What is hypnobirthing and why could it be good for you?
You may have heard other mothers who have been through labour talking about the benefits of hypnobirthing. But what is hypnobirthing and should you do it?
Hypnobirthing is a technique designed to help improve your breathing, reduce anxiety and manage pain during labour. You’ll use a mixture of relaxation, breathing techniques and hypnosis to help overcome pain during childbirth.
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What are the techniques used during hypnobirthing?
There are six core breathing elements to hypnobirthing and these are:
Breathing deeply through your nose as much as you can and then releasing the breath in the same amount of time as the in-breath.
Take a deep breath for a count of two seconds and exhale for 10 seconds.
Breathe in for a count of two and as you push out tighten your abdomen and push the breath down. This helps relax your pelvic floor during a surge.
Light touch massage
Have your birthing partner lightly brush their fingertips across your back to help you relax.
Counter touch massage
Using your hands massage your lower back and apply pressure during a surge.
Concentrate fully on taking a deep breath for four seconds and breathe out slowly for 8 seconds
As well as breathing, hypnobirthing is about changing your mindset about giving birth. Unfortunately, labour is often portrayed in the media alongside images of screaming women in pain.
Hypnobirthing helps you change your mindset, focusing on positive thoughts and words around labour. Instead of using words such as contraction, words such as surge or wave are used.
Many women find that they’re able to empty their mind and breathe their way into birthing their baby. It is thought that by having your body and mind in a more relaxed state pain can be dimmed out.
What does the breathing do in hypnobirthing?
If you think of labour as a really intense workout, it’s easy to see how breathing is really important when giving birth. Like any workout, your muscles become tired when they don’t get enough oxygen.
During labour, you’re using the same muscles over and over to birth your baby. By having good breathing techniques, you’re supplying those muscles with the oxygen they need to continue doing all that work. It’ll mean you’ll feel less muscular pain and have more stamina to continue.
As an exercise, take your right arm and hold it out in front of you and breathe normally. Time how long you can do that before your arm becomes tired. Then, do the same with your left arm, but this time, concentrate fully on your breathing, counting to four and filling your lungs as much as possible and breathe slowly out for 8 seconds. You’ll find that you can leave your arm extended much longer because there’s more oxygen coursing through your bloodstream to your muscles.
The benefits of hypnobirthing
Along with feeling more confident with the birthing process, including hypnobirthing during labour and birth of your baby can have the following benefits:
Reduced need for interventions
A 2011 review of studies showed that hypnobirthing may help encourage a vaginal birth. And a 2015 study found that only 17% of hypnobirthing women have caesarean deliveries, compared to 32%.
Naturally managed pain
Hypno-birthers believe that it helps reduce pain during labour, allowing some women to have a medication-free birthing experience.
Hypnobirthing could shorten the early and active labour stages when surges are longer, stronger and closer together.
Helps with trauma
It may help women who have experienced labour trauma before and have a fear of giving birth remain calm.
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