When I was pregnant with the little bird, I had booked a birth preparation class for my man and myself. I was not so much looking for information regarding the pregnancy (it’s all on the web, right ?) but wanted us to take this as an opportunity to get together into the whole “pregnancy/baby/birth/postpartum“ groove. For myself, I was particularly interested in the breathing techniques which would help the day I’d be in labour. Unfortunately, the latter was a topic which was covered in only ten minutes so the very basic information left me quite unsatisfied.
During week nr.35, my cousin, who was also pregnant at that time, told me about hypnobirthing. I was really intrigued by the idea of applying self hypnosis (think more self relaxation here) to put my mind and body into a relaxed state in order to cope with the labour pain. Here is why:
The main focus of hypnobirthing is to see childbirth as a positive event and dissociate the idea of fear and pain. Thanks to various techniques covering the fields of relaxation, breathing, visualization and affirmation, this method allows to avoid tension (which often leads to stress and pain) in order to have a calm birth experience. The absence of fear and pain is something that comes up throughout the whole method, starting already with the vocabulary which is used: i.e. a contraction is called “surge”, physical sensations that are often only named as pain are described in a more specific way as “tension, pressure…” in order to replace this negative word completely.
I read a lot that it is recommended to participate in a course or workshop by a trained hypnobirthing coach in order to get all the information and good practice of the different techniques. However, these require quite an investment, both financially and also time wise. Personally, although I had started quite late, I had achieved great results thanks to reading the Mongan method book to get familiar with the theorectical approach and using the Hypnobirthing Mindifi app to practice the breathing and relaxation techniques almost every day for the rest of that pregnancy… because yeah, regular practice is key. The more you practice the better you can make use of the hypnobirthing techniques during labour.
For those who don’t have time left to attend a class or read the book, there is a video on Youtube that shows a whole hypnobirthing seminar (incl. all key details), uploaded by a certified coach. Oh, what I would have given if it had already been available back in 2013 🙂
To refresh my memory for the upcoming birth and also get my man on board, we watched this video at home on our couch which was definitely more comfortable than spending a lot of money on attending five 2.5 hour long classes on the other side of the city :). However, that’s just my experience. I am sure that joining a class by a certified coach is also very efficient !
Looking back, it’s been a real pity that I had heard about hypnobirthing only at the end of my pregnancy because the earlier you start with it the better (ideally in the middle of your pregnancy). Honestly, the overall approach and skills were what had helped me the most during labour. The surge breathing made it so much easier to cope with the discomfort of my contractions, especially when we had to change locations by car and I had to stay calm in a seated position although I was panicking. While birthing my baby, I applied the birth breathing which worked really well in combination with the Kegel exercises which I had done throughout the past months. At that stage, I also used visualisations and imagined the opening of a flower. Thanks to these techniques and me staying calm (my face and in particular my jaw stayed relaxed), birthing my baby was really not painful. However, I experienced that it is important that the birth staff knows and respects that you are applying the hypnobirthing method. After all, if you have practiced the techniques, you are the one who knows best how to stay calm and breathe and no one should interfere or tell you to do it differently (i.e. in my case, my first midwife was ok with it but somehow she wanted me to breathe in a different way, make loud sounds etc, which brought me out of concept. As it was my first birth I was a bit unsure whether I should stay with what I had learned or follower her…arghh)
For the upcoming birth, I have started to practice my hypnobirthing techniques already from early on, with the below being my favorites:
Surge breathing -> Balloon Visualisation: Of course, at the beginning I was not able to breathe in and out for that long so while inhaling, I envisioned a balloon that got bigger and bigger. With each practice I managed to breathe longer until I didn’t need that picture in my head anymore. So far, applying this breathing technique has already helped me when my bump became tense so I am sure that it will be again of good use when my baby arrives.
Relaxation: I love the 1-2-3-4-5 relaxation exercice which is featured in the above video. It has already come in handy when I was struggling with falling asleep. With every time I try it it just works better.
Affirmations: Given my first birth experience, one may think that I must be super scared about the upcoming event. However, instead of thinking about what could go wrong I just tell myself that I’ll have a great birth experience that will go just the way it’s supposed to be. I prefer to be confident instead of being fearful and reminding myself on a daily basis has made me much more relaxed. I am really looking forward to giving birth again 🙂
So all in all, I believe that hypnobirthing is a great method to prepare for birth. Speaking from my experience, it does not make the whole event free of pain but it helps a lot to be able to cope with those enduring sensations that the body is going through while birthing the baby. Being relaxed and calm is in my opinion a better state than being stressed when it comes to childbirth, especially as it is really the event in life where we as humans don’t get to control that much…and when we’re out of control, we’d better be relaxed 😉