There are many ways to prepare for giving birth. It can be learning about the phases of childbirth, or about the different tools you can use to deal with pain and fear. But it is also important to prepare mentally for childbirth, and an increasingly common method of doing so is through hypnobirthing.
What does hypnobirthing mean?
The first descriptions of the Hypnobirthing method came in 1987 and today there are several role models on the subject of natural childbirth. It is also a method that is deeply rooted in science and research. Hypnosis can be compared to daydreaming - or disappearing into something - like watching a movie or being deeply immersed in a good book. It can be similar to ending up in a "flow-like" state. Being in this state helps us to disconnect external factors and reduce stress. This allows the body to do its job and give birth in harmony.
Hypnobirthing as a method
Hypnobirthing is a method where you prepare and strengthen yourself mentally before giving birth using various techniques, such as positive thoughts, relaxation, visualization, breathing, concentration and deep relaxation. It is based on your learning to take control of your nervous system and your mental focus. This method is built on the foundation that you dare to disconnect your thoughts and allow the birth to take place. Your body knows what to do.
Part of Hypnobirthing is also understanding how the body functions physiologically, how our bodies are affected by stress and anxiety, and inversely how it is affected through feeling security, peace and harmony. A more positively charged word for pain in hypnobirthing is contractions or waves. Through security, calm and relaxation, hypnobirthing helps to attract the hormones that help the birth process. Oxytocin is the most important hormone and through hypnobirthing, we help the nervous system activate part in us that provides security, peace and harmony.
How does hypnobirthing work?
What we do know is that women who use hypnobirthing in connection with childbirth use medical pain relief to a lesser extent. But the type of pain relief you choose in connection with childbirth is a choice you make yourself, and there is no value or prestige in it.
Hypnobirthing can of course be used both with and without medical pain relief. For women who want to give birth without medical pain relief, hypnobirthing is an excellent choice for managing pain. Medical pain relief, such as spinal anaesthesia or epidural, does not in itself provide a more positive experience of the birth. What primarily determines whether the experience becomes positive or negative is more about how you handle the pain, and for pain management, hypnobirthing is a good choice.
Essentially, hypnobirthing is about listening exercises and doing them daily to help yourself set a goal and change your way of looking at the upcoming birth of your baby. During these exercises, you will arrive at a place of deep relaxation. You can also listen to the exercises during the birth. To get the best possible help from hypnobirthing, it is good to start practicing well in advance of birth. The recommendation is to practice every day from week 30 of your pregnancy. It requires a bit of commitment, so do not start too early if you know that you easily get tired or lose motivation. As with all training, the more you practice, the better you become. But of course, it is never too late to start if you want to utilize hypnobirthing. Even little practice is better than none at all.
Source: - Atis FY, Rathfisch G. The effect of hypnobirthing training given in the antenatal period on birth pain and fear. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2018 Nov;33:77-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.08.004. Epub 2018 Aug 18. PMID: 30396631. - Uludağ E, Mete S. The effect of nursing care provided based on the philosophy of hypnobirthing on fear, pain, duration, satisfaction and cost of labor: a single-blind randomized controlled study. Health Care Women Int. 2021;42(4-6):678-690. doi: 10.1080/07399332.2020.1835916. Epub 2020 Nov 12. PMID: 33179993.