Can hypnobirthing help you have a pain-free labour?

What is hypnobirthing...and how can it help with labour?

I'm currently pregnant with my second child, and as I near the third trimester my thoughts are turning to the big event that's coming soon. Yes, I'm talking about labour.

Despite having, on paper, a relatively quick and easy first birth as a result of a planned induction, due to the circumstances that surrounded it - busy hospital, no delivery rooms, back-to-back contractions and a lot of pain - It's fair to say I'm not looking forward to it again.

However, this time, I'm determined to investigate other options that may help me feel more in control and potentially reduce the amount of pain I'm in, no matter what the circumstances are. One suggestion that keeps coming up is hypnobirthing, or hypnotherapy for childbirth.

So what is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing involves simple self-hypnosis, relaxation techniques and breathing methods to be used by the mother - possibly with the help of a birthing partner - in the run-up to and during labour. Different language is used; contractions are 'surges' rather than negative language such as 'pain', for example.

Advocates say it can help you relax, feel more in control, and release the fear and tension that exists around childbirth - in turn helping you feel less discomfort.

Although various methods are now practised, hypnobirthing is based on the work of Dr Grantly Dick-Read, an advocate of natural childbirth, whose principles also provided the foundations of the NCT. In his book Childbirth Without Fear, published in 1933, he outlined that he believed it's fear and tension that cause pain in around 95% of women who give birth.

Hypnobirthing is very much NOT the stereotyped hypnosis that you see on TV shows. There's absolutely no 'you are feeling very sleeeepy' and the accompanying ridiculous antics.

So how do you train yourself to have a hypnobirth?

Most people either have one-to-one or specialist group sessions with a qualified hypnotherapist, read a book or listen to a CD (or a combination of all three).

Various types of hypnobirthing courses are available, and it can often be incorporated into other techniques, such as pregnancy yoga.

Who tried hypnobirthing and did it help with labour?

TalkMum blogger Eleanor from The Bristol Parent took a course of Lazy Daisy classes, which are a cross between pregnancy yoga and hypnobirthing. Eleanor says 'I loved taking the classes and really enjoyed them. I only got to use the breathing for a few hours before I needed intervention and then an emergency c-section, but it really helped. I think active birth is the way forward, and it all made a lot of sense to me.'

Fritha, who writes the blog Tigerlilly Quinn says 'I bought a hypnobirthing CD and listened to it in the last month or so at bedtime and when I was doing yoga in the morning in the last two weeks. I played it during labour and was totally chilled. It definitely helped (my partner said he was seriously sick of the sound of it though!)'

Jessica from Along Came Cherry is also a big advocate of hypnobirthing, especially for second-time mums: 'I would 100% recommend it! I went from having a horrible hospital birth with all the drugs to a home birth with no pain relief at all. I used the Maggie Howell Natal Hypnotherapy CD and read the book to go with it. I listened to the CD most nights for the last few months. I found I was able to stay calm and control the entire time when first time round I had totally freaked out by the time I was 3 cm dilated.'

'I'm 100% sold on hypnobirthing. It made all the difference to my second birth,' says Adele from Circus Queen. 'I even find the techniques helpful in day to day life. I did it with Katharine Graves at The Hypnobirthing Centre and want to train with her to become a teacher at some point. I really rate the techniques but especially rate her. She's written a book so even if you just got the book and listened to the CD that would help.'

So what do I think?

From research and speaking to other mums who have tried hypnobirthing, it does seems there's something in it and I'm really keen to investigate further. Although I'm not entirely sure it can get rid of all the pain I think it can't hurt to try, even if it helps me not go into the birth with a negative mindset. And anything that will help even a little bit is worth it, surely?

More information available, with some tried and tested recommendations as follows:

Did you try pre-natal hypnotherapy and did it work for you? Leave a comment and let us know.

Giving birth shortly? You can also read our tips on getting ready for labour.

Gillian blogs over at A Baby on Board about London life as a new mum, covering everything from baby clothes to breastfeeding. She is pregnant with her second child and lives with her toddler daughter Eliza and husband Alex in south London.

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