Does Hypnobirthing work?

First, if you don’t know what hypnobirthing is, please click here to read my post about the classes I attended.

I always wanted a natural birth as I don’t enjoy the feeling of not being in control of my body. I don’t like being drunk and I imagine the affect of the drugs would scare me instead of relax me. In addition, there are side affects for mother and baby. For me, they felt like a last resort choice.

When I had my first baby, hypnobirthing was a new idea and costs quite a bit for a private course. My means meant I attended the traditional antenatal class which covered pain relief and caring for your baby. Second time around, the government have found the benefits of hypnobirthing makes it worth offering it for free. This time I was able to go for the cost of a book and free downloadable tracks.

I feel it did work. I only have my personal experience to compare it to. Here are my birthing stories.

First labour (without hypnobirthing)

On Wednesday, 12 November, I was tired as I’d not had my nap so we went to bed early at 10pm. Almost as soon as I got in bed, my back started to ache & I started needing the loo constantly. At the time I didn’t realise I was in labour.

I decided to sleep on the sofa so I wouldn’t disturb my husband who had work in the morning. After a few hours, I asked to switch places as I couldn’t get comfortable on the sofa – my husband at this point suspected I might be in labour as I crawled into the bedroom like the girl from The Ring.

The discomfort plagued me all night and by 5am I was tired & desperate for something to knock me out so I could sleep. I didn’t think I was in labour as I was still able to talk normally. We called the hospital and I explained the pain and they asked me to come in.

When we got there, the midwife confirmed I was 8cm dilated (almost 9cm). They were confident the baby would arrive soon, I got in the birthing pool and waited but nothing much happened.

I requested Pethidine in the hope I might be able to kip for a bit but I as warned u couldn’t be in the water for that. Instead I tried gas and air but it made me feel dizzy.

I got out for another internal exam. I didn’t like the qualified midwife but thought the Trainee was awesome. The trainee midwife discovered that my cervix has an extra bit of skin preventing me getting to 10cm. I was warned labour could take longer, be harder and painful but the trainee was willing to support me however I wanted. I decided to have the pethidine. The qualified midwife told me most people get a c-section. I carried on trying to deliver my baby myself. The qualified midwife insisted I be put in stirrups so she could keep an eye on my cervix. It made it harder to push.

Then suddenly, I felt like I was on fire down there and was terrified all my holes would become one. The trainee assured me she could see him and with another push he’d be out enough for her to use the forceps. I pushed. She turned to get the forceps but I pushed again and he was out.

I delivered my son at 1:15pm on 13 Nov. I did have a small tear but didn’t need stitches. Labour recorded as 5h.

Second labour (with hypnobirthing)

On Sun, 5 Aug, at 7pm, I kept needing the loo and went for a poo, three times in an hour. This was an early labour sign with my first baby so I asked my hubby to take our son to bed incase my surges (contractions) started.At 8pm he checked how I was and I was chilling watching ‘Orange is the New Black’ but told him to ring his mum and let her know tonight might be the night (she would be having our son).

By 9pm, I was getting regular surges so I downloaded an app to time them. They were every 3 minutes and lasting 40 seconds – after three, the app told me to go to hospital but I decided to watch another episode.

By 10pm, my surges were every 2 minutes and lasting 40 seconds still. I agreed to call the hospital (the app was bleeping at me to go after every surge now). The hospital agreed I ought to come in and be checked.

I then took my time checking my bag and my son’s bag – you can’t really move fast when you need to stop and breathe every 2 mins and it interferes with your train of thought. We dropped my son off at his nana and arrived at the hospital about 11:30pm.

By midnight, I had my checks and hospital agreed I could stay. I was 4cm dilated but as my son was a quick first birth (at 5h) they thought it best to keep me in. We ran the bath and prepared the room. The music wouldn’t play on my kindle but the midwife got us a CD that had relaxing music. I got in the bath which soothed my back and started breathing through my surges.

My hubby noticed I was getting tired and suggested I lay on the bed. The midwife felt this would be a get time to do a quick internal exam. It was then she noticed I have a ‘flexi-cervix’. I was still 4cm, but every time I surged, I was about 9-10cm. She could see my water bulging and was convinced she could arrive any minute. My hubby massaged my back while I rested.

I decided to get back in the water as the warmth helped. I got back in. The surges were now stronger so my husband held a pillow at the side of the bath for me to conserve my energy between them. I felt the need to start pushing and used the J-breath to move the baby down.

My hubby suggested I try lying down as I was tired. I went to stand but a surge came, I quickly dipped back down in the water. My waters broke and I could feel the fire sensation and knew her head was in my cervix. I quickly did another long J-breath and my husband lifted her out the water.

I delivered my daughter on Mon, 6 Aug at 4:44am. I didn’t tear and didn’t need stitches. Labour recorded as 2.5h.

Did it work?

For me, it did work – my labour was much quicker and less painful. I didn’t use all the techniques taught but the breathing helped me push her out and stay calm and conserve my energy. It’s certainly worth checking out if you would like to deliver your baby naturally and without drugs.

However, there is no shame in taking whatever pain relief that is offered. The goal is to deliver a healthy baby and you can use whatever tools are available to help you achieve that. For me, those tools were breathing, water, aromatherapy, music and my husband but everyone is different.

What do you think?

Let me know if you did hypnobirthing and if it was beneficial to you? I’d love to read your labour stories too.

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Hypnobirthing – what is it?

For the past two weeks my husband and I have been attending Hypnobirthing classes.

Last time, we attended a traditonal antenatal and I didn’t feel I got much more out of it than what I had already read. At the time hynobirthing was a private course costing about £300 (from memory). We couldn’t afford that.

This time, the NHS are offering it for free so I jumped on it. My husband wasnt’t sure he wanted to go as it all sounds a bit hippy to him. My midwife said it is for me and my birthing partner so he has to attend.

We were required to buy the book for £10, download the music and bring a birthing (gym) ball.

Our course was split over two days and was delivered by a local community midwife that has been in the profession for years. She covers shifts at our local hospital, so was very famillar with the wards we would be using.

Day 1

We started with an introduction to hypnobirth to help us understand what the course will cover and manage our expectations.

We then did some exercises to understand the power of the mind and the use of language to influence our feelings. On a white board we came up with positive language for labour to replace negative words:

We then were taught surge breathing and how to break the Stress Tension Pain cycle. This lead to understanding the hormones are bodies produce in response to situations and those that help labour and those that are counter productive.

After lunch, we covered the different phases of labour and what to do to help our body be most effective at each stage.

We then learnt another breathing technique called ’J’ breathing which helps to move the baby down and out.

We watched some videos of women ’breathing’ their babies out and making it look very easy. I got very emotional as it brought back the feeling when my son was first placed in my arms.

We ended by covering the benefits of delayed cord clamping which is when you wait until the pulsating stops – it is usually only takes a few extra minutes. We covered the different methods of delivering the placenta and told why the vitamin K injection is important.

Day 2

We covered how gravity is our friend. It is very important to keep moving in labour and stay upright as this helps move the baby down. We were shown why a bed birth is not the optimum method.

To use gravity, use:

  • A floor mat
  • A bean bag
  • A birth ball
  • A birthing stool
  • Rebozo (a scarf)

We we’re shown some good positions and how to use a scarf to move the baby. The techniques had names like ’shaking the apples’.

We then discussed the best position for baby. You want them head down, at the front (anterior) and on the left. The midwife used a skeleton diaphragm and doll to show us why. We were told babies move clockwise. Then she showed us some techniques to move baby into this optimum position.

We then did more breathing exercises and relaxation on mats to scripts read by our partners. Our partners we’re taught how to calm us if we are getting stressed and signs to look for. They were shown some massage techniques to help and we covered the power of touch.

We watched a video showing a supportive birthing partner to see the impact they have to improving the experience.

The midwife covered the other resources available to us at the hospital including other pain relief methods. She encouraged us that they are there if we need it and not to rule something out or be disappointed if our plans change.

We discussed resources to improve our environment and increase our oxytocin.

She told us about golden hour and the benefits of it. This when the baby has just been born and has skin to skin contact and often supports breast feeding (you can still do it with a bottle). It helps with bonding. If the mother needs medical attention, the father/birth partner can do this. Sometimes, it’s not possible if the baby needs medical attention.

Final thoughts

I really enjoyed the course and got a lot more out of it than I expected.

Firstly, it was brilliant quality time with my man. We were both so relaxed afterwards, it felt like we’d been on holiday.

Secondly, the course made me feel empowered and prepared for labour. I feel excited about labour rather than afraid it will hurt or could go wrong. I’m focussed on the positive affirmations.

Thirdly, I liked how informative it was and not pushy. There was no anti-talk. It was positive and inclusive of everyone. The techniques were backed by scientific facts explaining why it works (like our hormonal responses or the way a baby moves down).

The breathing has made my baby more active – she’s been lazy until now. I love surge breathing as I get to feel her wriggle about.

I like all the exercises and tips we received to support an optimum birth – oxygen, gravity, positivity. I feel my husband is clearer about how he can support me. He has written some positive affirmations to put up round the house like subliminal messages.

I would recommend giving it a go. The techniques you learn will benefit you for life – how to relax and be positive. The course also covers the other options so if hypnobirthing isn’t for you then you are still prepared.


I plan to post after the big day on how my labour went so I’ll let you know if any of the techniques I learnt helped or not.

Have you done hypnobirthing? Do you use positive affirmations or relaxation in your life?

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