Following on from my recent birth story post, I thought I’d do another one going into a bit more detail about hypnobirthing! This is something I get asked about quite a lot, and it was an absolute game changer for me, so I really want to share it with you!
Hypnobirthing doesn’t involve being hypnotised in any way! It’s also not a hippie/indie thing exclusively for hipsters and earth mothers! It’s very scientific, and the main things I took from it were the breathing techniques, the positive affirmations and the logic behind labour.
On the recommendation of Giovanna Fletcher (love that woman), I bought the Katherine Graves hypnobirthing book. I had never even heard of hypnobirthing before, but the way Gi spoke about it and was so confidence in it made me feel like I had to check it out.
This book is SO SO brilliant in every way! The thought of labour absolutely terrified me (as it does most women!), but Katherine’s book completely turned that around for me. I’m quite a logical thinker, so the fact that she goes into the science behind labour and what is actually happening to your body, helped me massively.
She completely crushes some of the common associations with labour – things like the fact that we tend to view it as a medical emergency, the natural urge to panic when we’re in pain, and the link between labour and fear. The way she explains it in this book was a real eye opener for me – I was instantly in!
When I was around 30 weeks pregnant, that was the time when I really started to take hypnobirthing seriously. Katherine emphasises that daily practice is pretty much essential if you want hypnobirthing to work for you, so I committed myself to doing it. My daily practice looked like this:
- Listening to my hypnobirthing CD whilst getting ready in a morning
- 20 minutes pregnancy yoga (I found some videos just on YouTube that really worked for me, and just alternated between them!)
- Sitting on my birthing ball practicing the breathing techniques
All in all, I would say it took about 30 minutes out of my day. The hypnobirthing CD I had is also by Katherine Graves, and is really focused on eliminating fear, because that’s what I knew I would struggle with! I used to listen to it every morning while I got ready for the day, then go downstairs, do my yoga, then relax on my birthing ball practicing some deep breathing. For me, daily practice was just about teaching myself to relax easily. By the time my labour day came, I could switch into relaxation mode much quicker.
I also did a couple of other things that Katherine recommended in her book. She talks about not letting any negativity into your head in the run up to your birth. So for me, that included not watching the news, not reading any negative birth stories, and generally not even entertaining the fact that my birth might not go as planned. I kept a completely positive mental head space. I also did a lot of visualisation about how I wanted my birth to go – I believe this helped massively! I was also doing weekly pregnancy yoga classes, and I took an additional positive birthing workshop, which showed me some practical tools that I could pass onto Daniel for during labour.
In the days before my labour, I remember thinking ‘well, I’ve done all I can!’ I didn’t really notice a huge difference in my general way of thinking, or that I was feeling more positive than usual or anything like that. To be honest, I kind of half expected it not to work.
However, when the day finally came and I went into labour, no word of a lie here, something just CLICKED in my brain, almost like I was going into autopilot. I could literally feel my subconscious kicking in, I didn’t have to do anything at all. I was so calm, so focused, and felt so relaxed! I surrounded myself with things that made me happy like Christmas movies and candles so that everything was set up for a positive birth.
You can read about how my birth went in more detail here, but it was the most amazing, empowering experience of my life. I don’t believe I was lucky or that it was a coincidence, I genuinely believe the hypnobirthing worked for me. Even Dan, who was a bit skeptical about the whole thing, was completely amazed with how much it made a difference.
I’d love to hear if any of you guys did hypnobirthing – did it help you? And also, this is my absolute favourite topic to talk about, so if you have any more questions about the whole thing, leave them in the comments too!