If there was ever a mantra that has proven rewarding yet simple, it is that of positivity. Approaching life with a glass-half-full mindset makes one feel more peaceful, happier and calm. Why then, is the process of giving life shrouded in fear and pessimism? A mother-to-be’s Due Date hangs over her head throughout pregnancy, and it doesn’t just start at conception. Right from puberty when their bodies began to prepare for childbirth, women approach the task with foreboding.
Enter Hypnobirthing, the use of hypnosis to achieve maximum relaxation, comfort, and relief during childbirth and designed to release fear and build confidence during birth. The method is based on the work of Grantly Dick-Read, MD, an English obstetrician who wrote Childbirth Without Fear in 1944. According to Dr Dick-Read, use of hypnosis during labour helps women break what he termed the “Fear-Tension-Pain syndrome” which makes labour more difficult.
Though it has existed for a long time, Hypnobirthing is growing in popularity all around the world. Curious? We asked Yvonne Meyer Onyando, a certified KG Hypnobirthing teacher and founder of Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, some of the questions you might have.
How does Hypnobirthing work?
“Hypnobirthing is based on the power of suggestion. The labouring woman uses positive affirmations, suggestions, and visualisation to relax her body, guide her thoughts, and control her breathing. To do this, women prepare their mind through learning a self-hypnosis technique during pregnancy. The mother is taken through the techniques in a class and then practices by listening to recordings or their partner reading relaxations scripts to them,” explains Yvonne. “Apart from the hypnosis, Hypnobirthing is about getting to know facts and information about labour and birth, which a mother-to-be needs to release fear and learn to trust their body, instinct, and their baby. Childbirth is a natural process which a woman’s body is equipped for. Like a marathon, if one believes they can do it, they are unlikely to give up.”
Does this mean a pain-free birth?
Sorry to disappoint, but hypnotherapy isn’t about doing things unconsciously at the click of a finger as TV would have us believe. According to Yvonne, a positive birth experience does not mean the birth is painless. Rather, it is one that is free of fear and tension. “You are still conscious and aware, but deeply relaxed. This makes the process much easier for the mother,” she says.
What is a good birth experience?
“A lot of things can contribute to this as every mother’s experience is personal. Being able to make your own informed choices, having a care provider who listens to your preferences, knowing what questions to ask and having a good support system are some of the things that contribute to a pleasant experience. Equipping a mother-to-be with information ensures that whatever turns a birth may take, she is prepared for it and remains calm throughout.”
Do I have to give birth at a Birth Centre?
“Hypnobirthing is done wherever the mother feels comfortable. It could be at a hospital or a birthing centre. Some mothers need a doctor nearby for them to feel relaxed, while others do not like the idea of hospitals. It is all a matter of preference. For whatever setting she chooses, the mother should make sure her care provider understands how the technique works and once again, listens to her preferences.”
When is best to start learning the technique?
“It’s ideal to start the classes in the second trimester. The more time to practice, the more energy a mother-to-be will have for the birth. However, practicing the hypnosis for even a short time is highly beneficial. Mental preparation makes a big difference in the process of giving birth.”
Words: Wambui Muriithi Illustration: Nzilani Simu