Hey there! In this episode of The Virtual Midwife Podcast, I introduce you to the principles of hypnobirthing. This is episode 1 of 10 so make sure you subscribe so that you don’t miss the series!
In episode 1, I’ll be discussing the benefits of hypnobirthing, including reducing the likelihood of interventions, and creating a more positive and empowered birth experience. It’s important to understand both non-medical and medical techniques and tools available during labor, and I’ll be sharing all of that with you.
What is hypnobirthing?
At its core, hypnobirthing is a form of education or teaching that emphasizes the power of relaxation, self-hypnosis, and positive visualization techniques that will help your labor progress more easily and smoothly.
And before you dismiss that as being too far out, consider this that birth is actually a natural physiological and very instinctive process that our bodies are designed to do, but we’ve been conditioned to fear it or to view it as something that’s inherently painful, scary, or of being out of control, and that is out of control.
Hypnobirthing will help you to shift that mindset and give you the tools that you need to trust in your body’s ability. Its natural ability to birth without relying on interventions or medications that can actually make the process more difficult. Now, once again, before you think, oh, but I want medication, it’s not about saying if I’m doing hypnobirthing, I can’t have it.
What if I want an epidural?
Because right now, if you’ve never heard of it and you don’t know much about either hypnobirthing or just birthing, then you’re probably thinking, well, give me all the drugs. Give me the epidural, give me everything that there possibly is. Hypnobirthing doesn’t say you can’t use those. It says go back one step and learn about what actually causes the pain of childbirth.
What actually happens in your body that feels so intense? What happens in labor and what pain management and comfort techniques are available both non-medical and medical? And an important part for me of hypnobirthing is learning to understand both the non-medical and medical techniques and tools that are available.
Because the medical ones are like your safety net, especially if you are currently very fearful and skeptical. You want to go into it knowing that in the event that hypnobirthing isn’t for you, you still have those medical techniques available to you.
Manage your expectations
And even if you do go into hypno birthing and you get into labor and you think, this isn’t kind of what I thought it was going to be, it’s not enough and hypnobirthing just isn’t working for me, well, subconsciously, you know that those medical safety nets are there.
They’re always available to you. It’s a bit like all the training that you would do if you were going to climb Kilimanjaro. Maybe you wanted to do it unassisted with no oxygen, and you get to three quarters of teh way up and you realize that actually you’re really out of breath and your oxygen levels are low and your Sherpa offers you a tank of oxygen, you’d use it because you want to get to the top.
And it’s exactly the same with childbirth. Manage your expectations as well as your understanding of exactly what it is that is happening.
The principles of Hypnobirthing
So let’s talk about the principles behind hypnobirthing because at its core, it’s based on the idea that our thoughts and our emotions have a profound impact on our physical bodies.
When we are feeling stressed, anxious, or fearful, our bodies tend to tense up and produce adrenaline. Now, you know that adrenaline is the so-called fight or flight response, and this response can actually inhibit your body’s natural production of oxytocin.
Oxytocin is the hormone that helps to initiate and to progress labor. So we don’t want anything getting in the way of the release and the flow of oxytocin in labor, especially if that thing is fear and anxiety. Because when we are feeling relaxed, calm, and positive, our bodies tend to produce more oxytocin, which can help the labors progress more easily and efficiently.
And in response to the release of oxytocin, your body also releases endorphins, which are your own pain relieving hormones, and that will help to guide and assist you by taking you into an altered state of consciousness, which we commonly refer to as being “in the zone”.
What techniques will I learn?
So with that in mind, hypnobirthing birthing teaches you how to enter into a state of deep relaxation and focus during labor. And you will learn to use techniques like breathing, visualization, and affirmations. And by doing these, they help to keep your body in a state of calm and minimize that stress response and that release of adrenaline, the fight or flight hormone, and minimize the fear that might get in the way or inhibit the progress of your labor.
There’s so many benefits to using hypnobirthing during birth, both for you and for your baby. For one thing, hypnobirthing can help to reduce the likelihood of other interventions, one of them being an epidural, which is the kind of the Mick Jagger of pain relief because it is the one that takes away all sensation.
In other words, you feel nothing at all. But it is a double edged sword because if you feel nothing at all, you are unable to respond. And part of being able to work with your baby during labor is by working with the sensations that you’re experiencing and moving into different positions that the passage of your baby through your body. And if you’re having an epidural and you’re unable to move and respond, then it means that it may take a little bit longer, as well as the fact that having an epidural is a very medical intervention.
The cascade of interventions
And so it means that you will also need other medical interventions is very high on what we call a cascade of interventions because you’re not able to respond, because we don’t know how your baby is responding to the drugs that are used with an epidural. You will need to be monitored more closely and you become a very reactive participants in your birth rather than being proactive. Now, I’ll be talking about epidurals in another podcast episode, so I don’t want to get too deep into that.
Really, today is about talking about the principles of hypno birthing and why it works, how it can help you to reduce the amount of pain or discomfort that you might be feeling during labor. And in saying that, I want to also state that part of your hypnobirthing training would be learning about the words that are commonly used in hospitals and with healthcare providers.
And of course, pain is one of those. And what you’re going to be doing is learning to change that association, which is very often of pain being something that is an indication of something being wrong because you’ve stubbed your toe or you’ve hurt your back, or you have a toothache.
And understanding that the pain of labor is actually an indication that everything is right, that your labor is progressing exactly as it should, that the sensations you are experiencing are part of the labor progress and telling you and indicating that your body is changing and opening up to allow your baby out, and you will be guided to change the word from pain to sensation.
Changing the words you use
In this episode, you will hear me using both words because while I do teach you to change that word to sensation, it’s important to remember that when you get to the hospital, they may not have been to a hypnobirthing course.
They may not even believe in hypnobirthing and see it as something that is woowoo and crunchy, and they won’t be talking about sensation medication. They will be referring to pain medication. They may even go as far as asking you how many pains you’re having or how far apart the pains are.
And you want to be able to subconsciously and immediately change that in your mind when you’re hearing it to sensation.
Hypnobirthing can really help you to create a more positive and empowered birth experience because when you feel like you’re in control of your body and your birth, you are way more likely to feel confident, strong, and capable, regardless of how your birth unfolds.
Thank you for listening to this episode of the Virtual Midwife Podcast, and I truly hope that you found it inspiring and informative. If you want to continue the conversation and come along and connect with me and other expecting parents in my community, the Due Date Club, this is a safe and supportive space where you can share your experiences.
You can ask questions and get guidance from myself, other members, and a team of experts that I’ve brought together to support you. Just visit the website, the Due Date Club, and click on the tab to get started. If you enjoyed this podcast, I’d be so grateful if you could share it with your friends that anybody you think would benefit from this information.
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