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What is Hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing is a set of practical coping tools and techniques, used to support a deep state of relaxation, and when you understand the science behind birth, you can see why that's so important! The word Hypno- gives the misconception that there'll be swinging pendulums and hypnotism, and that hypnobirthing is a bit 'out there, but what surprises most people, especially dubious birth partners, is that it's really logical, and actually makes a lot of sense! There is research to support that Hypnobirthing can make labour shorter, and more comfortable, as well as increasing the likelihood of a more positive birthing experience. 

So how does Hypnobirthing work?

As mammals we have a survival instinct which kicks in when our brain perceives a threat to our safety by triggering the fight-or-flight response within our body. It is a natural and physiological reaction that has evolved to help us to respond to potential dangers.

When this is triggered there are number of things that happen:

  • rapid breathing and an increased heart rate- oxygenated blood is diverted to our arms and legs getting them ready to either stay and fight, or to run away

  • release of the stress hormone- Adrenaline

  • muscle tension- preparing the body for physical action

It's likely that you've experienced this before, if you have a fear of something, common ones being snakes, spider, or heights, or possibly when watching a scary film, or if a sudden loud noise has made you jump.

So how does this impact birth, if the fight or flight response is triggered?

  • blood is diverted away from the muscles in the Uterus, making contractions less effective, which could make labour longer

  • Adrenaline suppresses the production of Oxytocin- the birthing hormone that stimulates contractions and facilitates labour- so it again could make labour longer

  • during contractions the Uterine muscles are working to move and make space for the baby, moving tense muscles as opposed to relaxed muscles could cause more discomfort


So the 'fight-or-flight' response is triggered by our brain, and it is something we cannot consciously control. I am sure you have been in other situations where you have experienced this mind-body connection before?...... When I blush, it doesn't matter what I say to myself, I have no control over how red my cheeks are going to go! Or when watching a scary film, I know it's just a film and not real, but my heart will be racing, and I'll be able to feel the adrenaline pumping around my body! It is the same with birth, but this connection is even stronger. So telling yourself to relax, just isn't going to work. And what's even more unhelpful if your birth partner telling you to relax! Our body can either be in the fight-or-flight response, or the calm-relaxation response, it can't be in both at the same time. If we are relaxed it means that we are working with the muscles of the Uterus, and not against them, allowing them to work effectively, as well as supporting our bodies natural production of the hormones needed for birth, such as Oxytocin.

what is a hypnobirth?

The hypnobirthing that I teach is not for one 'type' of birth so I personally do not use the term 'hypnobirth'. ALL types of birth can be a positive and beautiful experience, and on my course the toolbox of practical coping techniques that are grounded within hypnotherapy can be used in ALL types of birth. These hypnobirthing tools can use to achieve a deep state of relaxation, to help you to get into the 'zone' that is optimal for both your birthing muscles and hormones, but they can also be used to bring calm to any situation in birth. If you are being induced you will still want to be working with the synthetic oxytocin that the hospital administer via a drip, and again with your muscles. I like to call the zone, your 'Oxytocin Bubble'. This means that things within your environment, such as a machine beeping, midwives monitoring you, examinations, may be less likely to trigger that 'fight-or-flight' response. These tools and techniques can be used anywhere, whether you are at home, in the bath, in the car travelling in to hospital, in the waiting room, or in the birthing pool, or on a birthing ball. They can also be used alongside other pain-relief, from TENs machines to medical pain relief options. They can also be used if you are having a Caesarean, you may use these coping techniques to support you emotionally whilst you are waiting, during the operation and birth of your baby, or with recovery afterwards. The hormone Oxytocin is not just an important hormone during a vaginal birth, it is also important for bonding with baby and breastfeeding, so if you are having a Caesarean birth you will still want to be creating your own 'Oxytocin Bubble'. The tools and techniques you learn within hypnobirthing will also give your birthing partner an active role, supporting you in birth in a way that could make birth more comfortable for you and being more than just a hand to squeeze. 

Advantages of Hypnobirthing

Here are the advantages of Hypnobirthing, reported by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT)-

  • It can help women feel more confident with themselves and their capacity to go through labour feeling in control, leading to a more positive birth experience.

  • Hypnobirthing reduces anxiety and reduces fears related to pregnancy and childbirth. This can lead to lower perceptions of pain during labour and a shorter labour.

  • It can promote positive mental health and self-confidence after birth.

  • NICE states that women who choose to use hypnosis during childbirth should be supported in doing so.

  • A review of the evidence suggested hypnosis might help to reduce the pain of labour and does not seem to have any adverse effects on outcomes.

Hypnobirthing Information Video
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