If you are pregnant, you have likely been thinking about your upcoming birth quite a lot, with varying degrees of worry and excitement. Throughout your pregnancy, you might have heard mentions about Hypnobirthing, and possibly decided that it's too hippy-dippy and not for you, but if you are reading this you are probably intrigued.
For anyone new to Hypnobirthing the first thing that you need to know is that it is not about hypnosis! Honestly, I think it needs a rebrand because the name puts a lot of people off. Personally, I completed The Positive Birth Company's online course so my experience of Hypnobirthing comes from this, and The Positive Birth Company describe Hypnobirthing as...
"an evidence-based approach to birth that seeks to empower women and birthing people with knowledge, practical tools and support, enabling them to have a positive birth experience, however they choose to bring their baby into the world."
From my experience this is pretty accurate, it teaches tools for pain management such as deep breathing, relaxation, and visualisation. It also teaches a lot of the science behind labour and birth which can help to reduce anxiety and fear.
From my personal experience, I found it useful to prepare myself and my partner and to breathe through contractions as much as possible, but I didn't really use any of the other tools they discuss. What a lot of women dread is that they may be totally out of control and in so much pain during birth and I felt that learning more about labour and birth and building a whole toolkit of coping mechanisms armed me and my partner with a lot more knowledge, which in turn handed me back a bit of that control. I found this especially useful for my partner, he told me he was glad he did the classes with me because it made everything a lot less scary for him because he understood what was going on. It also teaches you to make informed decisions and how to advocate as a birth partner.
With that said I don't think Hypnobirthing is for everyone. If you are the kind of person who would rather go into birth oblivious and hand all responsibility and decision-making to the doctors, which is a very valid way to be, then this would not be right for you. However for my personality type that would have been quite scary.
An example of how I used the informed decision making during my own birth is that I was offered a drip to speed things up at multiple points which I declined. Although it was a very slow labour I intuitively knew that my baby and my body were doing just fine and I had that confidence. It also gave me the tools to make an informed decision when it came down to deciding whether I should get in the birthing pool or do the opposite and have an epidural. I also tuned into staying as calm and relaxed as possible, staying in the zone, and was ultimately able to labour for a very long time unmedicated.
Now a few points from my course which I wasn't so fond of:
- It is mentioned that pain is not a part of birth and that if you feel pain that will be your body telling you something is wrong. I think that in itself can give you cause for concern, I'm sure there are people who were so relaxed and in a zone that they didn't find labour and birth painful, but I am personally yet to come across one.
- Secondly, and this is a point that my midwife bought up too, is the idea that you do not need to push you can just breathe your baby out. Apparently, this is possible for subsequent children but pretty unlikely for your first. Your body pushes by itself quite a lot but there is that last little bend that you'll need to give a helping push for. Interestingly the founder of The Positive Birth Company mentions that she didn't use Hypnobirthing for her first child, so I wonder if that's why she thinks that you can breathe them all out.
- My third point could equally be seen as a pro and a con; the course is super empowering to tune into your own intuition and decision making but I think sometimes it is overly exaggerating your power to say 'no' and this may influence some to say no when they should in fact listen to their doctor.
If you are in the UAE, whether you go down the Hypnobirthing route or not, you are very likely to be able to choose your own ObGyn doctor, so make sure that you have found a great doctor who you are comfortable with, who will respect your birth wishes without unnecessary intervention and fits your personality type.
For more discussions like this tune into Next of Kin: Parents Podcast