When I first heard about hypnobirthing, the name itself gave me pause.
I have had reservations in the past about the “fixiness” of the hypnotherapy world, where one session can allegedly “cure” addictions and “heal” traumas… so I didn’t buy into the idea right away.
After all, hypnosis through birth? Huh? Is that for real?
So to start, what even is hypnobirthing?
According to the founder and institute of Hypnobirthing:
HypnoBirthing® is a tried and proven technique, as well as a philosophy that guides and prepares a woman in giving birth in a peaceful and extraordinarily beautiful manner. It is a program that considers the psychological, as well as the physical, well-being of the mother, her birth partner, and the newborn, independent of context, whether that be in the quiet of a home, a hospital, or a birth center.
The HypnoBirthing® program is built around an educational process that includes special breathing, relaxation, visualization, meditative practice, attention to nutrition, and positive body toning. Most importantly it fosters an air of mutual respect for the birthing family, as well as the healthcare provider in a traditional healthcare system or an alternative setting.
I’ve learned a lot since my initial judgments, and it’s wild how aligned the philosophy of the practice actually is with not only my values, but also my skills. Whether you are in the process of growing your family or you think this resource would be powerful to share with someone who is, I encourage you to consider this approach.
First of all, a lot of hypnobirthing comes down to establishing breath patterns – something my career as a professional opera singer has surprisingly and beautifully prepared me for.
By following certain counting patterns for breathing all the way from early labor signs through the final moments of childbirth, we accomplish a few things:
- We send the message to our bodies to stay in the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and healing state of being) rather than the sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, or freeze). This allows the bloodflow and neurological signals from our brain to stay focused on the task at hand, rather than the fear-induced survival state that draws energy and blood away from the vital organs for birth.
- We stay in the moment. Many women become understandably exhausted and overwhelmed through the birthing process, and their fatigue can cause complications for the baby and mother. By staying present and mindful, we reserve energy in crucial times and therefore have more energy for the more demanding moments of labor. This helps us work with our bodies rather than against them.
- We allow and surrender to a flow that is beyond our control, when everything in us might be telling us to “do more.” This is the ultimate spiritual and mental practice, and for many this can encourage a euphoric birth experience (even with challenges along the way) rather than one of heightened stress, trauma, and pain.
This strikes a chord with me, personally.
Not only do I know and value the role of breath in our lives from my days as a singer – having studied the human anatomy, the breathing mechanism, and physiological impacts of optimal breath support – but I am also a coach and know and value the role of visualization, mindfulness, and accessing our essential state of being even when afraid or under pressure.
The parallels between singing and childbirth are actually quite mind-blowing:
- How we use our breath to engage and release our pelvic floor = a critical component of singing and childbirth
- How we manage our breath to encourage the body into a parasympathetic state rather than anxiety or fear = a critical component of singing and childbirth
- How we engage with our breath to fully embody the present and spiritually connect to beauty = a critical component of singing and childbirth
And how these two seemingly disparate past (opera singing) and future (childbirthing) worlds for me connect is through my current world: coaching.
Hypnobirthing requires coaching. Although it is as natural to us as breathing and sleeping, it is actually a learned skill like walking and talking.
Entering a grounded state of mindfulness and relaxation when alarm bells are ringing in your body and mind requires practice and facilitation. But once you have that skill, you have it for life.
I have found the more I practice these meditations, breath patterns, bodywork, and visualizations, the more I can use them in regular life when I’m stressed, overwhelmed, or experiencing intense feelings.
The other aspect I really love about this method is how much the partner is included in the process. In the hypnobirthing course, we are both taught how we can focus as individuals on our specific roles, as well as how we can work together as a team throughout labor and birth (not to mention, pre-partum and post-partum).
Overall, here is the curriculum for the course:
- Stages of labor
- Relaxation / self hypnosis
- Nutrition for pregnancy, birth & breastfeeding
- Support techniques for dad / partner
- The physiology of instinctive birth
- Natural induction methods
- Comfort measures for labor & birth
- The 4th trimester & infant feeding
- Breathing techniques
- Visualization techniques
- Special circumstances & medical intervention
- Massage for reducing or eliminating pain
- Working with birth hormones
- Positions & movement for labor & birth
- Pre & perinatal bonding
- Advocating for your birth choices
So if you’re curious to learn more, here are a few places I looked to for guidance:
- HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method: A natural approach to a safe, easier, more comfortable birthing
- Find a local course near you
Whether you are interested in an unmedicated birth center experience, or you plan to get an epidural at the hospital, this method applies to any birth preference, as it will facilitate your laboring process with greater peace, self-advocacy, and partnership with your body and spouse!
My singing & coaching journeys have lead me to this place where I am excited to embrace this experience, and as I learn more, I will share more. Let me know what you’d like to know!