Congratulations! If you’re reading this I’m guessing you’re pregnant or the partner of someone who’s pregnant & you might be nervous or excited or simply terrified about birth.
Hypnobirthing is one of those things you may have heard about from a friend or read about online but you’re a bit put off by the name. Maybe you think it’s a bit of a weird thing to do or too expensive or only for hippies. Well read on & I’ll debunk a bunch of myths about hypnobirthing so you can make an informed choice about your antenatal education.
1. Hypnobirthing is like stage hypnosis or mind control
This first myth is really common, mainly because the term hypnobirthing is really the wrong word to describe what it is. Whenever you hear the word ‘hypno’ it makes you think of Derren Brown or stage hypnosis where people are made to walk about pretending to be chickens.
Well hypnobirthing couldn’t be further away from that if it tried. The first thing to know is that no one will hypnotise you when you do hypnobirthing, it’s actually much more like a state of mind that you create for yourself. I don’t really like the term ‘self hypnosis’ because it implies that you have to ‘do’ stuff to yourself, like wave something in front of your eyes or hum or something. Actually the hypnosis state we talk about in hypnobirthing is much more like a regular state of mind you find yourself drifting into on a day to day basis.
What? Really? I don’t go into a hypnotic state during the day, that’s not safe, I hear you cry.
Honestly, it’s true. What about when you’re daydreaming or driving the car on the M4 thinking of nothing at all but your body knows what it’s doing. That’s the state I’m talking about. It’s the same in labour, you want to promote a state of relaxation or daydreamy feelings so that your body can get on with doing what it knows how to do….have that baby! Another common misconception about this dream-like state is that you’ll get stuck in it & not be able to come back to reality once your baby has arrived. Let’s go back to the driving the car analogy. You’re driving along, kind of daydreamy but still aware that your foot is on the accelerator & your hands are moving the steering wheel……then someone cuts you up. You instantly flip back to reality, slam on the breaks & hurl a stream of obscenities at the idiot who nearly hit you. Birth is just like that. You’ve been labouring away nicely, in your lovely dreamy state & then your baby is there, you snap back into reality, thinking how astonishing that you just gave birth to a whole, miraculous little human! Amazing isn’t it.
2. Hypnobirthing only works if you're having a home birth
Nope! You can literally use your hypnobirthing tools wherever you decide to have your baby & in fact during the course you will learn all about your birth place options. We talk about the pros & cons of each setting & work out where you might feel most comfortable. The thing to keep reminding yourself is that there has never been a better time to have a baby. In fact, according to the Birth Place study published in 2011, the risk of adverse perinatal outcomes was only 0.43% wherever you decide to have your baby. That’s super low which is great & proves that all the nonsense you hear in the media about birth being inherently dangerous is utter nonsense.
When it comes to Hypnobirthing, you can as easily use your hypnobirthing tools on the labour ward as at home or wherever you feel most comfortable giving birth. I have supported women & birthing people to have their babies on the labour ward, in theatre, midwife led birth centres, at home & even in the hospital corridor before they even got to the labour suite. Hypnobirthing is great because it’s not a one size fits all thing, there’s lots of choice & once you’ve learned all the basics about birth, you can choose the tools which work best for you & use them wherever you are.
3. Hypnobirthing is a load of old hippy nonsense
Sadly as soon as you use the term ‘hypno’ it conjures up images of slightly crunchy midwives waving crystals & chanting om in a wheat field surrounded by nature. The name hypnobirthing is a victim of it’s own success really & associations with amazing but slightly more hippy birth workers often doesn’t do it as much justice as it deserves. Not that there’s anything wrong with these amazing birth workers & if crystals are your bag, that’s totally great & hypnobirthing will only compliment your experience.
However if the mention of your vagina opening like a flower makes you want to throw things I’m here to reassure you that first & foremost hypnobirthing is really robust antenatal education. This means that everything you learn will be evidence based & medically safe information designed to help you feel more informed & in control of your birth choices. The hypnosis tools you learn have also been studied in the field of neuroscience & there are numerous studies which suggest that hypnosis can reduce pain levels. That said, if you are like me & had two slightly hippy parents you might love a good bit of visualisation so the course can work for you just as well.
4. Hypnobirthing isn’t worth the money
This is probably the trickiest of all the myths to dispel because it’s so subjective. I spoke to one of my former hypnobirthing clients about this on an Instagram live recently & she simply said ‘she couldn’t afford not to do it’. She was coming from a position of being so scared about birth that she said to the midwife she wanted an elective caesarean birth. After the midwife listened to her concerns, she suggested she look into hypnobirthing & read the book ‘Why Hypnobirthing Matters’ (I highly recommend this book by the way). She went from being absolutely petrified about birth to feeling like she had more confidence & then contacted me to do a course. She said it was worth every penny because she got one on one time with her partner to really work out what she wanted from her birth experience. Learning the tools to do this meant they both went into their birth feeling confident about what to expect & how to manage as a team. She had the most amazing home water birth in her front room & was desperate to do it all over again. It can seem daunting to think of paying out upwards of £250 for something you might not be sure will work but let me break it down for you. You get 10 hours of teaching for that price which makes it £25 per hour, plus ongoing support from me on WhatsApp or text. You get a goody bag which is worth about £50 including your workbook & other support materials. You even get a birth debrief with me after you’ve had your baby.
Once you start thinking about the investment you are making in your birth experience & knowing that you feel confident working with your care providers, safe knowing how your body is really designed to do this & less scared about the what ifs.
Hypnobirthing should be available to everybody in my opinion & with that in mind I offer discounts, payment plans & even a shorter ‘birth blitz’ course if you can’t afford the full course. If that is still not an option for you, then there is a wealth of information online, you can check out my Instagram account for tips, info & even a free MP3 download so you can try before you buy. You’ll always get a better supported experience if you do a course with a teacher on hand to answer any specific questions which might come up & in my opinion well worth the investment.
5. Hypnobirthing isn’t antenatal education
Wrong, wrong, wrong. It is complete, robust antenatal education & can even be adapted to include cesarean birth, induction, breech birth & more. The foundation of the whole course is based on the anatomy of your body, how your hormones work, what happens when, how to write a birth plan, what happens after your baby arrives & even how to get the most out of maternity services. The course I teach is written by a qualified midwife so you’re likely to learn a bit more than some courses simply because the course materials are based on a really good understanding of midwifery care. The added bonus you get with hypnobirthing is that we don’t scare the crap out of you, remind you that birth is inherently safe, show you how your mind can get in the way & teach you how your body is simply amazing at giving birth to babies. We’ve been doing it for literally millennia & you are no different.
So go & do some research, talk to people who’ve used hypnobirthing, look up hypnobirthing births on YouTube & see what you think. I’ll post a few links you might like to look at in the comments. Talk to a hypnobirthing teacher, chances are they will have actually had babies using hypnobirthing techniques themselves. You can even book a free 30 minute chat with me & I can help you with any questions. Have you heard of any other hypnobirthing myths? Pop them in the comments if you have.