Does hypnobirthing work?
Research has shown that hypnobirthing can help to reduce fear and pain, and offers an increased sense of control during labour. It can also help with anxiety, and reduce the need for medical interventions, for an improved birth experience.
Here are some of the reasons that you might choose to try hypnobirthing:
- Hypnobirthing can help you manage stress and reduce anxiety, which may lead to a calmer birth. During labour, your body creates a chemical called oxytocin, which helps progress your labour. Stress hormones affect the production of oxytocin. This can make your labour longer.
- Getting a handle on your stress may also help to reduce some of the fear and pain during labour.
- In some cases, hypnobirthing and using relaxation techniques have been shown to make labour shorter.
- Practising hypnobirthing, whether it is at a class, with a book or online, may help you to feel more prepared and in control when labour starts.
- It may help you cope with worry if you had a previous traumatic birth experience.
- Hypnobirthing may reduce the need for drugs and medical intervention, although not all studies have found this. You can use hypnobirthing techniques along with other methods of pain relief if you want to.
- It can be added to any birth preference plan and the techniques can be used whether you give birth in a hospital, a birth centre, or at home.
- Hypnobirthing may be good for you after birth too. Some studies show it may increase your sense of wellbeing as a new parent.
- Hypnobirthing can help your birth partner to play a more active role during labour.
"I found helping my partner give birth using hypnobirthing very rewarding. Learning the techniques meant I was able to talk her through the wave of each contraction, reminding her to stay focused and relaxed and that she was in control of the experience. It made so much difference being able to do something positive during her labour and to see her managing the pain herself."
Are there disadvantages to hypnobirthing?
Practising hypnobirthing does not mean your labour will go smoothly. Although, learning to relax and stay calm may help you feel more in control if things do not go to plan.
Hypnobirthing can be so relaxing, a midwife may think you are at an earlier stage of labour than you are. When you are in active labour, and talking to them on the phone or in person, be clear that you are using hypnobirthing techniques.
Most hypnobirthing classes and courses are run privately, and can be quite costly. There are plenty of free hypnobirthing podcasts and courses online, though. In some areas of the UK, NHS classes are run by midwives, as part of their antenatal care.
As with any practice it takes time to master the techniques. If you do not practise it often, you may not get as much from it as you had hoped.
"We read a book and listened to audio meditation tapes but they didn’t work as we really didn’t commit any time to it."