During my first pregnancy I heard the word ‘hypnobirthing’ mentioned a lot. I was reading books about positive birthing and I was in a really good headspace as I approaced my birth, so I dismissed hypnobirthing as something I didn’t need to do. Largely, because I didn’t really understand what it was and the name put me off. However, for my second birth I learned all about it and I did the amazing online course by The Postive Birth Company and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone planning on starting a family. Below, we talk to Midwife and hynobirthing teacher Hannah O’Sullivan about what hynobirthing really is and who it’s suitable for. 

  1. WHAT IS HYPNOBIRTHING? I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE GET PUT OFF AS THEY THINK IT INVOLVES BEING HYPNOTISED.

Hypnobirthing is nothing like stage hypnotism – no one will be swinging a pocket watch or barking like a dog! Anyone and everyone accesses hypnotic states many times a day – it is often referred to as ‘zoning out’. For example being so absorbed in a book that you are really focussed on the story and the outside world fades away, or maybe daydreaming whilst staring out of a train window. You switch off the part of your brain that does critical thinking and sink into a relaxed feeling, where your concentration is really focussed. Using guided relaxation scripts and recorded MP3s allows your concentration to be focused into thinking positively about birth. When we are in this relaxed state, our subconscious brain is more active.  All the messages you have picked up about birth during your life have been stored away in your subconscious, and they form the bedrock of how you feel about birth. Using positive reinforcement hypnobirthing changes how you feel about birth, and that in turn changes how you birth!

  1. HOW CAN HYPNOBIRTHING HELP MOTHERS PREPARE FOR BIRTH?

Hypnobirthing from The Positive Birth Company is a full antenatal course. It will teach you everything you need to know about how your body labours, about the hormones controlling labour and what you can do to support that process. Our courses also offer lots of practical techniques to practise in pregnancy that are used on the day to help birth be calm, relaxed and even enjoyable! It always surprises me how little most people understand about labour and birth, how many misconceptions there are, how successful the negative imagery of birth is portrayed by the media. Most of us have spent our lives being told that birth has to be awful – on our courses we unpick why that might be and reflect on stories we have heard using this knowledge. This can be incredibly reassuring, and the people doing our courses report in their thousands that they no longer fear birth. Amazing!

  1. WHAT ARE THE MAIN BENEFITS?

Knowledge is power! Understanding how amazing your birthing body is will really help you to feel empowered and positive about your birth. Learning about the impact your birthing environment has on labour will help you to take control of your birth space to improve your birth experience. Learning amazing breathing techniques to support you as you labour, and practising relaxation in pregnancy – which will not only improve your labour but also help you to enjoy pregnancy too. The course also has a big focus on birth partners, so it’s a fantastic way of helping partners to feel involved in pregnancy and labour. We teach women and birthing people how to focus on their breathing in labour – and teach birth partners to do everything else. No silent partners here! 

  1. DOES HYPNOBIRTHING ONLY WORK FOR PEOPLE HAVING NATURAL BIRTHS?

Not at all! On our hypnobirthing course we cover all kinds of births, from homebirth, to induction of labour, to caesarean section. We help women and birthing people gain insight into the maternity system, and teach you how to navigate consultations with healthcare staff – using systematic decision making to support you to make the right choice for you and your baby.

  1. ARE THERE ANY PEOPLE / BIRTHS IT’S NOT SUITED TO?

Really none at all!  We teach those who are pregnant for the first time and those who have given birth before but want to learn more, or change how their next birth feels. I have taught women who have chosen elective caesareans near the end of pregnancy who used the decision making information to really feel that they were in the driving seat of that choice, and who then went on to make a beautiful birth plan for a caesarean section and used their breathing techniques to help get over the nerves of being in an operating theatre. The skills learnt on a hypnobirthing course are truly for all births.

  1. IS THERE ANY PROOF THAT IT WORKS?

We have 1000s of positive reviews and stories whenever we ask for feedback! But also,  in 2006 The Cochrane Review into alternative pain management for labour found evidence to suggest that hypnobirthing “decreases the need for pharmacological pain relief, reduced induction and augmentation of labour, shortens the length of labour, increases the incidence of spontaneous birth, is associated with improved maternal well-being and satisfaction and is beneficial to neonatal outcomes’

  1. SHOULD HUSBANDS DO HYPNOBIRTHING TOO?

Well – not everyone who is pregnant has a husband!  Our course has a lot of information for birth companions – having a trusted friend or relation present at birth can really help to support you to focus on your labour whilst knowing that you have an advocate ‘on your side, and by your side’. We give so much great advice for birth partners, and the feedback we get is that this really empowers birth partners to be involved in pregnancy and birth in a positive and meaningful way.

  1. WHAT IF PARENTS DON’T HAVE TIME TO ATTEND SCHEDULED SESSIONS?

Our Digital Hypnobirthing Pack is available here. With our full hypnobirthing course in short video sessions taught by founder Siobhan Miller, parents can access the course at a time to suit them, making it super accessible. 

  1. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT TEACHING THIS COURSE?

I LOVE teaching hypnobirthing – most people arrive at the course feeling apprehensive about birth and leave feeling positive and prepared.  Knowing that I have played a part in changing the negative narrative about birth feels amazing!  

  1. HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE SIGNED UP FOR YOUR COURSE SO FAR?

Through sales of our online courses, our award winning Freya app, our bestselling book, and our free social media resources we have reached more than 30 million people around the globe and are honoured to play a role in so many families’ stories.  

  1. WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER ONE TOP TIP TO GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO IS DUE IMMINENTLY?

If you do nothing else, learn our Up Breathing technique – we have a free video here.  If you do nothing else this breathing technique is super simple (slowly breathing in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 8) is a real gamechanger!To find out more about the amazing and accessable online hynobirthing course you can download the hynobirthing digital pack for just £39. To browse our range of natural baby products visit our eco baby shop to find organic nursery essentials including our award winning organic baby sleeping bagsnatural fabric soft toys and non-toxic play mats.  

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