An honest take from a hypnobirthing teacher…
Of course, I think hypnobirthing is worth it! But I can also see why this question is asked a lot.
Sometimes, hypnobirthing is portrayed as a type of calm, quiet, serene birth. It could look like this, but birth can also be loud, powerful, and messy – it can look many ways.
I don’t think of hypnobirthing as a type of birth but rather as a toolkit to help you find your strength, whatever your birth looks like.
This might mean not just looking towards a calm, serene labour but also a powerful, instinctual experience.
Birth can have twists and turns, and we need to acknowledge both the power and capability of the body AND accept that medical intervention is needed from time to time (whilst health care professionals uphold your dignity and listen to and respect your wishes).
Nobody can pigeonhole your experience into one type of birth – you are who you are, and your birth will be unique to you.
What are the benefits of hypnobirthing?
There are so many choices with labour and birth that it seems like a minefield. Researching your preferences and speaking to the right people could open doors to new options you might not have thought of and point out what matters to you.
It can be so good to feel prepared for many eventualities and empowered with the knowledge and understanding of what your body does and is capable of. Feeling calm knowing your choices and rights in childbirth can also help you gain a feeling of control. Knowing the legalities of informed consent and the right to respect and dignity can help reduce the chance of trauma.
You might also feel like you can ask more detailed and personalised questions if you have enough information.
Learning to self-advocate means backing up your preferences with evidence, whilst using your background to explain individual need and having some support.
Birth partners are integral to the birth experience. Having a consistent, confident and supportive birth partner can mean better outcomes for birther and baby. Doing a course together can help you get on the same page and be able to mention preferences to healthcare professionals.
Some hypnobirthing classes (primarily in-person) support your learning process, so you can ask questions as you go along. It also means you have an impartial ear to listen to any worries and some guidance to reliable information (without going on a Google deep-dive).
Learning to stay calm can be handy for many situations if you want to labour at home for as long as possible, if you need to make decisions, if you’re going into an induction or caesarean—all situations where some self-soothing might be needed.
Feeling scared and apprehensive when it comes to labour is so common. Part of hypnobirthing is working on a positive mindset (in a non-toxic way) to help you feel confident and remind yourself of what you’re in control of.
So, does hypnobirthing ‘work’?
There are some research papers on whether using hypnosis techniques actually works for labour and birth, and more recently the use of mindfulness and affirmations too. The research suggests positive outcomes when it comes to birth satisfaction, sense of control and overall better experiences.
One study says:
“In our study, all the women thought that mental preparation should be an integral part of the antenatal classes offered by the public health service. Their positive experiences with the techniquemade them want other women to also have the best foundation for a good birth expereience.
The antenatal classes made them aware of the potential challenges they might face. Coming to terms with the inevitable uncertainty of childbirth can bring a sense of peace and thereby an acceptance that what happens, happens. Women can then start working on their belief that they will be able to cope with what happens. ” (Uldal et al 2023)
The truth is, there’s no guarantee of any particular type of birth. Birth is a miraculous natural physiological process- it just happens! But sometimes, bodies and babies do have different ideas. Hypnobirthing (with the right teacher!) is an incredible way of learning how to cope with the challenges of labour and accept some uncertainty, along with understanding the astonishing power of the female body.