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What is hypno-birthing?


Hypnobirthing is simply a generic term that means the use of hypnosis for birth.  There are several different forms of hypnobirthing, which all work towards helping the mum have a natural birth.


We are all in hypnosis, without knowing it, about 60% of the day so this is something that comes naturally to us all. It occurs just before you fall asleep and just as you awaken.  Other examples include losing track of time when reading a good book or when watching something interesting on television or when you do anything you enjoy doing.  Have you ever driven from A to B, arrived at your destination and not remembered how you drove there?  If so, you were in the daydreaming state of natural hypnosis.


In essence, hypnosis is simply a state of heightened relaxation and altered awareness.  In hypnosis you are awake, aware of what is going on around you and you are in control.


Hypnobirthing is based on the work of Dr Grantly Dick-Read, an English physician whose principles provided the foundations of the National Childbirth Trust (NCT). He is famously quoted as saying; “In no other animal species is the process of birth apparently associated with any suffering, pain or agony, except where pathology exists or in an unnatural state, such as captivity.” He went on to conclude that fear and tension was responsible for 95 per cent of labour pain, which could be eliminated through relaxation techniques.


What does it involve and how does it prepare you for the birth of your baby?


Hypnobirthing is the intended use of hypnosis to allow you to tap into your inner resources, which we all have in our subconscious minds, to create feelings of well-being.


These feelings of well-being are created by using special breathing techniques to maintain calmness, positive affirmations, visualisation, colours for relaxation and healing and of course self-hypnosis which is created by using all these techniques.


Hypnobirthing helps you to:-

·         Put things in their true perspective.

·         Relax, stay calm and in control - in a calm, relaxed state your muscles and skin can stretch easily and naturally in a pain-free way.

·         Stay focused on the process that your body is going through and be in tune with what your body and your intuition are telling you.

·         Be healthy and sleep well.

·         Heal quickly and recover faster.

·         Bond with your baby.

·         Breastfeed easily, if you choose to do this.

·         Be happy and have confidence in your abilities as a mother. 

·         Get back to pre-pregnancy weight, shape and dimensions very soon after the birth.


How did you become interested in it?


I was a biology teacher for 35 years, 25 of them in a 6th form college teaching A level biology.  I trained as a hypnotherapist in 2000 because I had had a shoulder injury for 4 years that the medics could do nothing about.  I had previously learnt self-hypnosis and used this to heal the shoulder and deal with the pain. Thus with an understanding of the human body, and having studied hypnotherapy I combined these two areas of knowledge and created the Inner Power Hypnobirthingmethod for natural childbirth.


The Inner Power Hypnobirthing method takes you through pregnancy, the birth, bonding with your baby, healing quickly after the birth, having all the energy you need and coping as a new mum, breastfeeding easily and very importantly getting one’s figure back after the birth.


I teach couples very simply about the biology of the female body and the process of birth reassuring both parents that the female body is in fact beautifully designed to give birth. This natural ability seems almost to have become forgotten. My method, combining biology and hypnosis, returns power and empowerment to the mother.


It teaches you about the powerful mind-body connection so the tools you learn to have a straightforward, wonderful and magical birth experience can then be used for life to keep you calm and to cope with all situations.


Hypnobirthing can also help you if you have; nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, needle, doctors and hospital phobias; swollen extremities; placenta previa and to move the placenta to a safe place for the birth and to turn a breech baby.


Is hypnobirthing about using hypnosis to create a pain free birth?


No it is not just that.  It is about removing the ‘fear’ and helping mums-to-be to trust that their bodies are designed to give birth and to work with their intuition and instincts.  Inner Power Hypnobirthing helps the mother to be more relaxed and in control, coping with the contractions easily, so the birth process becomes a less painful experience, which of course is much better for both the mother and the baby.  I do not guarantee a pain-free birth because everyone has a different pain threshold.  However, some of my mothers do achieve this therefore a pain-free birth is indeed possible. 


I’d like to point out that I rarely talk about ‘pain’ for if you think pain then that is what you get.  So I always talk about contractions, and this then changes one’s feelings toward the birth.  I feel it is a real shame that many people call the contractions ‘pains’.  The contractions are not meant to be painful.


What can the birthing partner do to support mum during labour?


With hypnobirthing the birthing partner has a very important role in helping the mum-to-be to maintain her self-hypnosis so she is totally relaxed , and to help her with breathing exercises to keep her adrenalin low (this is the panic hormone) so she is in control at all times, working with her body which is biologically designed to give birth, and with her intuition.


When you are relaxed you cannot feel fear and when you are relaxed your body responds by producing serotonins (I call these the Happy Hormones) a morphine based chemical which is the body’s natural epidural.


In this way the birth becomes the magical, empowering experience for both the parents and the baby, and the ‘pain’ for the mum is at the minimum it can be. 


I actually find that the dads/birthing partners enjoy having a role to do as it makes them feel so much more involved in the birth process.


What do you find most rewarding in your career as a hypnobirthing teacher?


I like giving back ‘power’ to mums, helping them to trust that their bodies are perfectly designed to give birth easily and naturally.  I enjoy helping mums and dads feel, and be, more confident about the birth process and so they look forward to the experience with excitement knowing that they are going to be in control whatever happens.

All the great testimonials I have received from the parents reinforce my joy and fulfillment in doing a job I love and find deeply rewarding.


I have also published a book BIRTH MADE EASY, which is a complete hypnobirthing guide for the mum and her birthing partner as it comes with a free hypnobirthing CD.   Writing this book and getting it published has been immensely rewarding for me, as I want to give all couples the chance of learning hypnobirthing for under £10.

My book is available on Amazon, Kindle and Apple iBooks and here


Does your work ever involve travel or has it taken you to any exciting places?



Yes, in July I attended the HypnoThoughts Live 2014 Hypnosis Conference in Las Vegas and I gave a two-hour presentation on Inner Power Hypnobirthing which was well received.  Las Vegas is a very exciting place – like a big Disney world for adults and experiencing an American Conference which was much larger than any UK ones I have been to, was very exciting for me.

Published in Birthing Styles
Tuesday, 12 November 2013 18:19

Pregnancy Fears Can Be a Gift

When I was pregnant with my first daughter I wanted to learn everything I could about being pregnant.  I wanted to be sure that I was doing all of the right things to nurture my baby. I wanted to know about my baby’s growth and development. I wanted to prepare for bringing my baby home. However, there was one part of the books, websites, and magazines that I would always skip. The section on labour and delivery.

I was seriously afraid of giving birth. I had seen all of the TV shows and movies where the lovely pregnant woman turns into a complete lunatic once her labour begins. She is not only in the worst pain imaginable, but she is angry and she wants to kill her husband for 'doing this to her'. On the other hand I was also terrified of having an epidural and medical interventions. I knew that I wanted to have a drug-free birth but I wasn’t sure how that was going to work. I honestly just wanted to avoid the topic altogether.

As my baby grew it was clear that I was going to eventually have to come up with a plan for her birth. One day, as I was reading “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” I saw a tiny paragraph about 'hypnobirthing'. It said that hypnosis could be used as a pain relief technique during labor and birth. That option really appealed to me. I started to research hypnobirthing. I read stories from women who had used hypnobirthing, and found out more about what the course had to offer. I was lucky to find out that there was an instructor that taught classes about five minutes away from my office. My husband and I took the hypnobirthing course and I was surprised to see that not only did the course teach us the actual technique, it taught me the cultural and historical reasons why I associated pain with birth, how fear during birth causes increased pain, and the importance of 'self-talk' and the language we use around birth.

My fear of birth and my fear of epidurals and medical interventions led me to look for a way to birth that made me feel empowered. For that I am grateful, and I look at my fear of giving birth as a gift. After the classes I felt very prepared both mentally and physically. I was no longer afraid of birthing my baby. I believed in myself and my ability to birth my baby. And when the time came, I was excited rather than fearful. One of the hypnobirthing affirmations I used was “I am so excited that my baby is finally coming to me”. And I was. I was more excited than fearful.

Pregnancy fears are common and I trust that there is a reason for them. You are now responsible for another life. Your life is changing dramatically whether it’s your first baby or your fifth! You may have fears about your body, your baby’s wellbeing, your mental health, how your life will change once the baby is born, finances, relationships, or birthing to name a few.

But keep in mind that the fear response was developed to help us. In the early days of humanity, we needed to have a very extreme fear response because we were facing a very dangerous world. And although we aren’t running away from predators anymore, fears are still here to tell us that something isn’t right. But we need to take the time to figure out what that something is, and what we can do about it. If we don’t do that we can get caught up in a cycle of chronic stress and our bodies suffer from the impact of the continual activation of the fight or flight response.

We cannot avoid stress completely, but it’s best to learn to manage our stress and fears. When we are pregnant, it’s especially important to assure that our stress response isn’t thrown into continual overdrive. There are many ways to decrease stress such as gentle exercise, meditation, rest, massage, reading, writing, affirmations… the list goes on.

But when you are dealing with fear, one thing that I have found helpful is to reframe your fear as a gift or a lesson. You can say to yourself “I know that life is always working for me. As such, I choose to see this fear as a gift. I am open to understanding what this fear is trying to teach me.”  That alone may help you take the next step. You may realise that your fear is trying to tell you to take a break, or take a birthing course, or see your health care provider.

The important thing is that you do not allow yourself to get caught up in the cycle of fear. By reframing fear as a gift or a lesson you are setting yourself up to take control over your emotional response.

Have you had fears during your pregnancy? Can you reframe any of those pregnancy fears as a gift?

 In having a home birth you will not have hospital protocol around you. Having the knowledge that a class can give you may be priceless in the end! Your care provider may be able to give you some insight during your appointments, about what to expect. However this does not substitute taking a class and doing hands on learning.

So how do you choose which to go with? There are so many choices, here is a brief synopsis of some of the choices out there.

Hypnobirthing uses a long term training (start early in your pregnancy), of putting yourself in a sort of trance by using a set series of touches to help you deal with your contractions. There are classes you can take taught by certified people or there is a home training that you can do. 
Hypnobabies similar to Hypnobirthing but rather than use touch as the corner stone for the self hypnosis it is using actual hypnosis to help through pregnancy and labor. It helps you learn a closer bond with your baby and makes it more of a symbiotic process rather than autonomic. This can also be taught by a certified trainer or by a home class using cd’s. 
Birthing From Within this class uses imagery and visualizations to help you move through pregnancy and birth. The class is tought by a certified trainer, but there is a book that you can buy to do your own self study. 
The Bradley Method is often referred to as the Husband Coached Birth. This was created to allow the spouse to be more involved in the birthing process. Again they are taught by certified trainers who have used this method or taken an extensive training program to become certified.
Lamaze has long been used in labors as a breathing technique to get through labor. The organization has grown from just birth to doing more about pregnancy and raising children. This is taught by a certified trainer. 

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Published in Birthing Places
Tuesday, 13 December 2011 22:50

Hospital Birth Step #2: Establishing Support

Once you have chosen a care provider, the next step in planning a hospital birth is establishing your support system.  I would argue that this is possibly the single most important thing you can do for both you and your baby to ensure you have the birth you desire.  Having a solid support system to guide you through pregnancy, labor and delivery has been shown to increase women’s reports of satisfaction and happy memories of their labor and birth.  This can also be the most challenging aspect of planning a birth.  

The process of establishing a support system can be difficult because it requires you to be familiar with what you want out of the experience (preferences for interventions such as induction or pain medications,) and that you find people who will support your decisions without question.  You likely have already been barraged with people who have unsolicited advice for you.  While it can be beneficial to hear many different views and opinions on what helps and what doesn’t, the choice is ultimately yours.  

When I gave birth to my first son, I was astonished at how unprepared I was to handle labor.  I had a very supportive husband, but we were not as informed about the process as we should have been.  During the end of my second pregnancy I started reading and discovered an amazing amount of information that helped me get through labor much easier the second time around.  I discovered a number of sources of great information about handling labor and delivery in a naturalistic and intervention free way.  Unfortunately, I was less than a month away from my EDD and I did not have enough time to thoroughly educate both myself and my husband properly to get through transition and I ultimately asked for an epidural.  When I continued to read after the birth of my second son, I found even more information and confidence that I know will help me get through a third labor and delivery, drug free.  

I have outlined  two of what I think are “essential roles” to help you through labor and delivery.  These roles can be played by anyone you chose, as long as you know that these people will trust in your beliefs about what you want, and will support you 100%.  The process of assigning these roles to people in your life does not have to be done at one time or another, but should be ongoing throughout your pregnancy.  You may discover that people are supportive at first, but as you discuss your wishes for labor and delivery, they try to impose their own opinions and values on you.  You may want to wait to officially assign people to play these roles until you are nearing your due date so that you can be sure that they will support you the way you want them to.  

Your Partner: This person is usually the husband, boyfriend, lover or life partner.  Your partner loves you, trusts you, and is definitely going to be there for the big moment.  If you do not have this person in your life now, consider a close friend who shares your values.  If this person does not share your values and beliefs about labor and delivery, you may try to educate them with information you have found that supports your decisions.  It may also be the case that this person will still support you even if they do not understand your decisions or would do things differently.  Either way, it is essential that you trust this person to fully support you during labor and delivery.  If you do not have someone close that you feel you can count on, you should consider a doula.

A Doula: A doula is a trained professional, typically a woman who is knowledgeable about all aspects of pregnancy, labor and delivery.  Doulas are typically paid (though some utilize a sliding scale rate, and many in training work for free while they gain experience towards certification.)  A Doula essentially acts as a secondary support system for both you and your partner, and ensures that your wishes about labor and delivery are adhered to.  A Doula is an excellent resource to have if you are planning a natural birth in a hospital because she will be able to ensure that the hospital staff does not try to influence you to agree to unnecessary interventions such as pain medication or monitoring.  You can read more about what a Doula does here on the DONA International website.  You can also use the DONA site to find a doula. The presence of a Doula can help your partner feel supported so that he or she can better support you.  Doulas do not replace your partner, they are a compliment to the partner.

Birthing classes are also a form of support for you and your partner for labor and delivery.  There are a number of classes and methods that you can choose from.  I have outlined some of the most common and familiar methods here.

The Bradley Method: This method underscores natural techniques combined with viewing the pregnancy, labor, and delivery process as being a partnership between mother and her partner.  It is an experience that both people share, and this method focuses on educating both the mother and her partner about pregnancy, labor and birth so that the partner is better able to understand the process and thus better able to support the mother.  The Bradley Method involves a 12 week course that both the mother and her partner attend, and is taught by certified instructors.  Class sizes are small (3-6 couples), so that the instructor can provide one on one instruction. Click here to view more information on The Bradley Method.

Lamaze: is slightly more focused on labor and birth specifically, though it does encourage healthy and informed pregnancy choices as well.  Lamaze is not simply breathing techniques anymore.  It teaches the “6 Healthy Birth Practices” that focus on the choices a laboring mother has about her labor and delivery.  It educates women about why avoiding interventions is helpful and offers naturalistic ways to manage labor.  While its naturalistic views are similar to that of Bradley, there is less emphasis on the partner.</p>

HypnoBirthing: Also known as the Mongan Method, focuses on relaxation techniques and utilizes self hypnosis to help the birthing mother work with her body throughout the labor and birth process.  It educates women and their partners about the natural process of labor and birth with strong emphasis on a variety of relaxation techniques including breathing exercises, and deep relaxation techniques that can be practiced throughout pregnancy.  HypnoBirthing also emphasizes healthy pregnancy practices and provides women with lots of information to take home including a work book and relaxation scripts.  Class sizes are small and private instruction is available.  You can find a HypnoBirthing class for more information on Hypnobirthing.

There are also a number of books and authors that are I highly recommend.  I have only read a few of these, but they have been recommended by a number of people I trust in the birthing community.  If you would like to locate a book at a low cost, check out Amazon.  You can often find books used at significantly below the retail cost in a store.

  • Husband-Coached Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley, M.D., Marjie Hathaway, Jay Hathaway, James Hathaway
  • Natural Childbirth The Bradley Way by Susan Mc Cutcheon, AAHCC
  • The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding distributed by La Leche League International
  • Children at Birth by Marjie and Jay Hathaway, AAHCC
  • Assistant Coach's Manual Susan Hathaway Bek, Marjie Hathaway, AAHCC
  • The Birth Partner  Penny Simkin
  • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth Ina May Gaskin
  • Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta Ina May Gaskin

 Also there are a number of Facebook Pages that I absolutely love including Birth Without Fear, Mamas and Babies, Mama Birth, and Breastfeeding Arts that are personal blogs by naturalistic mothers who share research information and personal stories to help mothers make informed choices.  These pages offer a community of women who have experienced all different kinds of births and share their experiences and support for women looking for information to make informed decisions.  

 As you can see, there is a ton of information out there at your disposal.  The key is finding it and figuring out what fits with your values and desires best.  Even if you have only heard stories from women who said that labor is painful and you are expecting the worst, (which I was for my first birth), you will find a lot of great information in these resources that may help to reduce the chances that you will ask for pain medication and the need for other unnecessary interventions.  I know I sound repetitive, but knowledge is POWER!  Empower yourself to make the best choices for you and your baby so that you may have the best birth possible!

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Published in Birthing Assistance

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