What is hypnobirthing? An alternative birthing technique that’s trending
When I discovered I was pregnant with my second child, there were a few things I knew to be true:
- I wanted to enjoy the experience of having a newborn this time.
- I wanted to try and make breastfeeding work this time.
- I was going to do everything I could to make sure my second birth was not as traumatic as the first.
Number three was the only one I could really do something about pre-splash down. The others, well, I would just have to wait and see but I had a feeling that if I could get a handle on three then I’d have a fighting chance at nailing one and two.
Would it be a bit too vagina-whispery for me?
I called my good friend, Hollie de Cruz, founder of London Hypnobirthing and hypnobirthing teacher to the stars. Really. I explained that I was nervous about hypnobirthing: would it be a bit too vagina-whispery for me? I wasn’t really into anything a bit woo-woo or ‘out there’.
Hypnobirthing helps you stay calm
To give Hollie credit, she didn’t punch me in the face for being a narrow minded little upstart. Instead she explained that it was all science based and if I was willing to give it a go, she PROMISED me I would have all the tools to have an ‘awesome’ birth.
Birth…awesome? Hmmm. I’ll admit I was sceptical but not as sceptical as my husband. After a few conversations about whether we should do it or not I played my ace: ‘Well, essentially, I’m the one pushing the human out so I get to decide and we’re going to do it.’
Thank the birthing gods that we did. On our first session, our lovely teacher Gemma explained the basic theory behind hypnobirthing and it was like a light had been switched on in my brain. She said, ‘The uterus is a muscle and when you go into labour that muscle is simply relaxing and contracting. In order for any muscle to work efficiently, it needs oxygen which it extracts from oxygen-rich blood that your brain direct to the uterus when it’s time for baby to come.
Birth doesn’t have to be a scary, exorcist-like horror show.
If you panic, you start to create adrenaline and that means that all that lovely, juicy, oxygen-rich blood gets sent to your head and your limbs ready for fight or flight. At that point, your uterus is working on minimal fuel. It’ll still do it’s job but it’ll be harder, longer and more painful. Hypnobirthing is about arming you with the tools necessary to stay calm and ensure that muscle gets everything it needs.”
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Provided my husband with a role
And just like that, I got it. It made perfect sense to me. I can’t control the birth, but I can control how I respond to the birthing process and that is the most powerful thing I can do to achieve a stress-free, trauma free birth. As for my husband, he was blown away. Hypnobirthing not only reassured him that birth doesn’t have to be a scary, exorcist-like horror show it also provided him with a role – he was to be my protector, my messenger, he was directing the show that myself and Bo were to star in.
I adored the newborn bubble this time.
After listening to Hollie’s calming affirmations on my commutes and at night for weeks and practising my breathing with my husband, I went into labour on August 30th 2016, at 9.30 am. I put my headphones in and lay on the sofa and said absolutely nothing. I had a pool birth at home and Bo Harper Sims was born at 12.30 pm, three hours later, in perfect health. Her birth was so calm, she barely made a noise when she landed earthside and has, since then, been the most chilled baby I’ve known.
Incidentally, I adored the newborn bubble this time and having suffered with cracked nipples, blisters and constant mastitis the first time around, I breastfed without a hitch for six months.
More from Cat Sims: Postpartum depression is a sneaky customer
Ex-fashion buyer, ex-high school English teacher, ex-tour manager for ageing rockstars.
Cat fancier and lover of red wine. Married to music and regular tour-widow. Founder of blog Not So Smug Now. Passionate about the sisterhood, parents trying to make parenting work and family.
Often inappropriate, always ignoring boundaries. Been on the planet for about 36 years.