Hypnobirthing // Sarah Collison from Happy Births
Recent years have seen a soar in the popularity of Hypnobirthing. Perhaps once thought of as a bit ‘woo’ or ‘hippy’, more and more expectant parents are now tapping in to the mind:body connection and learning simple yet powerful relaxation techniques to prepare for their baby’s birth. I asked Sarah Collison from Happy Births to tell me more…
When you consider the benefits for mum and baby it soon becomes clear why, and also why it is increasingly being encouraged by midwives and other hospital-based professionals.
Confidence for pregnancy and birth (for mum-to-be AND her birth partner)
Flexibility during labour and birth
Informed decision making
Relationship with midwives/doctors
Higher Apgar score
Bonding with baby
Ease of breastfeeding
Smoother transition to parenthood
Fears, anxieties and tension
Need for medicated pain relief
Requirement of medical intervention
Length of labour
Length of stay in hospital
Recovery time after birth
Incidence of post-natal depression
“The course was amazing, afterwards I felt so much more relaxed, positive and ready for giving birth than I thought was possible. I really enjoyed the science behind it all – it was so evidence-based and putting it into practice during pregnancy and labour meant I experienced a wholly positive birth.”
How does it work?
A Hypnobirthing course can be seen as a complete birth toolkit. It teaches simple but specific self-hypnosis, relaxation, breathing and massage techniques for a safe, calm and gentle birth. Simply put, the more relaxed you can be in labour the more in control and positive you will feel.
Turn off those “One Born Every Minute” episodes, and start watching positive and empowering births where women are smiling and welcoming each “surge” (contraction).
In class (and as homework) couples enjoy guided relaxations. For mums, the serene music and visualisations become anchors that are used during surges to stay relaxed and distract the conscious mind, so that the body can do what it was made to do.
Gaining knowledge of the physical builds confidence in the body’s natural abilities, and being informed about the choices you may need to make along the way means you can make decisions comfortably knowing that you are doing what it right for you and you baby.
Hypnobirthing also helps dads and other birth partners understand their role and feel confident about the practical and emotional ways they can be supportive.
It is for all types of birth?
Yes! The techniques are invaluable regardless of the setting, or the way in which your baby enters the world. In fact some of Hypnobirthing's greatest advocates are those who, for varying reasons, had surgical births. The techniques that they had learned equipped them with the tools they needed to relax, remain calm, and enjoy a positive experience where they still felt in control.
The very point of the techniques is that they work when things are going ‘to plan’ as well as when things may take a turn ‘off plan’: what happens during your birth experience is less important than how you feel about what happens.
Is it all about labour?
The course I teach covers so much more than birth itself. We look at how lifestyle in pregnancy can have an impact on babies in the womb, what happens immediately postnatally, and how to look after mum and baby in the first twelve weeks – the “fourth trimester”. Couples leave feeling prepared (as much as you can be for something so life-changing!), and with signposting from me for local support on many aspects of newborn life, including breastfeeding.
Whilst Hypnobirthing doesn’t promise a natural pain-free birth, it does give you the best possible chance of having a straight-forward, vaginal birth, and an experience that you will remember with only positive memories.
“My baby is only going to have one birth – I’m so glad we invested in Hypnobirthing classes to ensure it is a positive experience. The tools also help me stay calm in everyday situations. I’ve gone from scared of labour, to having an excited ‘bring it on’ attitude!”
Sarah teaches in Reading Berkshire. She has worked with many couples to transform their mindset from feeling apprehensive and fearful to feeling prepared, supported, relaxed and excited, and go on to enjoy a birth experience that is positive, empowering and calm.
You can find out more over on Sarah’s website www.happybirths.net