Introducing Harmony Hypnobirthing with The Birth Network
As a doula I work with families who often use hypnobirthing as a tool to manage pain and facilitate a natural birth. I have worked as part of a birth team with hypnobirthing teachers who cared deeply about their clients birth experience. Some parents tell me it was all they needed for a beautiful birth experience and others use it as a tool that they pick up and put down as it is useful to them.
Colleen Stewart is a hypnobirthing teacher and she is here to answer some of the questions that I get asked and that I wonder about! Take it away Colleen -
1. There is such a range of hypnobirthing courses and sometimes parents ask me what they should choose and if they have to do antenatal education as well as hypnobirthing. What would you suggest?
Firstly, hypnobirthing is for everyone, every type of birth and it always works! It just might not work in the way people expect before they do the course. Most couples come to me with the aim of a drug free, natural birth, and many get this. However, there will always be a proportion of women who need, for good reasons, a medical birth. My course is just as relevant to them, sometimes more so. It provides them with knowledge of how they can still be in control of their birth, and how to make it positive still.
Couples get this knowledge from the antenatal side of my course. I cover what happens in an induction, what happens in a caesarean birth, what are the different types of pain relief and how do they effect labour – plus much more. By being prepared for these options, it is easier on the day to make good decisions that are right for the individual couple.
If someone comes to me and does not want to do any antenatal classes, that is no problem as it will get covered on my course. However, some couples still like to do an antenatal class as well.
There are several brands of hypnobirthing, and within those brands you will find teachers have different teaching styles and experience. To make sure you pick the right teacher I would suggest go with someone with you feel drawn to. Check them out on social media and on their website, do they have good reviews? – do they seem like someone who would support you beyond the course offered and are they really passionate about what they teach.
I would also recommend picking a teacher that teaches a British style of hypnobirthing, preferably local to you. This is because they will have more knowledge about the NHS system and potentially the policies in your area. I often teach couples who are planning to give birth at the hospital I gave birth in, so I can offer some insider information.
2. Does hypnobirthing work in a medical setting like a hospital?
Definitely! I am not medically qualified so I can not give any medical advice on my course. What I give couples is the tools to question the medical advice given to them, and to seek answers that are right for them. We put so much trust in our medical teams to make the right decision, but often we do not realise we have options – and unless you ask you won’t get those options. Hypnobirthing is not about going against medical advice and midwives, but more about educating couples to work with midwives to get the options that they want. It could be something big, like requesting to be allowed a water birth when someone was previously told no. Or it could be something little – for example I wanted to use a cotton umbilical cord tie. If I hadn’t have told my midwife this, she would have used a plastic clip.
Hypnobirthing will give someone the tools to relax and stay calm during labour. A midwife will ensure that everything is progressing safely. The beauty of hypnobirthing is that it is so popular now that many midwives are now trained in it. So that they can help facilitate a hypnobirth and have an understanding of what a woman is trying to achieve.
3. Is it worth parents doing an online course at all? Are some better than others?
For me, there is nothing better than a face to face course that makes you sit down, as a couple and practice. You can ask questions specifically for your situation and find out local hospital policies. When I teach, the birth partner is often sceptical at the start, but throughout the course we do some exercises together that really makes them change their perspective. This is so important, as the birth partner plays a very vital role in a hypnobirth. I don’t think you would get this transformation as a couple from an online course.
The benefit of doing an online course though, is that they are often cheaper. So if someone can’t afford a face to face class, I would say they still definitely need to do something! Although if price is the only obstacle, most hypnobirthing teachers offer payment plans to make the course as accessible as possible.
4. What is the most important thing parents should do if they want to use hypnobirthing?
Practice! My course offers lots of relaxation techniques to try after the course. But like anything in life, deep relaxation is a skill that does not come naturally for many people. You need to practice it every day if possible, at different times of the day and in different situations. This is because labour is un-predictable and can happen anytime, anywhere.
5. What is the bare minimum of time that people should invest in hypnobirthing to get the best from it?
Generally I recommend learning at around 20-30 weeks. This gives plenty of time to practice, but close enough to the due date that all of the antenatal side of things is still fresh. (although I do give out a book and course notes with my course, just in case). That said, some practice and knowledge is better than none. I recently taught a couple who were 38 weeks pregnant! It’s never too late.
Thanks Colleen! You can find her at https://harmonyhypnobirthing.co.uk/