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Hypnobirthing: everything you need to know

Celebrities including Kate Middleton and Jessica Alba have used hynotherapy to help them cope during childbirth. Keen to more about it, we talked to experts at Underwood Baby Academy in Surrey.

Celebrities including Kate Middleton and Jessica Alba have used hynotherapy to help during childbirth. Keen to more, we talked to experts at Underwood Baby Academy in Surrey.

There’s no doubt that having a baby is among the most magical and momentous and most life changing events for a family.

But getting from beautiful bump to beautiful baby can be hard – aside from the physical logistics, the fear and the pain of labour is very real.

But as the wellness industry continues to grow, more and more women are ditching the drugs and turning to more natural birthing options. And hypnobirthing is an increasingly popular option.

Kate Middleton is a huge fan, saying she used hypnobirthing techniques to help her cope with the severe morning sickness during her third pregnancy as well as finding it ‘hugely powerful’ during labour. Celebrities Jessica Alba, Gisele Bündchen and Angeline Jolie have also used hypnobirthing.

But what exactly is hypnobirthing? And how can it help?

We consulted midwife Sally Underwood at the Underwood Baby Academy, a Surrey-based organisation that helps supports women and families through their journey from bump to birth and beyond including classes in antenatal hypnobirthing.

pregnant woman

What exactly is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing enables a woman to work with her body which is naturally designed to give birth. It equips women with the tools required for their best birth. Tools which help to release the fear and negativity that we have been programmed with from an early age and replace it with a calm confidence.

How does hypnobirthing help?

It provides you with the following:

  • Choice
  • Control
  • Confidence
  • Calmness
  • Comfort – factors for positive birth practice, where baby is born, when baby is born and who is with mum at birth.

Hypnobirthing is not stage hypnosis. It works with words – which are so important. We are all very aware of how the addition of just a little word within a sentence, can have such a huge difference to what is being said – example – do you work? or are you JUST a housewife! Do you STILL ski? Our language has an effect upon how we act. By listening to relaxations and positive things we are made to feel more positive.  A mother who uses hypnobirthing will often say that giving birth was the most wonderful and empowering experience of her life.  

It also works by observing that all mammals have basic needs during labour and birth – 2 of those are to feel safe and unobserved. We instinctively go where we feel safe.

Does this mean I can give birth without pain?

We see birth as – ‘baby getting out’ but most of birth is – body opening to ‘allow baby out’. The uterus consists of strong muscles – circular and long muscles. The circular ones keep baby in and need to be pulled up by the long ones during labour. Long muscles pull up and pull on the round muscles of the uterine cervix.

Pain is caused by these muscles working so hard together. Examples win arms with Usually muscular pain happens the day following – eg a marathon. If our muscles are free to move, then they move more freely and less painfully.

Hypnobirthing relies also upon us understanding the different sides of our brains:

  • The conscious part – the way that we are programmed to respond to fear/danger is when our sympathetic side is working and our adrenalin levels are high;
  • The unconscious side, which works when we are happy and confident, when our parasympathetic side is working.

This is the system of calm and it’s when our bodies produce oxytocin, the love hormone and the system that helps us do what our bodies are perfectly designed to do.

We cannot produce adrenaline and oxytocin together. The conscious mind gets in the way during labour. All we need to do is learn how best to relax and get ‘it’ out of the way and let labour work without the need for intervention/analgesia ….. so we should have a less painful birth!

Will I still be aware of what’s happening during labour?

You and your partner will feel very much aware of what is happening. You will feel completely involved and will be so informed of your birth journey – you will be able to make your own choices for your optimum birth experience.

How can I learn hypnobirthing techniques?

At Underwood Baby Academy, we teach Katharine Graves hypnobirthing, which is simple, logical yet very profound. You learn the techniques to practice alongside the more conventional antenatal education training programme.  This is a truly short summary to help you understand the basics of why hypnobirthing can work. We at the UB academy offer 2 different methods of teaching – either face to face small group classes or virtual sessions. The earlier you start to practice relaxation techniques, having confidence, learning about the process of labour, your options and the value of positive affirmations, alongside the value of reducing your stress levels, the better for you and your baby.

Though mothers come to hypnobirthing for a calm and gentle birth for themselves remember that is also means a calm and gentle birth for your baby. A baby who enters the world drug free and alert to be greeted by a mother who is alert, loving and confident, starts life and forms its first relationship in this world in the best possible way. This is the blueprint for all other relationships it forms throughout its life and so has an affect on all the people it meets. The significance of this cannot be over emphasised.  

newborn baby

The Underwood Baby Academy offers face-to-face and online in hypnobirthing classes. The cost is £210 per couple (members) or £245 a couple (non-members) for the weekend workshop held over two Saturday mornings at the Natural Baby Shower in Bagshot. The virtual Zoom sessions are held weekly over four evenings and are £144 per couple (members) or £200 (non-members). Book here

Membership to the Underwood Baby Academy is £10 a month or £100 a year and includes midwifery support and advice, a reduced membership rate for all courses, breastfeeding drop-in sessions, a mindful relaxation video and a goodie bag. Join here

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