Can self-hypnosis through breathing convert sceptical expectant mums? asks Shimmering Sands Contributor Jade Chilton
“What is hypnobirthing, though… really?” asks every new mum or mum-to-be we’ve encountered when the term arises in our many pregnancy-orientated chats. Generally they’re intrigued, albeit a little apprehensive if this really could be the ‘natural’ solution to childbirth.
In short, hypnobirthing is a form of self-hypnosis through focused breathing and relaxation to ease the baby into the world in a gentle, and for some mums, pain-free fashion. It’s reported that many mums who employ hypnobirthing tend to experience drug-free, shorter births with minimal interventions (we’re looking at you forceps and vacuums). However, this is not to say mums who attend hypnobirthing classes don’t have c-sections or pain relief. Hypnobirthing can help the process go a lot smoother, prepare your mind for what is to come and eliminate any fear and anxieties that have been accelerated by hearing too many negative birthing stories and years of watching movies where you see purple-faced women pushing their baby out with all their might.
Pain relief methods for birthing mums comes in many different forms which includes gas and air, an epidural (the numbing of the lower half of the body for women in labour), and an elective c-section for non-medical reason other than the fear of giving birth or convenience, which is a popular choice for women in the UAE. Our first question is, can expectant mums really forgo drugs or an elective c-section and instead rely on self-hypnosis and specialised breathing exercises?
To discover more we enrolled in a four-week course of three and a half hour sessions with Love Parenting UAE. The classes are either held by trained hypnobirthing experts Ana Piera, who is also a practicing doula, or Jasmine Collin, hypnotherapist and former doula.
Sat among four other pregnant couples, Ana asked us to write down the first five words that come to mind when we think of birth. “Scary,” “painful”, “long”, “life changing”, “frightening” where some of the words and showed that Ana had her work cut-out for her.
Over the next four weeks, Ana taught us many tools and techniques to take control of our own birth. We replaced words we associated with negative connotations with more positive, less intimidating words. Pain was replaced with discomfort and instead of contraction we said surge, this is a technique to help us change our mindset from the get go. She taught us how to take charge of our thoughts and helped us rid negative feelings with fear releasing methods. We watched eye-opening positive videos of mums in labour and giving birth using hypnobirthing techniques; we experimented with helpful labour positions, light-touch massage and birthing scripts to be read to us by our husbands plus a number of breathing techniques to take us through the different stages of the labour. Most importantly we downloaded relaxation and hypnosis MP3 files which we were to listen to on a daily basis leading up to the big day. Following each session Ana would send us a motivational email with links and images of topics we discussed during the class along with ‘homework’ to keep us focused. After four weeks we felt equipped with enough relaxation armour to take on our birth with confidence.
On our fourth and last session, after a practicing labour positions and breathing techniques Ana asked us to repeat the task from week one and write down five words we now associated with birth. This time words like, “natural”, “calm”, “beautiful”, “gentle” and “exciting” were chosen, a complete 180 from the terrifying words we wrote down with birth in our first session. Proving how far we had all come.
Shimmering Sands Tried & Tested:
Cutting a (very) long story short, hypnobrthing worked for us. Initially we were more than happy at how the course helped change our mindset which led to a calm build up to the big day. It also prepared dad-to-be, who left the class feeling more informed and with more knowledge on how to help us during the birth rather than just the expected hand holding.
By attending classes and listening to the MP3 tracks every day we were able to better prepare our mind and body and we no longer viewed birth as an experience to be feared (‘horrendous’ is how one mum-to-be friend described it) – but instead a positive one at the end of which we would meet our beautiful baby.
Don’t get us wrong, this was no easy feat, and we won’t lie and say we didn’t experience any pre-birth anxieties but with the help of MP3s designed to help release fear, deep breathing techniques and instructor Ana available on Whatsapp and email for advice, we were able to overcome our worries before our baby arrived.
We believe all this preparation enabled us to have the water birth that we dreamed of, without pain relief and all in 11-hour window from pre-labour to birth. On hearing our positive birth story a lot of friends and family said, “It doesn’t seem like you felt any pain” or “You were lucky”. The experience was intense but we knew how to handle it with the tools we had learnt and practiced. We like to think it was sheer determination and belief that got us over the line, but of course a little bit of luck played its part.
Out of the five couples who we took course with, four of the mums (the last couple are expecting soon) had positive experiences through hypnobirthing; there was one baby that arrived a few weeks early, a water birth, an emergency c-section and a natural twin birth.
Whether you’re a mum planning an epidural, a c-section, or one who’s hoping to go au naturel we recommend taking this course because whatever path your birthing takes, you will have the mental tools and information to help you have the smoothest experience possible. Plus those MP3s don’t half help you nod off to sleep.
Group classes with Ana or Jasmine cost Dhs2,200 and private classes Dhs3,500.
Along with the classes, Love Parenting UAE host free coffee mornings where you can meet fellow mums and expectant mums once a month.
Enquire here for more information: http://www.loveparentinguae.com/contact
Imagery credits: Feel Great Breaks