As lockdown continues, and we face another few months of life without access to our traditional gym settings, I have been inundated with questions regarding training strategies that can be implemented at home.
‘We have a secret in our culture and it’s not that birth is painful, it’s that women are strong.’ – Laura Stavoe Harm
Discovering you are pregnant is a moment in your life that you will never forget. It can feel exhilarating and terrifying in equal measures and as you prepare to welcome your baby into the world, understanding what options are available to you in terms of your delivery and care are vitally important.
For many women and their partners, this may be the first time in their lives that they are planning a health event. Of course, this won’t be the first time they’ve encountered health care, but this may well be the first time that they can make personalised choices that have a direct impact on their combined care. So, the importance of understanding what your options are can really lead to beautifully holistic and bespoke care.
As you navigate the trimesters of your pregnancy you will no doubt come across a variety of birthing methods and resources to help guide you in planning the birth of your child. What is important to understand is that the birth of your child is completely unique. Therefore what you may read or have suggested to you by others may have worked and felt right for them, but it might not be the perfect fit for you.
You may have heard the term ‘hypnobirthing’ and wondered just what that meant. Well, perhaps it’s easier to start this exploration by understanding what it definitely isn’t.
Firstly, you may be relieved to understand that hypnobirthing doesn’t require Paul McKenna to pull up a ringside seat with you during labour. No, you won’t be put under a ‘spell’, no, it’s not for ‘hippies’; and it’s definitely not ‘just for natural births’.
Well, one of the first fundamentals that define hypnobirthing is that it’s all about empowerment.
Your body is simply amazing, and understanding the science behind birth is one of the most powerful ways in which we can understand the phases of labour and learn to work with it.
Gone are the days where labour should be seen as a mechanical process and something that happens to you. Hypnobirthing celebrates and embraces the physiology of your body and offers a range of tools and techniques to help you feel informed, confident and in control.
Where hypnobirthing may sound ‘hippy’ to some, its roots are firmly placed within scientific and factual information. Therefore, understanding the stages of labour and how your mind and body can work together is key in developing meaningful and complementary strategies as you work through the various stages of labour.
Hypnobirthing uses self-hypnosis, relaxation, breathing and visualisation techniques to help reduce anxiety and fear and support women to feel physically and mentally prepared for labour and beyond.
By reducing anxiety and understanding the stages of labour, more increased feelings of control can be drawn on and in turn be used to assist your body in the process of labour.
By reframing where energy is placed and moving it away from worries or panic related to childbirth it can lead to lower perceptions of pain during labour and in some instances lead to a shorter labour. It’s important to understand that hypnobirthing can’t irradicate pain, but perhaps equally it is important to understand that pain is subjective and can be influenced by your psychological status.
So, using energy in a positive way and redirecting it from negative thoughts and perceptions can be incredibly beneficial.
Birth is, without doubt, the epicentre of a woman’s power, but even the mightiest of power needs support. As a partner, the prospect of childbirth can leave many feeling apprehensive or unsure of what their role actually is, which in turn can create frustrations and friction for everyone during labour.
Hypnobirthing helps build a very defined role for birthing partners both during pregnancy and birth, which can create the most powerful of dynamics.
Working as a team and establishing the desired plan can help your birthing partner not only support you during birth but also have the confidence in acting as your advocate when you may feel at your most vulnerable.
Going into childbirth prepared and empowered is not just a role for expectant mothers, but equally that of birthing partners and its benefits both individually and as a cohesive unit is not to be underestimated.
We’ve probably all seen an image of a woman lying on her back during childbirth, and whilst it’s important to understand that a woman can of course give birth on her back, there are other positions that can benefit your experience during labour.
As mentioned earlier, hypnobirthing is firmly fixed in science and fact and therefore understanding the physiology of the pelvis and your baby’s journey through it, can help identify the benefits for remaining mobile during labour.
Understanding the variety of positions available to you along with aids such as birthing balls is just one way in which you can use both mobility and gravity to your advantage.
There is a common misconception that hypnobirthing can only be used for vaginal deliveries, when in fact it can be used for all types of births and way beyond labour.
Regardless of how your baby is delivered, hypnobirthing aims to reduce fear and anxiety during pregnancy and childbirth. So, when we understand that the primary focus for hypnotherapy is about empowerment, we can confidently apply this to any setting or delivery type. Confidence comes from knowledge and power, and this can be used positively in every type of birth, regardless of setting.
But one of the even greater benefits is that the techniques and tools you learn in hypnobirthing can be applied to everyday life and even after birth. Having the ability to reduce stress, anxiety and fear can promote positive mental health and self-confidence, which can assist with postnatal recovery and far beyond.
Hypnobirthing encourages you to ask questions, explore options and feel confident to make well-informed decisions when it comes to creating your own sense of a positive birth experience. With the flexibility of being able to learn and practice techniques at any stage of your pregnancy and helping you welcome parenthood with a sense of calm, positivity and excitement; hypnobirthing can be a wonderful tool to support you on your new journey with your baby.
This is an incredibly stressful and unpredictable time for all us at the moment. It is okay to feel a roller coaster of mixed emotions as we face the uncertainty and unpredictability this pandemic brings.
Looking back at 2020 I don’t believe anyone could have predicted just how challenging the year would be and how it would take all of our collective resilience and flexibility to try and navigate it as best we can.
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