There are plenty of other questions people ask when they learn you’ve done hypnobirthing…
But the ‘does it actually work?‘ question is probably the first one people ask. I know it was the first thing I wondered when I first heard about it!
It’s also the first thing people ask when they’re considering taking a hypnobirthing course to prepare for their baby’s arrival.
I can only speak from my own experiences – I’ve now had two babies applying techniques my husband and I learnt through a local hypnobirthing course – but I always respond with ‘how do you define ‘work’?
What people quite often mean when they ask this, can range from:
Does hypnobirthing guarantee a pain-free delivery?
Nope! And no one should be guaranteeing you this. If they are, run!
Does hypnobirthing mean you can’t take any pain relief during childbirth (like an epidural)?
Absolutely not. Whether you choose to have an epidural or not (or any pain relief) might be impacted by what you learn through attending a hypnobirthing course, but it certainly doesn’t exclude you from requesting and benefiting from pain relief when needed.
Can hypnobirthing work even in a C-section scenario?
Yes, there are many real life stories and testimonials from women who prepared for a planned c-section with hypnobirthing techniques, or who used a variety of methods to help them through the stress and uncertainty of an emergency c-section.
In fact, the company we went through, Hypnobirthing Australia, actually has a whole course just for planned c-sections using hypnobirthing techniques!
So does hypnobirthing work?
I’m a firm believer that yes, hypnobirthing works!
Whether you attend a hypnobirthing class in person, or follow a really good course online, hypnobirthing ‘works’ in so many ways to help with your baby’s arrival.
1. Hypnobirthing helps to get you really, really prepared!
It helps you to work with your birth partner (hubby, etc) to navigate pregnancy and prepare for the arrival of your baby (this helps to alleviate some of the confusion and stress when things start happening – for example, you will discuss your pain relief expectations, birth preferences, post-delivery wishes, whether you want skin-to-skin etc. so that you’re all on the same page.
You may even find that you get a bit ‘over’ all the baby talk (and that’s ok). Hypnobirthing courses might be over a weekend, or several days, and they bring up a LOT of questions.
It’s ok to feel overwhelmed by it all – there is a TON of information given out and it can sometimes feel a bit like hard work. But just try to take it one step at a time, and keep talking to your partner, and hypnobirthing instructor.
Remember – you are not the first (or the last) to go through this!
2. A hypnobirthing course answers ALL of those silly, small (and big) questions
It opens up a lot of discussion points that many hospital classes don’t have time to cover in detail, or at all – including things like the pros and cons of various pain relief methods, the timeline a natural labour might follow (which can differ substantially from the timeline the hospital might impose on you), your preferences for breastfeeding, placenta delivery and so much more!
It also teaches you about the physiological process of birth – i.e. what needs to happen to get the baby out!
I know this might sound obvious, but for most people, we have only seen childbirth as depicted in movies or tv shows – and those scenes are so far from reality!
Until I went through a hypnobirthing course, I honestly thought that labour only started when your waters broke (because that’s how it goes in the movies!)
But I quickly learnt that your waters can break at any point before or during labour.
(And this knowledge was very helpful because my waters never actually broke until the baby arrived – both times!)
3. Hypnobirthing might eliminate the need for any other birth prep class
This is a big ‘maybe’ because I obviously can’t cover all possibilities of what you experience in your local area, I can only speak for my own situation.
I was booked in for the hospital antenatal classes, as soon as I’d had my 6 week scan! I was so excited to get to the next stage of preparing for our baby to come.
But before that time (they normally book the classes for when you’re around 25-30 weeks pregnant), we discovered hypnobirthing. As we neared the end of the class, I wondered to myself, and then to my hypnobirthing teacher, what value we could possibly get from attending the hospital’s class on top of what we had already learnt?
By asking other friends who had attended the hospital classes, they said they mainly focussed on the hospital’s rules about how you can give birth. For example, how many hours from your waters breaking to you ‘having’ to have an induction or other monitoring. Or how many centimeters dilated you had to be at a certain point before the doctor would ‘decide’ whether you needed a c-section.
While we absolutely appreciated that hospitals need to have policies and rules in place to protect mums and babies, this kind of approach totally went against everything we had learnt about the natural progression of a low risk labour (which I was fortunate to have both times).
I worried that I would ‘unlearn’ everything and be coerced into something that I didn’t need just because it was within the hospital’s timeline or rulebook.
So we decided to just book a tour instead and then decide if we felt the classes would be of benefit.
What happened in the end was that we had the tour, it confirmed our fears about the way the hospital wanted to manage even a natural labour and we ended up switching facilities. (We had our first child in Australia where we were fortunate to have the option of a birth centre where they take low risk pregnancy cases – it was attached to a hospital if we needed an obstetrician, but it was totally midwife-led and very different to a traditional hospital setting).
I’m not saying that everyone shouldn’t attend their hospital antenatal class. Absolutely not! They can give you tons of vital information and it gives you a chance to tour the birthing suites and maternity wards. But, just be mindful that what the hospital says you can and can’t do in childbirth might be due to their own policies and procedures (which you can absolutely question at any point!)
I also fully acknowledge that not everyone is able to switch facilities or opt for a different birthing setting. But what you can control is the way you approach it.
Which leads on to…
4. Hypnobirthing puts you in control
I use the word control very carefully here. I realise there are so many things that are beyond your control in childbirth, and as my doula very wisely informed me at our first meeting…
Childbirth is probably the first point at which you need to let go of every expectation you’ve ever held about becoming a parent!
But, what hypnobirthing can do, is give you the tools to be in charge of your own birthing experience.
It helps give you some control over your own perception and understanding of ‘pain’ and discomfort.
Before going through hypnobirthing, I just assumed that childbirth HAD to be painful because that’s what everyone tells you. Well I can honestly say I’ve had two calm, intense and quick labours but I most definitely wouldn’t describe them as the most pain I’ve ever endured in my life – and I’ve broken several bones over the years!
Again though, pain is experienced differently for us all so I know this can be very subjective – only speaking from my own experiences.
5. Hypnobirthing gives you a birthing toolkit
It gives you tools and techniques to breathe properly (most of us don’t do it right!), clear the mind of stress and negativity and gain focus about the kind of birth you would like to experience. I didn’t even know I could think about things like this or have any choice over anything!
Wow, was I wrong!
And for anyone thinking, but wait it’s not about your ‘control’ or ‘experience’ – it’s about getting a healthy baby out of you.
Absolutely, a healthy baby is the primary end goal of childbirth but I strongly believe that the experience the woman goes through when bringing her baby into this world has far-reaching effects on her mental, emotional (as well as physical) well-being and we all deserve to have the best outcome for ourselves too.
Whatever path your birthing journey takes, the mum should feel informed, and able to make the right choice for her and her baby, without being scared or coerced into doing something she isn’t comfortable with.
Hypnobirthing gives you physical guidance on positions for all stages of labour. And no, giving birth on your back with your legs in stirrups is not always the optimal position (thanks again movies!)
6. Hypnobirthing gets you excited to give birth!
Yes, excited about going through childbirth! I know, this one might be hard to believe, but for me this was one of the biggest surprises.
With all the visualizations we did and affirmations I listened to, it was hard not to get really excited about going through childbirth.
Before I attended the hypnobirthing course, I just assumed that pain and discomfort were the only options when giving birth. I didn’t even know that some people actually enjoy giving birth and had really positive experiences.
We watched several videos of people giving birth using hypnobirthing techniques, and I was amazed at how beautiful, serene and calm the scenes were. I never knew childbirth could be like this!
Totally blown away!
And now, I am one of those annoying mums who is very happy to say that I had two amazing childbirth experiences.
They weren’t the quiet, water birth scenes I had envisioned (because things never go to plan in childbirth!) but I felt totally in control, prepared for what was happening, and I never once let fear get in the way of birthing my babies. I did it my way.
I definitely was not quiet, like some hypnobirthing mamas are, but that’s ok too!
I place so much of this positivity surrounding my birth experiences down to the hypnobirthing techniques we learnt and applied.
And, in my opinion, this is the key. You have to do the work.
But, hypnobirthing works only if you put the work in
All of these things only come together if you want them to, and work hard to achieve the experience you want.
And by this I mean hypnobirthing – or any birth prep class – takes effort.
It takes time to show up and practise what you’ve learnt
It takes courage to stand up and decide you want better for yourself than most societies have to offer pregnant mums.
It takes persistence and dedication to make it all work.
I’ve been told numerous times I got lucky with my labours – and most times I just smile and nod.
And maybe I did. But I worked really hard to be lucky!
It also helped that I had an awesome sidekick both times in my husband, as well as an amazing doula.
My birth team rocked and I couldn’t have done it without them!
I wish you all the best with your hypnobirthing experiences, if you decide to learn more.
Did hypnobirthing work for you? I’d love to hear your story…