What is Hypnobirthing?

When trying to summarize hypnobirthing in one sentence, even the most experienced course instructors fail. Why? Hypnobirthing is extremely versatile and so flexible as an approach to birth that every birth couple can benefit from it. Although it sounds a bit mystical in the first place it is hugely powerful.

Hypnobirthing is a comprehensive, mental preparation for birth that provides and nurtures

  • confidence in your own strengths as a mother and your body,
  • tangible and logical knowledge for pregnancy, birth and postpartum 
  • a positive birth experience, whatever the weather

Marie Mongan coined and developed the HypnoBirthing method in the 1980s. Mongan’s findings are based on a British gynecologist Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, who advocated natural childbirth at the beginning of the 20th century. He recognized that fear and lack of knowledge are the worst enemies of natural childbirth. He called this phenomenon “fear-tension-pain syndrome,” and claimed it can also be triggered by thoughts and expectations, well before birth.

However, these negative thoughts don’t just arise in your head out of nowhere. Birth stories passed amongst friends and work colleagues can trigger prenatal anxieties surrounding birth. Even stories from our mothers can inject an element of fear into childbirth at an early age. Many children grow up hearing their mothers’ birth stories, and some unknowingly portray birth as an agonizing act. These narratives lead us to believe that we have no control over birth. They make us feel that midwives and doctors must save us and that we are all lucky to be okay after going through it. This description is still relatively mild – it’s easy to find horror stories about births these days. Unfortunately, many birth stories no longer mirror reality. Story-telling is notorious for twisting the facts and adding extra drama – birth stories are strong candidates for this. Furthermore, many negative birth stories don’t cover the medical facts correctly, resulting in further misunderstandings and falsehoods.

To protect women from these traumatic experiences, Dick-Read developed “prenatal psychoprophylaxis”. He aimed to strengthen the expectant mother mentally with exercises and physically with gymnastics, in order to make birth a pleasant experience. His main objective was to help the mother to avoid painkillers or narcotics.

Today, this technique is called “mental birth preparation” or simply “hypnobirthing”. It has since been expanded to include numerous modern and scientific findings.

Where does hypnosis come in?

Although there is something mystical about the term hypnosis, you will quickly discover that it is not an esoteric or spiritual theory. The techniques are solid, practical and understandable with common sense. Hypnosis is a part of hypnotherapy, whose effectiveness is very much scientifically proven.

What is the goal of hypnobirthing?

The goal is to release fears in the mother or the couple. This enable the mother to have an empowering birth, which she will remember positively – no matter how the birth develops. Hypnobirthing is about your well-being and that of your child – during pregnancy but of course also during birth.

Hypnobirthing is birth prep from different angles. It looks at the mental side using deep relaxation techniques, builds a bridge between the mental and physical aspect of birth birth using simple breathing techniques and helps you as the mother tune into your instincts by building trust in yourself and your child. Your partner can also benefit from these techniques. Hypnobirthing helps with any birth – whether it is a quick, natural birth or a planned cesarean birth.

How many parents prepare

Birth demands a ton of preparation and organisation. As prospective parents, you think about what you need for the arrival of the little one, what you might want to do without and how to navigate the postpartum period. This is a wonderful time – the anticipation and love for the little unborn being is already huge and so it should be.

Unfortunately, however, some things do get forgotten, which are important for the arrival of the baby. These can be considerations around the birth.

Unfortunately, it happens too often that parents choose a place to give birth without much hesitation (often the hospital that is closest) and do not think much about the topic after this decision. Perhaps they are influenced by stories and tales of other births and the mother then briefly thinks about the topic of pain relief – unfortunately far too often then also associated with fear or horror stories. Even if one informs oneself a little more, and perhaps reserves a birth center or speaks with a midwife, parents often still approach their birth too little prepared. And that is a pity.

If one plans a world trip, one informs oneself as extensively as possible about the countries and their customs, so that one can enjoy a beautiful stay. Because if you were planning a marathon, you would train accordingly (and not just buy the equipment for it!). And a birth is nothing different. I would even dare to say that the birth of a child is probably once of the most important events in the life of parents.

Knowledge is power – the power to decide for yourself. In addition to the conventional aspects of birth preparation, a hypnobirthing course offers extensive information on all aspects and areas of a birth. Thus you as parents are informed what options are open to you.

Because you have a choice – you always have a choice

This starts with the choice of birth location to vaginal exams just before birth. Hypnobirthing is about understanding that when you know your options, and know about the consequences of those options, you are on the right path to experiencing your dream birth.

Why? When you understand that you have a choice, you have control over the situation. This ensures you feel safe and confident. These feelings contribute to a strong sense of calm and well-being – you feel good. Mental wellbeing has a big physical impact on birth – on your hormones, on your breathing, on your body. And this calmness gives you the security you need while you are giving birth to your baby.

Therefore, it is worthwhile to approach the preparation for the birth properly. Think about: What is important to you? What kind of birth do you want for yourself or your baby? What kind of support could help you to achieve this birth? Put yourself in the hands of these people – whether it is the right birth preparation, the right midwife or the right place. Because as the famous doctor and obstetrician Michel Odent said: It does matter how we are born.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *