Hypnobirthing techniques can be so useful in the run up to, and during birth, and that’s because of the science of birth and the hormones involved. The more relaxed your mind is, the more likely you are to have a smooth, uncomplicated labour.
That’s because birth is right back to human basics, and quite often our ‘thinking brain’ gets in the way! If we overthink we can trigger our fight-or-flight (adrenaline) response which can slow down or even stop labour. What we want is a calm, relaxed body and mind to allow for the flow of the love hormone oxytocin, the hormone responsible for moving those uterus muscles, allowing your baby into the world.
So what can we do to help relax the mind in preparation for labour?
We’ve heard enough negative things about birth from films and in the media – as well as stories from Linda up the road! And what does Linda know about your body??
Engaging in more positive information about birth can help to balance out the mind so it’s less anxious. This can help you to make decisions based on facts and not fear.
1. Say ‘no’ to negative birth stories
First of all: no toxic positivity here! Birth trauma exists and all birth stories are valid. BUT that person’s story is not yours. Saying ‘no thanks’ to the negative, and embracing the positive can help adjust your mindset so much. Let those who want to tell you stories know that you’re reading positive birth stories, ‘and that’s really helping thanks!’ Hopefully then they’ll go no further. The fact is, is the person in the story is not you! So it really doesn’t help to know all the details.
2. Read positive birth stories / watch positive videos
Just to be clear, a positive birth story can be an all-natural home birth, but it can also be an induction, assisted delivery or cesarean. Reading (and / or watching) a range of positive birth stories can open up your mind to the possibilities, and give you an idea of what birth can really be like.
3. Hypnobirthing MP3’s
Much like meditations, self-hypnosis or relaxation MP3’s can really help you to feel more confident and calm about birth. They often take you through a journey, or talk about birth in a positive way to slowly change that mindset. It’s great to listen to them at night, so your subconscious can really take it on board. And don’t worry, it’s completely normal to think about something random when you’re listening, just try come back to the words when you can and it always adds value.
Practicing a calming breathing technique can help settle down your bodies’ stress reaction if you’re feeling tense. Breathe in through your nose, filling your lungs to the count of 4. Then breathe out slowly and calmly through your mouth to around the count of 7. Doing this for a couple of minutes can help calm down your nervous system.
5. Be in-the-know / investigate your fear
If you have something in particular in your mind that you want to avoid, perhaps from a previous experience or a story from a friend – research it. If you have knowledge around the subject, chances are it becomes a lot less scary, or at least something you can feel more confident about saying no to. Some great websites to get evidence-based information are: sarawickham.com, aims.org.uk, birthrights.org.uk and evidencebasedbirth.com.
6. Positive affirmations / Affirmation cards
Positive affirmations help to re-enforce a particular thing in your mind for birth. It could be encouragement, reminding you of why you’re doing this, or a reminder about your calm breathing and letting go of your muscles anything you connect with! You could put them up around your home during pregnancy so you see them as you walk past, or stick them up during labour.
Anchoring is a great technique for relaxation! It’s all about muscle-memory and getting something into your routine (or using something you already do) to instigate a calm mind and relaxed body. Smell is connected to your memory centre of the brain, and so smells can help to trigger a relaxed state. If you love lavender, for example, using it right up to and then during labour means you will start to relax as soon as you smell it. Same with all of your senses too! If you like a particular colour, fabric, music or food then try your best to recreate that for labour.
Visualisation is something a lot of business-people, sports-people and actors do to achieve their goals. It’s okay to visualised that ideal birth you have in your mind. It can really help to understand what it is you want from your birth, what you might need to do or discuss to achieve that, and what you might be able to achieve from your birth preferences if things don’t go to plan. Visualise being your most calm and confident self through every surge, see yourself meeting your baby… repeat this to yourself and reaffirm that this is just what will happen…
Finally, these techniques can take PRACTICE.
Chances are they won’t just work immediately, they will probably need integrating into your routine. They’re also useful for life! You can calm yourself before scans or any consultant appointments… even when you have a new baby. if you have a day where they’re crying a lot and you feel stressed you can use these techniques to calm yourself. The same thing applies when they get older!!