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What is Hypnobirthing?

6 min read | 14 November 2021

In the episode of Pure Parenthood, we’re joined by the Founder of Hypnobirthing Australia, Melissa Spilsted. Today we are discussing Hypnobirthing, what it is along with its benefits.

Listen to Season 3, Episode 3 above or on Apple Podcasts or Spotify​.

‘Hypnobirthing’ is best described as a positive approach to birth. The ‘hypno’ part of hypnobirthing can help parents to reduce anxiety and fear. This is a very handy tool to have throughout pregnancy, birth, parenthood and for life in general!

What are some of the Benefits of Hypnobirthing?

  • A calmer, more positive pregnancy and birth experience for the birthing mother and baby.

  • Less interventions in birth,which equates to quicker postpartum recovery, plus short and long term health benefits for mother and baby.

  • More partner involvement. The birth partner takes on a more important role through pregnancy and birth and it can be very bonding. Birth partners often become our biggest advocates because they can see first-hand how effective our tools can be through the intensity of birth.

How Does Hypnobirthing Work?

We prepare ourselves both body and mind leading up to birth – so by the time birth comes around, we go into ‘automatic’ mode. By using Hypnobirthing techniques, our mindset is positive and not led by fear, and this has a physiological effect on our body (i.e. we are not as likely to go into that ‘fight or flight response’).

This is where Hypnobirthing is helpful as you can learn tools to help reduce the intensity of labour and keep you calm. Some of the tools that are covered in a Hypnobirthing course include:

  • Breathing techniques

  • Acupressure

  • Visualisation

  • Light touch massage

  • Self Hypnosis

  • Deep relaxation techniques

  • Movement/Upright positioning

  • Vocalisation

When we are calm and feel safe, we release a cocktail of wonderful hormones (including endorphins and oxytocin) that actually aid to reduce discomfort and help labour move along with ease.

Hypnobirthing isn't just about mum going through labour, it involves the birth partner too, they will play an active role. Having our birth partner totally on board – they know what to do and what to say, this allows us to release and let go.

We’ve thought ahead regarding our birth preferences and discussed them with our caregivers and birth partner prior to the birth. This ensures that everyone is in the loop and mum can just switch off her neocortex during the birth and get on with the most important job… bringing our baby into the world safely.

Breathing and Visualisation Techniques

Breathing is so important. Without even noticing, your breath sends signals to your body in reaction to the pain you are feeling and this may result in your body tensing up. When this occurs, it can start to take over your mind's focus and as the pain builds, you're thinking only about the pain and what's to come.

This is where visualistion is helpful. Controlling your mind to not focus on pain, such as instead thinking of your uterine muscles working, or thinking of the contractions as a wave that will come and go. Even taking your mind away to a beautiful place in nature can help. When we are using visualisation techniques, we are using up receptors in our brain and taking them away from the area of our brain that receives pain.

In addition to this, the deep breathing techniques allow oxygen to travel through to the uterine muscles, which during labour and specifically contractions, are having a huge workout. Imagine going for a run or a swim whilst holding your breath, you’re not going to be able to work to your optimum capacity and your muscles will become fatigued, this is the same during labour. Your breathing also has an effect on your baby, if you are holding your breath and in a flight or fight response, it sends the blood away from our uterus.

How Can People Learn Hypnobirthing Techniques?

The Hypnobirthing Australia program is very accessible (face-to-face, Zoom or online) and over the past decade has grown to become Australia’s most popular childbirth education program. Hypnobirthing Australia is offered independently through childbirth educators throughout the country and also through many health services and hospitals.

We have face to face and online versions of the course for ALL types of birth. Our flagship course is the ‘Positive Birth Program’ and we also have our world first Positive Caesarean Course.

Can’t make it to a course? The Hypnobirthing Australia website is full of free Hypnobirthing resources and inspirational birth stories and videos.

Download the episode transcript here.

This article was written in collaboration by Melissa Spilsted and Purebaby, in conjunction with season three, episode 3 of Purebaby’s podcast, Pure Parenthood.

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