What is hypnobirthing?
Far from the images that may be conjured up when one initially thinks of hypnobirthing, it has nothing to do with being out of control of your thoughts or actions or sitting around in a circle in a spaced-out daze. In fact quite the opposite; the main premise of hypnobirthing is to allow you to take control of your mind and body and equips you (and your partner) with the tools necessary to change fearful thoughts into a positive experience. Additionally, far from separating you from the birth process, it is a technique that requires some active preliminary groundwork through repetitions of visualisations and breathing exercises to serve as an anchor to fully prepare your body to easily enter a state of deep relaxation.
How does hypnobirthing achieve this?
Enhances relaxation - It teaches you to enter a deep state of relaxation through effective deep breathing exercises and visualisations that allow you to easily enter a state of self-hypnosis. This is not a state that is unfamiliar to us, but more akin to the trance like state we are in when day-dreaming - quietly aware of our surroundings but focusing on something more internal.
Power of language –We are often programmed to subconsciously associate negative and harsh sounding words with negative feelings and pain so these are replaced with softer, more positive ones to continually shift our subconscious thoughts towards the birth process to a calm and confident outlook. An example is replacing ‘contraction’ with ‘surge’.
Reducing negative thoughts and fear - Hypnobirthing recognises it is normal to 'have a wobble' and for even the most confident pregnant women to become anxious about the huge task ahead of her. Any negative thoughts are addressed and the focus is continually shifted to where you want to be.
Education about healthy, natural pregnancies and births - The over-medicalisation of normal births is discussed and techniques are taught that enable you to achieve a more natural and calm birth such as the use of water as a pain-relief method, active birth positions to promote easier descent of the baby through the birth canal and the effects of a home birth in creating a calm and peaceful environment for birthing your baby.
The science behind hypnobirthing
Rather than being a strange and hippyish concept, the rationale behind how hypnobirthing works can be easily explained.
It promotes activation of the parasympathetic nervous system.
When a woman is fearful and anxious throughout labour, her adrenaline levels are increased and sympathetic nervous system is predominant. Whilst this is great for helping us in a fearful situation that requires running away, it is not so helpful for birthing your baby. Blood rushes to the heart, lungs and peripheries and away from the area that most requires it - the uterus. Deep breathing exercises and visualisations that encourage you to focus on allowing the uterus to contract and cervix to dilate will promote a more calm and confident attitude and allow the parasympathetic system to be dominant. This is important as...
The parasympathetic system releases hormones that encourage the birth process.
Oxytocin, also known as the 'love hormone' is responsible for making the uterine muscles contract during labour. It provides a natural euphoria that helps to work as a pain-relief method. However, oxytocin and adrenaline are considered the antithesis of one another and the presence of one reduces the production of the other. Hypnobirthing techniques encourage a calm and confident attitude which will reduce fearful thoughts and make it more likely that the parasympathetic system is in force, increasing the release of oxytocin. Additionally, the parasympathetic system allows the release of endorphins which are the body's natural 'feelgood' chemical, further acting as a natural pain reliever.
All these factors combined can be a powerful tool in the birthing process, enabling you and your birth partner to achieve a positive and happy birth experience.
For more information on Hypnobirthing contact Klaudia Miller on 07917832596 or visit www.mypositivebirth.co.uk