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An Open Letter to the Daily Mail

open letter to daily mail‘Mother tells women to prepare for childbirth with hypnobirthing NOT pain relief’


The amount of distortions and plain untruths in this article is toe curling.

The title itself is something that Lottie Daley certainly didn’t say in the interview on This Morning and definitely not what we teach in hypnobirthing.  You can see the full interview here.

Birth Preparation

Yes, women should prepare for birth. Giving birth is one of the most important experiences of a woman’s life so it would be irresponsible not to prepare. A woman prepares for her wedding for months. She doesn’t just get up in the morning and hope she could find something in her wardrobe that is suitable to wear and that her friends will show up. An athlete doesn’t just turn up on track and hope to win a race without training.

Women who are thinking of coming to the hypnobirthing class often ask, “If I do hypnobirthing, am I allowed drugs?” and the answer is, “Of course you are, but you might find you don’t need them.” Sounds pretty good to me and it is certainly not a question of hyponobirthing or pain relief.

Taking Responsibility

The Mailonline says we in hypnobirthing claim that pregnant women should ‘take responsibility’ for their pain in labour.

We don’t.

We do say that, for the women who do hypnobirthing and take responsibility for their preparation for labour, birth is often much more comfortable and sometimes even without pain.

This is a fact.

Wouldn’t it be better to ask how more women can give birth in this way?  We welcome scepticism and questioning, but it is in no-one’s interest to distort the truth and replace it with sensationalism.

For most women giving birth is the most painful experience of their lives. This is an appalling state of affairs and thank goodness there are drugs to help them. Is pain a badge of honour? Why do the women for whom birth is painful (the majority) feel the need to put down the women who have a calm, natural and empowering experience?  That’s what is happening at the moment. Not the other way round, and this is terrible when there is a possibility that their experience could be completely different.

Empowering Experience

Those who prepare using hypnobirthing often find that birth is the most empowering experience of their lives. What is wrong with that? How is it ‘shaming’ to women who need pain relief? What about helping more women to have a positive experience? But it won’t just happen as many women have learned. Plenty of women say, “I don’t want drugs” (who does?) but when it comes to labour they ask for an epidural because they haven’t prepared, they have no idea how to go with the experience, and they don’t understand the conveyor belt system they are going into.

You don’t need to be a genius to see that a more comfortable birth without drugs is preferable to a traumatic and painful experience with drugs. So why shout down those who achieve this?

We are extremely lucky to live in a society where medical help is available, but even the World Health Organisation issued new guidelines saying that birth has become over medicalised. It is time the pendulum swung back, and people who shout over the women who are actually doing this are doing a great disservice to all women.

Birth is as it is, and nobody has said it ‘should’ be any way. We know that it ‘could’ be calm and natural, and, with hypnobirthing, frequently is. The people who really understand this are second time mums who, like Lottie Daley, had an appalling experience with their first birth and can hardly believe that giving birth with hypnobirthing could be different and then are amazed to find it is.

The reality is that women who have a positive experience of birth are scared to talk about it because of the deluge of negative outrage which is targeted at them. One woman went back for a reunion with her antenatal class after she had given birth and they went round the room with every woman telling her story, and every story was negative. When it came to her turn, the person in charge said to the hypnobirthing mum, “You were alright, weren’t you, so we don’t need to hear your story.” Isn’t it appalling that people are not even able to entertain the possibility of there being another way?

Another mum told me that, out of her antenatal class of six healthy 30-something women, she was the only one who didn’t have some form of medical intervention, simply because of the knowledge and techniques she had learnt in her hypnobirthing course.

Who is doing the shaming?

To claim that women are being shamed if they have painkillers during labour or have a C-section is simply not true. Who is doing the shaming? Certainly not Harry Kane whose statements have been balanced and positive. ‘Women are being….’ Is a completely meaningless comment unless you can say who is doing the shaming and what form the shaming takes. Loud-mouthed insults help nobody and will certainly backfire on the nay-sayers.

To claim that only people who take drugs have the safety of the baby as the overall priority is insulting and untrue. It is a truism that doesn’t need to be stated. But what if you could have an even higher level of safety with a positive and profoundly bonding experience as well? Yes, it’s good that drugs are there when needed, but many drugs interfere with the flow of labour, and may even have implications that could affect babies throughout their lives. So let’s shout down everyone who suggests there could be a more logical, evidence based, and positive approach.

A Public Invitation

I would like to issue a public invitation to Ally Einstein and Molly Rose Pike to be my guest at my hypnobirthing course for parents at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. Until they do this, they do not know what they are talking about and opinion is just that, an opinion, based on nothing.

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