You are getting closer and closer to the big day. You start to imagine how the birth of your baby will look like, how much this must hurt and how are you going to even manage this pain. If you are already getting the most horrific images in your head, please hold your horses.
Does giving birth hurt? The answer is yes (sorry!). Can I do something about it? Yes. Does it have to be so scary? Not at all.
How I came across the ‘hypnobirthing’ term
When I was browsing about different stages of labour and managing the pain, the term hypnobirthing popped up. I looked at the Youtube videos which showed testimonials of women who had an amazing birthing experience thanks to the hypnobirthing technique.
I’ve always been interested in psychology: complexity of our brain, how does subconscious affect our lives or how meditation can improve our lifestyle. But I was sceptic at first, I couldn’t imagine a painless birth (can you?). Since I believe in the power of mind I decided to research the topic in detail.
What is mindful hypnobirthing
In short, hypnobirthing is a mix of meditation, hypnosis and visualising techniques. Mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment, feeling all that is happening around you and bringing the attention to mundane but how important processes such as breathing, sitting or walking.
Because the idea of the most excruciating pain that labour involves has been embedded within us for ages, it is hard to change our view that it can be a positive experience. We have all watched movies with screaming women giving birth; your friends who already have kids probably told you awful stories and your mum just gave you that look when you asked about her experience. So it’s apparent that in society persists this belief that suffering is an integral part of bringing a little human to this world.
There are courses available to attend and learn all the hypnobirthing method but for me the price was way too high (limited budget anyone?); I bought a book instead. It’s called Mindful Hypnobirthing by Sophie Fletcher.
How does the book help you to become more confident
The book is well written and introduce you the the world of meditation and self-hypnosis in an uncomplicated way. I really enjoyed listening to the meditation tracks from the book, especially to Sophie’s voice- it was so calming and relaxing! The CD (or the audio book if you choose it) is divided into short mindfulness part, visualisation, and longer meditation tracks. You are meant to listen to them daily, ideally from 28-30th week of your pregnancy.
Sophie gives you advice on how to write your birth plan, how to relax on a daily basis and how to shift your awareness in any situation. She outlines the advantages of water birth and using hypnobirthing techniques at the same time (which I also intended to do) and how to prepare the room you will stay in during your labour.
There’s even track for your partner (if you convince him to listen to it you’re a winner!).
So the book gives you a sense of confidence: you will finish reading or listening to it with a feeling that you are in power during your labour.
My personal experience with hypnobirthing
I’ve never done mediation before, although I tried few times. I even joined a class one day but came out laughing at the breathing exercises those people were doing; it just sounded so funny for me on that time! Plus I couldn’t focus at all; it’s actually difficult to clear your mind completely.
So deciding to try out the hypnobirthing was more like a challenge to me. I remember when I first listened to the track; I felt weird but definitely more relaxed. So I started doing it diligently every day, putting an alarm for the same hour. This was actually working, even my friends told me I look more calm and stopped complaining that much ( when I thought my mood swings don’t exist at all).
So when my first contractions started to appear at 4 am in the morning I immediately put the hypnobirthing tracks on and I started to do my visualisations. I have to say that at that point I was feeling as if I’m having a painful period so there was not that much to distract from. Few hours later I was in a bigger pain but listening to Sophie’s voice kept calming me down.
However my reaction to stronger waves of contractions that were about to come was not what I have planned or expected. In the hospital it turned out that I will be throwing up quite often during the second stage of labour. I could not eat anything, even water made me sick; eventually they had to put me on a water drip.
I have to admit that as much as I wanted the tracks to work during the last, most difficult stage of labour, I could not bother to listen to them. I tried to use all the advice that I learned from the book and although it didn’t work for me with every painful contraction, I believe I put the focus on a right thing when it was the most needed ( in the combination with gas and air).
So is it worth practising hypnobirthing? I would say yes, definitely. By this day I enjoy the benefits of mindfulness practice in the most stressful situations (and there are many when the baby finally arrives!). It is so important to keep the right mind while you are pregnant and during labour; I’d say any kind of mediation will be beneficial for you.
If you decide to buy the book or sign up for a hypnobirthing course make sure you don’t do it at the last minute. Your body has to get used to being in a ‘hypnosis ‘zone’ so if you start 4 weeks before your due date it won’t do much for you. The earlier you start practising, the better for you.
I think that’s maybe one of the reasons the hypnobirthing method only worked for me partially- I only started practising at about 34 weeks of my pregnancy. Who knows, if I started to focus on it at the recommended time, I might have had much less painful labour?
Anyway, just because my birthing experience was not exactly as I wished for, it doesn’t mean your one won’t be positive. You just have to be ready for anything as nobody can predict the unpredictable!
Good luck mamas:)