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Hypnobirthing and Positive Words

If you’re being taught hypnobirthing then you will have already been introduced to the powerful nature of language.

We often forget how words can have such importance in how we interact, turning a passing comment from an optimistic compliment into a pessimistic jibe. It is not that there is a special language that must be used. It’s simply that words can be incredibly harmful if used carelessly. Many women comment on how, when they’re pregnant, it seems as though the world and his wife now feel they have ample reason to vocalise their experiences and opinions. This comes with little to no consideration as to how this will affect the mother and the subsequent environment for her baby.

The Power of Words

The first defence for a woman against the power of negative words is creating an environment that does value their effect. Think about the mind of a child and how they might be nervous about an upcoming injection. If an older child tells them a horror story and they become distressed then we would chastise that older child for causing them needless fear. The same is true for birth. Whilst an element of birth is unpredictable, focusing a pregnant woman’s mind on, “What if?” is unhelpful and can cause unnecessary fear. Then Grantly Dick-Read’s concept that fear causes us to tense up so that the body does not work as well and therefore there is pain, the fear-tension-pain syndrome, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Even unintentionally you can create a negative tone, which of the two sentences is more positive?

You don’t need to worry

You’re doing so well

You might notice that you would only need to remove one word from the first sentence for the meaning to be completely reversed. The mind will still process those words and having “worry” contained within it can make a woman focus all the more on what she shouldn’t be worrying about. A completely positive statement like the one below has no confusion and is a better choice for discussion.


Imagine the difference to a woman in labour if a midwife says:

‘You’re only 4 cms dilated.”

rather than

“You’re already 4 cms dilated. Well done!”


Many women have said after they have given birth, “It was his voice that carried me through. I couldn’t have done it without him,” as a result of the gentle and positive verbal support they have received from their husband or partner during the birth. Suggestions of the best and most supportive way to do this are included in the Katharine Graves HypnoBirthing Course, but an entirely natural, “You’re doing very well, and I love you'” is more than adequate.


Women who practise hypnobirthing become very well acquainted with the power of words and use them in various ways:

  • Referring to contractions (a relatively harsh-sounding word with medical associations) as surges.
  • Having the confidence to derail horror stories with a polite, “I would rather you didn’t discuss this until my baby has been born”. Kate could respond with, “My baby is not amused!” to give it a royal flair.
  • Requesting that negative terms be dropped from the birth in favour of more positive or neutral terms (i.e. “Are you in pain?” becomes simply, “How are you feeling?” or even “Are you quite comfortable?”)
  • Using a Hypnobirthing CD before bed to encourage the best subconscious state for rest and developing a positive view of birth.


If you happen to be fortunate enough to know someone who is pregnant then be a positive voice that seeks to give her confidence. Be respectful of the power words can have.

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