Years and years ago, way before we had even started to think about having children – I was always so incredibly petrified by the thought of giving birth, the unknown, the excruciating pain – you know, everything we thought we knew about childbirth from watching various blockbuster movies and T.V… Fast forward 10 years, and I am weeks away from giving birth, and I am actually feeling incredibly excited, elated, empowered, and most importantly, so calm. And much of this, is thanks to my recent Hypnobirthing course, which has completely transformed my current state, and frame of mind (and certainly my idea of childbirth!).
But what do we really know about Hypnobirthing? I thought I kind of knew what it was before I started, but fortunately for me, it was so much more powerful than I could ever imagine… To cut it short, a Hypnobirthing course gives you the knowledge and the tools to have a more gentle, calm and controlled labour (to the best of your ability) – and in turn managing to create a more empowered childbirth. Hypnobirthing is a complete antenatal course that is effective in reducing the fear of childbirth, allowing couples to actually look forward to the day they meet their baby (instead of focusing on the anticipated pain that comes with it). The course will also equip you with simple, but very specific self hypnosis, relaxation and breathing techniques – such as meditation scripts and audio, affirmations and so many other effective tips and tricks – uniquely giving you the knowledge to understand your options and empowers you to make confident choices around the birth of your child… Because in the end of the day, who else is than you is more knowledgable to make choices for you and your baby – than the person who has been carrying the precious one around for 40 weeks?
I was introduced to Jemma, the founder of Stilettos to Strollers – Hypnobirthing for Modern Mamas, via a mutual friend – and it was perfect timing, as I had already planned to start looking into local Hypnobirthing course options. What I liked straight away about Jemma’s ethos with Hypnobirthing (and her way of teaching), and something which she states on her website herself: “I am devoted to proving that practicing hypnobirthing and having an active birth does not make you a ‘hippy dippy’ but actually an educated and knowledgable woman…”. For me that sums this course up. And I was quite relieved to be honest, as my husband joined me on all our three 1-2-1 course sessions, and he was initially quite sceptical to the whole thing (thinking it would be a bit too ‘out there’ for him). Yet he was still so supportive, and we both ended up being really positively surprised after each session – as not only is there so much logic, research and proven success stories with Hypnobirthing; it does really leave you feeling incredibly calm, excited and relaxed about the whole process and what is to come.
So things to expect at a Hypnobirthing course would include, breathing exercises (practiced pre and during labour), deep relaxation tricks, visualisations and affirmations (ideally printed out and hung up around your house), working on releasing fear and building your confidence, massaging and stroking techniques for your partner to perform on you, how and why your partner will be your main protector and support pre and during labour, learning about why your body is designed to give birth with efficiency and comfort (not like those blockbuster horror scenes!), general knowledge and information about the whole labour process from start to finish (and teaching you about making your own informative decisions and birthing choices), understanding how the body and mind work in unison (and why it’s your most powerful tool) and simple practice regimes to support you at home – because as much as the course is wonderful and essential, it’s all about practice, practice, practice.
The key learnings for me from this course, is the power of your mind. That during labour, it’s down to all of your own previous practice; the meditations, relaxation techniques and positive visualisations – to help you really transport yourself into that state of mind during the surges (in Hypnobirthing, you use ‘surges’ instead of ‘contractions’ – ‘power’ instead of ‘pain’). It’s just a switch of a mindset; not looking at childbirth as something to dread or something which will give you pain – but rather, one step closer to meeting your baby! I am actually excited for the time when I do feel the surges coming on, as I know that it will be mere hours until I meet my little man, so naturally this is not something I want to dread or fear. I am expecting what is to come to be very intense, but it’s all for a meaningful purpose; it’s painful to break a leg, but not necessarily in the same way as it is to give birth to human being. Reminding myself that my body was designed to do this, and that women have been doing it for millions of years!
We have our Birthing Preferences ready for the midwife (Hypnobirthing uses ‘preferences’ not ‘plan’ – as your labour certainly doesn’t always go after plan) – and have all the essentials in place to create my birthing space into my own little sanctuary – with dimmed lights, my lavender diffuser, birthing ball, headphones, eye mask, soothing tea… Whatever will help transport me back into that calm and meditative state that I’ve practising for so many months now. In an ideal situation, Sam will also be doing all the talking, questioning and decisions with the medical team (all part of our birthing preferences) – so I don’t have to be interrupted, and can just focus on being in my own little zone.
Benefits of Hypnobirthing? They say many Hypnobirther’s are more likely to experience a more comfortable and sometimes pain free birth (as you’re not in a fight-or-flight state of mind – which will naturally tense up your whole body), your baby ends up arriving to a more serene and relaxed environment, alert and ready to bond with you as nature intended, the length of labour is often much shorter with Hypnobirthing births, less drugs and medical intervention are used, mum’s often bounce back quicker after birth (as the physical impact of labour is reduced), and your birth partner will learn how to support you and have a much more central and active role in the birth – creating more of a shared, unison experience… I mean, how wonderful doesn’t all of this sound?
However, when all of that said, I am also a realist, and I’m more than aware that things don’t always go according to plan, complications can arise and I’m by no means saying that all of the above benefits are guaranteed… Yet I have read many Hypnobirther’s stories who have had their ideal plan A, B & C out of the window – and have had to have an emergency C-section, or on various drugs – but they have still managed to make the most out of creating that serene and calm environment, continued with their breathing and meditation, and most importantly, stayed as calm as possible for the baba. Nothing in life is guaranteed, and whatever will be, will be; I might end up having the dream labour just the way I have envisioned it with my Birthing Preferences, or I might also find myself in a very different scenario – but I also know that I am going into it with so much positivity and excitement than I ever thought I would have, and feel a whole load more equipped to tackle and control my state of mind during the process – and feel very lucky to have such a strong and supportive birthing partner by my side every step of the way.
We completed 3 x 1-2-1 courses with Jemma, but she also offer group classes – check out the the course information here.