What is Hypnobirthing?

Jun 23, 2022

Giving birth can be one of the most powerful moments in a mother’s life. 

Many expectant mothers, though, feel anxiety when they think about giving birth. Some women are anxious about what their bodies will go through during labor. Some worry about their ability to bond with their baby after meeting them for the first time. 

Hypnobirthing is a way for women to ease fears and feel more confident about childbirth. It’s also used to provide natural pain relief during labor and delivery. Hypnobirthing can help women who want an unmedicated birth as well as those who want more pain management. 

In this article we’ll cover questions, benefits, and common concerns about hypnobirthing.

What is Hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing is a relaxation method that helps a mother relieve stress and anxiety as she prepares for childbirth. It promotes mindfulness and natural calming techniques. These techniques foster a closer connection between mother and baby. 

Through labor and delivery, hypnobirthing empowers women to embrace their instincts. It also helps women trust their and their baby’s innate ability to navigate labor and birth. This confidence helps women look forward to their birth experience. In turn, a calm and empowering birth sets the stage for mother and baby to bond with each other organically.

How does hypnobirthing work?

Hypnobirthing relies on the nervous system’s built-in mechanisms for stress regulation. When you feel stressed or anxious, your body is in “fight of flight.” This means that your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is activated. 

When you feel relaxed and calm, your body is in “rest and digest” mode. This means that your parasympathetic nervous system (PSN) is in charge. 

Hypnobirthing techniques like breathing exercises and visualizations decrease your “fight or flight” response. They also engage the “rest and digest” response. In turn, the “rest and digest” response provides physical benefits. Some of these benefits include lowering blood pressure and heart rate and bringing a grounded sense of calm and safety.

What are hypnobirthing methods?

Breathing

Hypnobirthing breathing techniques draw from meditative breathing practices. One breathing technique prompts you to inhale for four beats and exhale for seven beats. When your exhale is longer than your inhale, you stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system. This decreases stress hormones, puts your body in “rest and digest” mode, and helps you feel safe and in charge. 

Hypnobirthing also teaches you to breathe into your diaphragm and through your nose. Breathing into your diaphragm increases the amount of oxygen in your lungs. Breathing through your nose filters out dust and allergens. It also humidifies the air and improves oxygen circulation

Affirmations

Affirmations are statements that challenge negative beliefs and replace them with positive truths. Birth affirmations empower women to feel strong and confident during labor and delivery. 

Some examples of positive birth affirmations include:

  • I trust my instincts
  • I am proud of myself
  • My body and my baby know what to do
  • My contractions bring me closer to my baby
  • I am loved and my baby is loved
  • I can ask for what I need

As you repeat these affirmations, your brain becomes more comfortable with these messages. 

You can also prepare for unexpected situations, like C-sections or early labor. Affirmations for these situations might include “every type of birth is sacred” and “I did enough.” 

There are many affirmations that you can adapt to meet your needs. What’s most important is that the affirmations resonate with and mean something to you.

Imagery

Imagery and visualizations are similar to affirmations. They also train your brain to associate birth with positive thoughts and feelings. Unlike affirmations, however, imagery uses concrete pictures instead of ideas or concepts. 

Some examples of hypnobirthing imagery are:

  • Imagining contractions as surges or ocean waves
  • Visualizing your body softening and opening during labor
  • Imagining your body being filled with light or bathed in a comforting smell

Imagining these pictures helps reduce tension and create peace and calm. 

Who invented hypnobirthing?

Marie Morgan

Hypnobirthing was first invented by Marie Morgan, a hypnotherapist and educator. She helped women have less painful births using their natural intuition. During her first pregnancy, she read Childbirth Without Fear by Grantly Dick-Read, a British physician. He observed that women who were not afraid of childbirth had much easier deliveries.

Morgan looked forward to delivering her first child. When the day came, she asked to receive no medication during delivery, but was restrained and given Ether. The same thing happened during her second delivery. 

Before her third delivery, she insisted on having an unmedicated childbirth. She told her doctor that if they wouldn’t allow her an unmedicated delivery, she would find someone else. She was able to then deliver her third and later fourth babies without medication. She described it as “the most beautiful birth I could imagine.”

These experiences led her to create hypnobirthing. She also advocated for more autonomy for women during childbirth.

Is Hypnobirthing safe?

Hypnobirthing is a safe pain management tool that can work alone or with medication. Hypnobirthing is completely natural. It relies exclusively on a mother’s internal resources to help her through stress or pain. 

Some women use hypnobirthing as an alternative to receiving pain medication during childbirth. They may want to avoid negative effects from medications. They also may want to feel the accomplishment of experiencing a natural birth. Hypnobirthing may help women feel prepared as they approach an unmedicated delivery.

Other women are interested in using hypnobirthing with pain medication, a scheduled induction, or a C-section. Likewise, hypnobirthing can always be adapted as labor and delivery come closer. It doesn’t prevent using any needed interventions.

What are common hypnobirthing myths?

There are some common misconceptions about hypnobirthing. Here are a few of the most common myths, and what you can expect instead. 

Myth #1: Hypnobirthing puts you to sleep

Hypnobirthing comes from the word “hypnosis.” Sometimes the word “hypnosis” refers to a state of altered consciousness, but not always. Hypnosis can also refer to the power of suggestion and the connection our mind has over our body. 

Hypnobirthing allows a mother to stay present and alert while coaching her body through labor.

Reality: Hypnobirthing gives you complete control over your mind and body during childbirth. 

Myth #2: Hypnobirthing is only used for home births

Many women who want a home birth rely on hypnobirthing. However, hypnobirthing works in any setting. In fact, most women who use hypnobirthing give birth in a hospital

Reality: Hypnobirthing works at home, in the hospital, or in any birth setting.

Myth #3: Hypnobirthing is only used for unmedicated births

Some women use hypnobirthing as an alternative to having an epidural. Other women use hypnobirthing with other pain management. 

Reality: Hypnobirthing works with or without an epidural or other pain medication.

Myth #4: Hypnobirthing guarantees a “natural” birth

All births are natural! Childbirth is natural whether it happens by C-section, vaginally, or with medication. 

Hypnobirthing may help a woman achieve a vaginal or unmedicated delivery. Emergencies can happen to anyone though. Sometimes even the best made plans have to change.

Reality: Hypnobirthing does not guarantee an unmedicated or vaginal delivery.

Myth #5: Hypnobirthing guarantees a pain free birth

Hypnobirthing can ease pain during labor and delivery. Still, women may experience pain during labor and deliver. Every childbirth is different and some will be more challenging than others.

Reality: Each woman is different and some will have more or less discomfort than others.

Can hypnobirthing help with a C-section?

Women who have cesarean sections can benefit from hypnobirthing. No matter how a woman gives birth, her comfort matters. Every mother deserves to remember the day she gave birth with joy. 

Hypnobirthing during a c-section can help mothers feel more calm, relaxed and confident.  This helps as they bond with and begin caring for their baby.

Can my partner help with hypnobirthing?

An invested and educated partner is an incredible resource during pregnancy and the birthing process. 

During pregnancy

Partners can learn hypnobirthing techniques alongside expectant mothers. This joint effort can provide companionship and shared excitement for both partners. Partners can also provide encouragement to practice techniques during pregnancy. 

During labor and delivery

Partners can help to create an ideal environment for labor and delivery. This might include dimming lights and preparing songs or meditative soundtracks. They can also provide comfort through massages, hydration, or communication with others. 

A partner can also support a mother in labor with prompts. They can remind her of hypnobirthing techniques like breathing, affirmations, or visualizations. 

Hypnobirthing helps partners stay involved and have a more meaningful experience.

When should I start hypnobirthing?

The ideal timeframe to start a hypnobirthing course is between 22 and 32 weeks of pregnancy. This is close enough to birth that it may be easier to practice consistently until your baby arrives. Many women also have increased energy during their second trimester. 

After 20 weeks, the sooner you start hypnobirthing, the better. Starting earlier will give you more time to practice and prepare for the day you get to meet your baby.

After 32 weeks, you may want to enroll in a self-paced home course. This will let you complete the course in a shorter period of time.

The Takeaway

Hypnobirthing is a safe and natural tool for expectant mothers. It can help mothers feel confident and excited for the delivery of their baby. It can also ease pain during labor and delivery. 

Hypnobirthing can be adapted to your needs. You can plan on hypnobirthing at home, at a birth center, or in the hospital. You can also plan on an unmedicated delivery or using an epidural. 

You can look here to find more information about how to start hypnobirthing.

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