There’s plenty of pain management options for labour—but hypnobirthing is one of the most popular. How does it work?
Midwife Teresa Walsh explains that hynobirthing is actually just a contemporised version of age-old breathing and relaxation methods; its effectiveness documented cross-culturally: “These techniques can help you feel calm and relaxed during labour, and more confident during the birthing process,” says Teresa.
The Hypnobirthing technique is based on treating anxiety and fear associated with the birthing process, because these feelings trigger stress hormones, which in turn blocks the body’s natural pain-relieving hormones. Essentially, the purpose of hypnobirthing is to facilitate a mind-shift for labour.
Says Teresa: “Expectant mothers who choose to learn some of these techniques may find the whole experience of labour and birth calmer and more relaxed, and they may feel more in control throughout. Some studies have also shown that hypnobirthing can shorten labour and even improve the health outcomes for you and your baby. Birthing partners also learn how to be effective supporters during the labour, thus helping them to feel more involved in their baby’s birth.”
Teresa also mentions that hypnobirthing can be ‘customised’; enhanced to cater to most pregnant women. However, hypnobirthing is considered most suitable for those mums-to-be who wish to avoid medical intervention. Hypnobirthing can also be an especially helpful addition to water births. Second-time expectant mothers whose initial experience of birth was traumatic can also find hypnobirthing a positive tool for instilling confidence in the body’s capabilities.
“To prepare yourself, you can attend hypnobirthing classes from around 30 weeks gestation so you can learn the techniques and use them comfortably before the big day,” advises Teresa. “There are many hypnobirthing techniques, and instructors vary in experience, so I would recommend you research the different options available to find an instructor that works for you.”
And the benefits of hypnobirthing are said to extend postnatally—with the relaxation skills transferable into other spheres (especially handy for parenthood!).