When people ask me what I do for a living and I tell them I run an online hypnobirthing school, often I get a perplexed look, which makes me smile. Many of the same questions or misconceptions come up again and again, so it’s time to bust some myths!
1. Hypnobirthing guarantees you a ‘natural birth’
Firstly all births are natural, whether you have a vaginal birth without intervention, a caesarean birth or a birth that has involved an epidural – it’s natural. And unfortunately hypnobirthing can’t guarantee you a birth without intervention. However, a colleague of mine put it so well when she said ‘hypnobirthing stacks the odds in your favour,’ for creating the most positive birth experience possible by sharing tools and information that allow you to navigate all of the many different paths your birth might take. So you’ll feel confident, knowledgeable and empowered with the choices you make regardless of how your baby chooses to enter into the world.
2. Hypnobirthing is about being a hippy.
Although, the name can sound a bit ‘out there’ for people who are not familiar with it, the principles of hypnobirthing are all based on the biology of the human body. We teach how the body’s ability to birth effectively is impacted when we release adrenaline, which happens when a woman feels scared, confused or under threat; alongside the strategies that can help to prevent that happening to you. It’s all about the science!!
3. You will be put under a spell.
Lots of women and partners initially fear they are going to be out of control if they hypnobirth as images of crazy stage shows with people clucking like chickens or barking like dogs spring to mind. This couldn’t be further from what self-hypnosis or hypnobirthing is about. Self-hypnosis is a natural state of consciousness that everyone drifts in and out of all the time, the two times you’ll be most familiar with are when you are just waking up or drifting off to sleep. That in-between state where you’re not so concerned with what is going on around you, but if you had to jump out of bed quickly because someone had shouted ‘FIRE’ you would be up in a second. You always know exactly what is going on and can choose whether or not you wish to engage with the people who are supporting you at all times.
4. You have to want to homebirth.
Although hypnobirthing is a fantastic tool for women looking to homebirth, it is not only helpful for women who want to birth outside of hospital. Hypnobirthing works EVERYWHERE, whether you choose to birth at home, in hospital, at a birth centre or even in a taxi! Positive hypnobirths are not about prescriptive experiences.
5. My partner won’t be into it.
Partners, especially men, can be quite skeptical about hypnobirthing classes at the start, but often turn into the biggest advocates. My husband certainly falls into that category. Why? Because the tools that are taught are common sense, practical and very tangible. The other great benefit for partners, is hypnobirthing gives them a very defined support role during both your pregnancy and labour and that’s incredibly helpful for both of you.
6. Hypnobirthing promises a pain free birth
I wish I could guarantee you pain free experiences, but alas I can’t! Why? Pain is a subjective thing and what one woman calls painful is another woman’s walk in the park. While it is definitely true that many hypnobirthing women talk about birthing in complete comfort, some women roar like lionesses from the intense sensations they feel. Both experiences are hypnobirths there are no rules and no one can guarantee what category you will fall into.
7. Feeling scared is part of birth
Because of what hypnobirthing Mums learn during their pregnancy they often go into birth feeling calm, positive and even excited about what they are about to experience. This massively impacts the body’s ability to birth more effeciently. As when a women is calm and relaxed, she produces more of the hormone oxytocin, which allows her to surge more effectively, whilst simultaneously acting as a natural reliever for any pain she might be feeling. Going into labour feeling calm and being able to stay calm and positive during birth starts with preparation during pregnancy and hypnobirthing provides the practical tools to enable women to do that
8. Hypnobirthing stops you from working with doctors and midwives
In the past people have pitted hypnobirthing families against consultants, obstetricians and midwives. Hypnobirthing isn’t about 'us vs them'. What hypnobirthing will do is share techniques and ways of communicating with your care team that help you to feel informed, empowered and confident about dealing with any situation that may be presented to you during your pregnancy and birth.
9. You’re not allowed to think negative thoughts when hypnobirthing
If you have negative thoughts or feelings about birth it’s really important to acknowledge these during your pregnancy so you can address them and then let them go. When a woman buries her concerns, pretending they aren’t there, these fears will inevitably rise to the surface at some point – not uncommonly during labour. Hypnobirthing provides women with the perfect opportunity to address these fears and learn how to release them for good.
10. Hypnobirthing is just about the birth
No! While the birth is part of it, it is ‘just’ a part. The preparation you do in your pregnancy will help to connect you and your birth partner at an even deeper level when it comes to thinking about your birth and how they are going to be able to support you during the rest of your pregnancy and labour. Hypnobirthing makes you take time out of your busy life to reflect on the amazing job you’re doing growing the little human being within, whilst teaching you how to become an expert in navigating difficult or stressful situations calmly and with ease so you can create the positive birth experience you desire. Once you’ve had your baby all of these skills become even more important when getting to know your newborn. So the skills you have learnt during your pregnancy for your birth are in fact tools for life.