Published on 5th April 2019

Hypnobirthing will literally change your mind about childbirth. Whether you’re feeling anxious or excited about having a baby, these evidence-based pain management techniques encourage deep relaxation no matter what happens while you give birth.

That said; there’s a lot of confusion about what it really is, so we asked Siobhan Miller, mother, entrepreneur and author of Hypnobirthing to tell us more.

What is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing classes are essentially antenatal classes that give you the tools to remain calm and present while you give birth, allowing you to make better decisions for you and your baby. Hypnobirthing techniques empower women with a deeper understanding of what really happens to your mind and body during childbirth, and counters the more frightening stories that are available in the media. It frames the experience in a positive light, and teaches women to sit up rather than lie back, to breathe rather than panic, and to take control of what is happening throughout.

How do I learn hypnobirthing techniques?  

Hypnobirthing techniques are relatively simple and extremely effective. You will learn simple breathing patterns that can be used to reduce physical tension during the surges (or contractions). You will also learn to tap into guided meditations and mindfulness exercises to help you relax further. A light touch massage technique can also be learnt, which stimulates the production of endorphins—your body’s natural pain relief and feel good hormones.

You can start learning hypnobirthing techniques at any stage of your pregnancy, but if you’re feeling anxious, it’s recommended that you begin learning sooner rather than later. Make sure your birthing partner gets involved too.

Can my partner help with hypnobirthing?

Ask your partner to create the right environment for you before the birthing process begins. Softer lighting, for example, soothing music and a spritz of essential oils can make a room feel cozy and familiar.

Your partner can also coach you throughout the process by using the hypnobirthing techniques you’ve learnt together. They could count your breath during contractions, give visualization or meditation prompts, or shower you with positive affirmations.  

A traffic light system helps them to understand when and how to assist. “Green” means you’re completely relaxed while signs of mental and physical tension register as “amber”. These can be triggered by surges and include raised shoulders, tightness around the jaw or clenched fists. This is a partner’s cue to step in and help you get back to a calmer “green” state.

“Red”, however, is the danger zone that signals mounting tension, which can trigger the release of adrenalin. This actually drives blood and oxygen away from the uterus towards the limbs, as the body enters fight or flight mode. Too much adrenalin can actually slow down uterine contractions, and make childbirth longer and more painful.

Medical intervention is also more likely in the “red” zone.

How does hypnobirthing help a woman in labor?

A central aim of hypnobirthing is to help women overcome fear of childbirth by nurturing more positive ideas and associations with the experience. It provides moms-to-be with practical tools to remain calm and relaxed so they can better navigate a potentially stressful time. You’ll be empowered to respond coherently to any unexpected events, and to fully understand the options available to you and your baby at the time.

What’s more, the deeper your relaxation during childbirth, the more oxytocin your body will produce. This not only speeds up contractions and makes childbirth quicker; it also generates feelings of happiness. This can vastly reduce the risk of postnatal depression or birth trauma, not to mention giving baby a much smoother and happier start in life.

Is there an app to help with hypnobirthing?

FREYA app provides a virtual hypnobirthing partner that helps both moms-to-be and real-life birth partners to stay calm. It provides guided meditations and visualizations, positive affirmations and mood-altering music.

It also offers a contraction timer, which helps you count your breath during surges, and time them too. Once the surge has passed, the relaxation audio will resume at the touch of a button. FREYA logs these contractions, and tracks your progress, alerting you when it’s time to call a midwife. Download FREYA here.  

Where can I find a hypnobirthing class?

If you’re in the UK, many NHS trusts now offer free hypnobirthing classes. Find one near you via the Hypnobirthing Association. If you’re in the US, you can find a hypnobirthing practitioner in your area via the Hypnobirthing Institute.  

Last word from an expert

As well as writing a book, Siobhan is the creatrix of The Positive Birth Company Digital Pack, an affordable and accessible hypnobirthing program. It provides a comprehensive online course that can be used on any device to prepare you and your partner for the big day.

You can buy Siobhan’s new book on hypnobirthing, Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make Your Birth Better  here.