Every time I watch a movie or a TV show that shows a woman giving birth, it looks pretty traumatic. She’s screaming, sweating and has her legs up around her ears. Her partner is often looking on in horror with a brow furrowed down to his nose. A doctor is usually around, braced and ready to catch the baby as though she giving birth to something travelling faster than the speed of sound. I kept thinking, does it really have to be like this?
When I first started researching birth options, I kept coming across this word ‘hypnobirthing.’ If I’m honest, the name didn’t do much for me at first. It triggered images of an aging hypnotist coming into my room before I gave birth, dangling a watch that swung backwards and forwards. I can definitely tell you now, hypnobirthing does not involve any dangling watches.
The more research I did however, the more I kept reading about people who had used this technique. So, I decided to find out a bit more. I was surprised to find it isn’t a new flashy trend in the birthing world. It is actually a research-based method that has been around for decades.
So what is hypnobirthing? I am no expert, so the best place to look is here for more comprehensive information. I can give you a summary of what I got from the program, which is basically a birth education class. I learned information about what happens to a woman’s body as she gives birth; I learned about what choices I had; I was given a set of relaxation techniques that I could use during birth; I had tangible ideas to use, from birthing positions, visualizations and ways to breathe. As a first-time parent, I wanted to prepare and be informed. In reality, I didn’t even know what questions I needed to ask in order to prepare. Our HypnoBirthing class gave us information about what options we had, so that we could ask the right questions. We became confident in being able to advocate for ourselves during a time that had the potential to be pretty intense.
The other thing that I took from my experience was that my husband was part of it all. We did the classes together and by the end, he had a bag of tricks that we could try if I was finding the birth challenging at any point.
HypnoBirthing isn’t going to be for everyone, but I will say that you can take from it what you want. Personally, there was too much ‘homework’ for me. I didn’t read the entire book and I didn’t listen to the relaxation tracks everyday. At the time, I was working full time and didn’t have much energy in the evenings. This didn’t impact what we took away from the classes each week though. One other thing that I was aware of when doing the classes was that a lot of the material was focused on the negatives of hospital births. This was admittedly countered by our instructor, who gave a much more balanced presentation and had a more open-minded approach. We were grateful for this as we had planned a hospital birth (and in the end had a very positive experience!)
One last thing to be aware of when considering HypnoBirthing is that the price for the classes can vary. We weren’t able to get it covered on our health insurance, which does not make it as accessible as it could be.
We took a huge amount from our HypnoBirthing classes and I will use what we learned if we ever have another baby. We took classes through GentleSurge with Maria here in Madison and had a really positive experience with her. She created such a warm, open and understanding environment to learn in. Not only does she do the classes, but Maria gives a lot of postpartum support too.
Has anyone else done HypnoBirthing? I would be happy to answer any questions anyone might have. Or have you tried any other birthing techniques that you would recommend?