contribute to having a better experience. I always love to hear people’s thoughts, own experiences and questions, so please do drop me a message if you’d like to. If you’d like to see a little bit more about my courses then please click here.