Monday, 30 March 2015

Does self-taught hypnobirthing work?

Following on from '29 weeks and considering the birth', I got thinking about the techniques I used to get through labour last time.


First, I should probably write a bit of a disclaimer. I did not attend any official hypnobirthing classes, and I suspect I didn't do things 'as intended'...this is purely my personal experience with, let's say, dabbling with it. So if you want to have an in-depth look at how hypnobirthing works/whether it's for you, I suggest you start with this website and go from there. There will certainly be classes in your area to explore, so give it a 'Google'. :)


Right, so, a friend of mine recently asked whether I was going to be doing hypnobirthing, and I initially thought 'why would she think that?'....then of course I twigged that that was what I did last time!

That sounds idiotic I know, but hear me out. I did use a hypnobirthing CD leading up to Lib's birth to relax and help with visualisation techniques, but because I didn't really listen to the CD during labour, I never thought that I had 'hypnobirthed'. There was no relaxing music playing, no soft lighting, Si didn't repeat different mantras to me, etc etc. No...lying on a stark hospital bed with strip fluorescent lighting above you doesn't really scream 'hypnobirth', does it.  However, I think I under-estimated the impact the small amount I had listened to had on the birth. In fact, all of those techniques listened to and learnt within the weeks leading up to birth, were what got me through it. I certainly think I would have panicked for starters, and probably screamed for pain relief if I hadn't felt in some way prepared! I found that by just saying the "3..2..1...relax" mantra, would help to calm me down and focus, and when you're concentrating that hard and in the 'zone', you find that a lot of the fear goes out the window.

So what did my hypno-birthing experience entail?

Well, I used the Natal Hypnotherapy CD which was recommended on the NCT website. Like most Mums I was on a budget, so spending hundreds of pounds on a course wasn't an option. I was more than happy to sit quietly at home and, like I've said before, 'dabble' with it and take whatever I wanted from it. I found that particular CD very good actually. I used to listen to it at least once a week, the narrator/practitioner has a nice gentle voice, and it wasn't too....full on.
It's all about using visualisation to get into a place of relaxation, and the techniques learnt helped a lot. I think psychologically visualising the same things I had done at home (in a safe and quiet space) instantly helped to ground me in labour. It was almost like having an out of body experience. I was in hospital, but my mind was back home in bed! Obviously, during the times I had listened to it at home (often falling asleep I should add), I had soaked things up like a sponge.

But does it help with the pain?

Well, from my experience, judging by the fact I had a couple of paracetamol a few hours before it kicked off, and used a TENS machine on the lowest setting on and off, I'd say YES.

According to the HypnoBirthing UK site

"65-70% of Hypnobirthing mum's don't need any form of pain relief. Nearly all the mum's in this category simply don't experience any pain - just pressure. Around 20-25% only required something mild like gas and air, and the remaining 5-10% had 'special circumstances' (usually where intervention was required)"

I didn't do 'HypnoBirthing UK' because it is an official course-led form of hypnotherapy, so the way I did it probably wasn't classed as hypno-birthing according to them. Needless to say their statistics are interesting, and it does tie in with my experiences. The pain I felt was more like uncomfortable pressure, rather than sharp pain (until you are literally pushing baby out of course). In fact, at one point (when they didn't know what to do with me!) I had a really wobbly moment, lost concentration, and yep, it instantly felt a whole lot more painful and a lot more scary. I had lost the feeling of control, which I think is what makes hypnotherapy in labour so good. You are convincing yourself that you are in control of this situation (whether you are or not!) which inevitably relaxes you.

Do you feel in a trance?

Not really. You're still aware of things going on around you, but because concentration is needed, you just filter everything else out.

So even just allowing a small amount of time out for hypnotherapy/relaxation beforehand was really beneficial to me in labour. Apparently using hypnotherapy is meant to shorten labour as well (perhaps because you are really concentrating on effective breathing and relaxing key muscles) and my labour was relatively short. It could all be coincidence of course! Plus, I suppose it's one of those things whereby it might not work for all, but I will say that if you are pregnant and in any way interested, it's worth giving it a shot. After all, any techniques you can take on board to help relaxation are going to beneficial. This time around, I'm using the same CD (it all came flooding back to me very quickly) and I've bought the Labour Companion too (just to make it a bit more interesting). I'll obviously let you know what effect it has this time around.

Feel free to post any comments or questions!

pregnancy hypnobirthing hypnosis birth