When you hear the word ‘hypnosis’ it’s likely that the first thing that springs to mind is a swinging pendulum and a complete loss of control, which is naturally scary, but ‘hypnobirthing’ is far from it.
With a focus on creating a positive birthing experience for pregnant women, hypnobirthing has been proven by science to help everything from relaxation to pain relief, to shorter birth times, to empowerment and speeding up contraction times.
In short, a dreamy birth experience (hopefully!).
A lot less ‘woo woo’ than you think, ‘hypnobirthing’ involves a type of ‘self-hypnosis’ so to speak that centres on self-care, relaxation and holistic practises designed to gift you a positive childbirth.
To understand it in more depth, Sporteluxe spoke with Kate Fraser, of Mindful Breathing Sydney a qualified Hypnobirthing Australia™ practitioner to understand how it works, what it involves and how women can have the best birth ever.
What does hypnobirthing involve exactly?
“I remember when I first heard the term hypnobirthing and thinking it sounds a bit ‘out there’—but it’s really just an umbrella term for a ‘positive birth.’ The main outcome being to give you a fantastic start to preparing you for the birth of your baby, combining techniques and philosophies that have been around for years with modern theory,” says Fraser.
“In my course, there is 12 hours of face-to-face time learning privately or in a group. We cover physiology and the stages of labour, as well as a combination of deep relaxation, self-hypnosis, massage, acupressure, and specific breathing techniques.”
“There is also a brief touch on special circumstances and medical assistance, and teach various ways partners can be involved during the birth, so that together the mother and birth partner can feel not only prepared, but excited about the birth of the baby,” says Fraser.
Where does the whole ‘hypnosis’ part come in?
“The ‘hypno’ in hypnobirthing does refer to certain hypnotherapy techniques that are used to help let go of fears and to condition ourselves to release endorphins (the feel-good hormones) during birth,” explains Fraser.
“While there are lots of misconceptions about self-hypnosis—we tend to think it’s all swinging watches and clucking like chickens– it’s actually just a state we go in and out of all the time. For example, you know the feeling you get when you’re lost in a good book or driving somewhere on autopilot? It’s essentially the same. While it can sound confusing or off-putting, it’s not actually about someone hypnotising you while you’re giving birth, but rather about getting yourself into a state of deep, relaxed focus.”
What sets hypnobirthing apart from other methods?
“When I fell pregnant in 2017, I already had friends who had experienced traumatic births and hearing their stories, as well as seeing images of women giving birth on their backs, screaming I realised I needed to address my fear around giving birth, so after having a friend who had a beautiful and calm birth experience through Hypnobirthing Australia™, I gave it a go,” says Fraser.
“It was so positive and empowering and provided up-to-date, evidence-based information while giving birth partners practical tools and techniques to support the mother too and has a deep focus on a positive birth, regardless of whether the mother chooses all-natural or ends up needing medical intervention.”
What are the benefits of a hypnobirth?
“The main benefit for the mum is a calm, positive labour and for the bub—a calm entry into the world,” says Fraser.
“The course empowers parents to play an active role in the lead-up and the birth and to make informed decisions along the way, which in turn helps create a positive experience.”
Additionally, complementary therapies like the techniques taught in the Hypnobirthing Australia™ program have been shown to reduce the need for pain medication and epidurals, reduces the use of synthetic hormones to augment labour and instead strengthens and speeds up contractions and allows the bub to be born alert and ready to bond and feed in that magical time immediately following birth,” says Fraser.
Other science-backed benefits include:
- Self-empowerment: a study published in the Journal of Perinatal Education found hypnobirthing allows a woman to harness her own inner strength, providing her with the empowerment needed to deliver (even without the support of a partner).
- A less complicated childbirth: a study found that women who did hypnobirthing experienced less psychosocial factors experienced with traumatic childbirth, including reduced anxiety, stress and fear (often found to complicate the labor process).