When preparing for the journey of birth and parenthood, you have a lot of things going through your mind.
First things first, getting the baby out. Of course, there’s so much that goes into “getting the baby out”. Birth is unpredictable, and can be intense, and often painful. One of the most common thoughts racing through someone’s head before birth is if, and how they are going to handle the intensity.
Luckily, there is a myriad of resources and tools that can help support birthing people through their journey. Tools that help to soothe them through the surges or contractions, help them come back to themselves when navigating the birth portal, and of course – help manage pain or intensity.
But those aren’t your only options. There are plenty of more “natural”, or non-pharmaceutical tools that can be used on their own, or in conjunction with said pharmacological medications.
One of these tools is called “hypnobirthing”. You may have heard of it.
What is Hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing is an established and proven method founded in 1840 by Scottish surgeon and philosopher, James Braid.
Hypnobirthing aims to instill birthing people with the confidence to trust their body, and the intent to birth safely, calmly, and gently.
The hypnobirthing philosophy is based on the belief that ideas around modern birth have created so much fear and anxiety for birthing people, that it interferes with the birth process. According to hypnobirthing practitioners, this fear breeds tension in the body, which keeps the body from being able to let the natural process of birth take its course. They believe this is one of the many underlying reasons for unnecessary interventions, and long and painful births.
Hypnobirthing is essentially self hypnosis techniques that promote relaxation, and allow the birthing person to turn inwards, becoming more present with themselves. When using hypnosis during birth, the person is fully alert and aware. Hypnobirthing professionals also claim that practicing these techniques promotes the release of endorphins, creating more “feel good” feelings, and hopefully lessening “negative hormones”, like cortisol.
When someone chooses to enter this state of self hypnosis, they are then more susceptible to suggestions. These suggestions can come from any birthing support person they have present. Much of the time, these suggestions have to do with using language to change how they perceive the intensity that’s happening in their body.
For instance, saying “waves” or “surges”, can feel more fluid and spacious than the word “contractions”. People tend to associate the word contractions with intense pain. Hypnobirthers believe that changing the word, allows people to experience the sensation with more ease.
People will typically take hypnobirthing classes to learn and practice the techniques during pregnancy. When in labour, they can use these techniques and pre-recorded meditations and affirmations, for guidance.
Other people may choose to have a hypnotherapist or doula who is certified in hypnotherapy to help guide them during their birth.
Who is Hypnobirthing For?
Hypnobirthing is for anyone who is having a baby. While people typically associate it with “natural childbirth”, these tools can be used no matter how you plan to birth, or what turns your labor takes.
This incredible tool can be used whether you undergo a labor induction, have an epidural, or even a Cesarean section. Whether these birth interventions are planned or not, having hypnobirthing techniques to turn to help you prepare for any outcome, help to release fear around birth, and may even help with postpartum recovery!
Hypnobirthing methods are also encouraged prenatally as a way to connect with your baby, and prepare for the journey ahead.
Where Can Hypnobirthing be Used?
Anywhere people birth, they can use the hypnobirthing technique. In the hospital, at home, at birth centers, in the car… you name it!
The Bottom Line
What tools you choose to navigate labor with are totally up to you. There have been quite a few studies done on hypnobirthing and its effectiveness, however many of these studies have limitations, and may not be representative of a larger population.
That being said, there are countless women and gestational parents who will happily give personal testimonials to back up the claims made by hypnobirthing organizations. It’s not just the birthing people, medical providers and doulas often encourage these techniques as well.
Pregnancy and birth can be incredibly intuitive processes, if you feel called to try hypnosis for your birth, then that’s all the encouragement you need. The risks are virtually non-existent, and if you decide that during labor the method isn’t work for you – you don’t need to do it. Plain and simple.
Your body. Your birth. Your choice.
Natasha (she/they) is a full spectrum doula, reproductive health content creator, and sexual wellness consultant. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more pleasure, softness, and sensuality. You can connect with Natasha on IG @spectrumoflovedoula.