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Katharine shares about her route to Hypnobirthing

I came to Hypnobirthing by chance. One of those apparent chances that you wonder if they’re really chances at all. A colleague had done the training, and mentioned to me in passing that I might enjoy it. It has changed my professional life.

Having had four children of my own, I had considerable experience of birth from the practical side. When my children were born there had been good preparation classes which included relaxation and breathing based on the teaching of Grantly Dick-Reed. Hypnobirthing takes his premise much much further.

Dick-Reed’s premise is that the root cause of the problem is fear, which gives rise to tension in the muscles, inhibiting their natural functioning and causing pain. Hypno-birthing understands that, until this fear is released, all work is of necessity on the surface. It’s like papering over the cracks. So fear release is an important part of the Hypnobirthing course.

What is Hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing is also a little like learning a musical instrument. I could tell you how to play the piano in about ten minutes, but it wouldn’t mean you could do it. You could go to classes every week for a year and you would make some progress. But you really make progress because of the practice you do in between. Hypnobirthing is the same. You can read about it in a book and you understand it. You go to a class and it becomes real and enables you to put it into practice for yourself.

Having worked on fear release, then you can put positive learnings in its place. There is relaxation, deepening of relaxation and self hypnosis. There is breathing and visualization. And then there is the important aspect of going through the birth with what to expect at each stage, and what you or your birth partner can usefully do at each stage.

The NHS midwifery services are woefully stretched and short of budget, so they have very little time for preventative care and to talk things through with you. Antenatal visits consist of monitoring to see if anything has gone wrong, and almost the only positive advice is to take folic acid in the first three months of pregnancy.

Every intervention in pregnancy or labour has an up-side, and also a down-side. In each individual case the upside or the downside will be more important and, when a decision is to be made, it’s good to be informed and to talk it through. It’s also good to look at the alternatives. While stressing the importance of listening to the advice and experience of your medical team, Hypnobirthing goes through all the options and gives you positive practices to use at each stage of labour.

The role of the birthing partner is extremely important in Hypnobirthing. Of course plenty of mothers have learnt it and used it successfully on their own, but many others have said, “I could never have done it without his voice prompting me.” It’s good for the relationship of mother and father, and of baby and father, that the father knows he is making a difference in the birth process.

There is also the question of when to do it. The official advice is any time in the second trimester but, having said that, I have successfully taught Hypnobirthing to a mother who gave birth two days alter, and it worked beautifully, so really all you can say is that, ‘Hypnobirthing works’.

Read more about ‘What is Hypnobirthing’ here.

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