I had a fantastic opportunity to talk to 100 midwives at Coventry University last week. The day had many fantastic speakers talking about holistic care for women and how midwives must look after their own wellbeing enabling them to effectively care for the women and families; hence the title of the day was ‘We Are Only Human’.
My chosen topic was Humanity, Midwifery and Hypnobirthing. This is a huge topic so I had to focus on just a couple of areas related to hypnobirthing: language and the power of breathing in labour. Although a fantastic day this blog isn’t about my presentation, it is about the feedback I received from clients whilst planning this event, about their experience of hypnobirthing and whether they would recommend it to other women.
This blog is their words, not mine, but demonstrated to me the benefit using hypnobirthing has had on all their birthing experiences, from the positive birth to the incredibly traumatic.
In brief, between them the group of women had every birthing journey possible from spontaneous labour and birth with no intervention, to spontaneous labour and birth with medical intervention, to induction and caesarean section, planned and emergency. All the women had a hospital birth, and some used a variety of medical forms of pain relief, whether it be TENS machines, Oramorph, pethidine, gas & air, birthing pool and/or epidurals to support them through their journey. The use of medical pain relief varied greatly.
Each woman used hypnobirthing techniques that worked for them, but all found that the power of focusing the mind and using breathing techniques was of huge benefit, regardless of the mode of birth. Other techniques used were Relaxations, Visualisations, Affirmations, Knowledge of active birthing, their partner being the advocate and gatekeeper with the knowledge of hypnobirthing techniques and language they had been practising.
I asked what words they would use to describe their birth experience… Calm, supported, informed, confident, comfortable, relaxed and traumatic were the responses.
Despite such a huge variety of experiences my main question was whether they would recommend hypnobirthing to other women and whether they would suggest anything to student midwives. Interestingly, all the women said that they would recommend hypnobirthing! Here are some of those responses:
“Yes! I went into it thinking I had nothing to lose and ended up thinking it was great. Practising the breathing and visualisations made me feel relaxed because I was doing something proactive to help with the birth, and on the day, it helped me stay calm and enter a focused, relaxed state. The midwife said I breathed our baby out! It was key to have done the sessions with my husband as he encouraged me to practise and ensured I remained focused and felt in control.”
“Yes, I found hypnobirthing techniques were something I was in control of and benefited from using the techniques during labour. Especially at times when we were left alone and were not really sure what to do. Even though I ended up having an emergency c-section, up to that point I used the breathing techniques with my contractions and found I was managing the pain well. I think even in the emergency situation I remained calm and during the c-section I closed my eyes and used visualisation of my health and my baby’s.”
“Yes, would definitely recommend to all expectant parents”
“Hypnobirthing really helped me and my husband before, during and after birth. We did not have the birth we wanted but it helped us to stay calm and informed throughout the process. First, it helped to conquer my fear of hospitals (I was induced so I was there for 4 days, calm and relaxed before anything happened). Then, during labour I used breathing, relaxation and visualisation techniques to stay positive and calm. Finally, when we realised we won’t be having the birth we wanted, we still stayed calmed and informed which made the whole experience positive. Even with medical interventions.”
“Definitely. When I was able to go into my own place with breathing and ignore where I was it was brilliant. Unfortunately, being in hospital was the last thing I wanted, and all the interventions were what I had said I didn’t want. I feel like the people involved and the clinical environment made everything traumatic for me but being able to breath and ignore people absolutely helped.”
“YES and I have done to all of my friends expecting!”
“Yes – I probably would but stress the need to practice a lot. My contractions got intense very quickly so didn’t have much ‘quiet’ time to really do many of the hypnobirthing techniques. I think it could help other mums more than me if they have a longer time with few contractions. I’d just say to anyone be prepared for things to go off plan and don’t be rigid with your plans.”
A couple of the women offered this information for midwives:
“I would implore all student midwives to be open minded and on board with hypnobirthing as it was the most incredible and surreal experience of my life! They need to use the right language and offer a holistic approach to a mummy to be during labour and most importantly to look after those people chosen to support the mummy throughout. I found all but one of the midwives on incredible while having the water birth I had dreamt and practiced for with aromatherapy, ice lollies, lightning, music, little intervention; leaving me to it as much as possible and gentle encouragement at the end. They looked after my husband and mother in making sure they were comfortable and had eaten and drank which gave them the strength to stay by my side for a rather epic 24hrs of established labour. We all have our own stories of giving birth to our children but mine was purely magical and that was thanks to the power of hypnobirthing.”
“Give the mother the space, darkness and quiet she needs to be comfortable. Constant questions and noise are not nice for a birthing environment. I don’t know why everything went so wrong with my birth, but I do believe it was partly because all of my choices were taken from me. I was constantly told what I had to be doing and told that my plans were not possible. I feel I was forced to have drugs etc that I didn’t want and the whole experience made my body stop doing what it should have done hence the baby couldn’t come out naturally.”
One mum even sang my praises after attending a hypnobirthing workshop and then having twins 🙂
“Helen, your knowledge and teaching was amazing. Helped me hugely. Much much more than my midwife. You gave confidence to be in control and to ask the right questions to medical staff. To have the knowledge of how everything works and how you can help yourself and how being calm and breathing etc can really really help to relax. Medical staff tend to treat it as a job..and as a patient it can be scary…but when you work together and feel like equals and have some care and time and have the midwife understand the mum getting in the zone..that is hugely beneficial.”
Thank you very much.
I hope that this blog speaks for itself without me having to add things to it.
I have found the feedback from clients moving and really empowering, the work I do every day has benefited them in some way regardless of how their babies came into the world.
Hypnobirthing is something that can clearly help women during pregnancy, labour and birth and if you are considering it there appears to be no disadvantages to using it. The golden key is to practise, practise and practise.
Wishing all those expectant mums a positive birth, whichever way your baby comes to meet you. Be prepared for your journey x
Antenatal and Hypnobirthing Educator