When someone is in a situation where they are scared or fearful (for some this can be labour) the body can go into ‘fight or flight mode’. This fear will force adrenaline around your body, which will cause your body to tense up and it will restrict the flow of blood around the body. Should this happen in labour, the muscles of your uterus will not work as well, because they are deprived of blood and oxygen. This can make labour harder and longer. Your baby will be getting less oxygen too.
Tension and fear, will stop oxytocin – the hormone that eases labour – to be released and you will also produce fewer of the natural hormones (endorphins) which numb pain and help you feel good. As a result you will probably have a hard labour.
Hypnobirthing is a tried and tested method that prepares a woman in giving birth in a peaceful and natural way, often without the need for medical intervention. Women who hypnobirth learn special breathing techniques, relaxation, visualisation and meditative practice that help them stay relaxed in labour, and as a result tend to have an easier and shorter labour.
Hypnobirthing classes will teach you and your partner:
- Positions for labour and birth. Staying in an upright position can help to shorten the length of your labour.
- Deep relaxation and self-hypnosis. These methods can help you to stay alert, but at the same time shut out the world and focus on your body.
- Breathing techniques. Ensure your blood and your baby has high levels of oxygen.
The ideal time to start classes is any time after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This will allow you ample time to practise. If you’re already past this stage, don’t be put off. You can still benefit from classes in your last weeks of pregnancy, if you can manage to set time aside to do the techniques.
Birthing partners are welcome to classes. Birth partners can sometimes feel outside the experience of labour and birth. They may be there in the room with you as you labour, but find it hard to understand what you’re going through.
In hypnobirthing classes, your partner will learn alongside you. You will both learn breathing, relaxation and visualisation techniques, which you should do together at home. You should pracise the techniques regularly in the latter stages of pregnancy so that it’s easy for you to bring them to mind when you need them.
Once labour starts, keeping focused can help you and your partner stay as close as you can to your birth plan. You’ll need to think calmly if labour doesn’t go as expected, and you need medical help to give birth.