Getting Prepared with hypnobirthing

When we first announced that we were expecting our first child I had a handful of friends (who are all mothers) get in touch to tell me about hypnobirthing and how wonderful they’d found using the technique during labour. Let’s face facts – we’ve all heard pretty traumatic childbirth stories (people just love sharing them – they revel in the horrified expressions they get in return), so I was ready to try anything to help get me through the ordeal… what I wasn’t prepared for was just how lovely I’d find hypnobirthing, and how it would change my whole perception on the day we welcome our little Crumb into the world.

For me, the main message is that by the time I’m ready to give birth, my body will have managed for nine whole months to create this little human. It will have done that all on its own with no outside guidance and instruction… so why would that suddenly all go to pot? Why not trustfully listen to what my body wants me to do and roll with it?

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I know some of you might be wondering what on earth I’m talking about – so I’ve asked my teacher Hollie to answer a few questions to help explain it all:

What is hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing is a completely logical childbirth education programme, but one with a difference. Instead of looking at how a woman can merely “get through” or cope with birth, it focuses on teaching a woman how her body is designed to birth comfortably and gently, and empowers her to do so. We look at where the fear of birth comes from, how it affects birth, and primarily the impact adrenalin has on how our birthing muscle – the uterus – works during labour. Hypnobirthing teaches deep relaxation, breathing and massage techniques to stimulate the production of endorphins – the love hormone – during labour, along with defining the very valuable role of the birth companion.

Does it involve hypnotising the woman so that she’s in a labour-loving trance?
Rather than the hypnosis we see on stage, hypnobirthing teaches self-hypnosis as a deep state of relaxation with a heightened state of mental awareness. When our mind is deeply relaxed, so are our muscles, and learning how to achieve this is the key to a lovely labour. At no point are women in a trance or out of control, hypnomums tend to describe how they felt in labour as safe, empowered, calm and goddess-like! There are no pocket watches involved.

How do hypno-births differ from the births we see on television shows like One Born Every Minute (must stress, this is one of my favourite shows, although I’m currently banning myself from watching it) or in films?
Sadly we’re very used to seeing birth in a set way in our media. More often than not, women are on their backs, legs up, sweating and screaming, whilst poor old dad is watching on helplessly and getting pummelled or sworn at. It’s dramatic and predictable, but it gets ratings. When I show my couples videos of hypnobirths, they’ve rarely seen anything like it before – and not because it’s anything weird or voodoo – but just because the whole atmosphere is so different. Hypnobirths tend to be very relaxed and loving, you’ll see couples completely connected, able to have a laugh, and working as a team to bring their baby into the world. Another big difference is in the babies when they’re born – instead of being bright red and screaming, hypnobabies are often born asleep and calm – a clear reflection of the gentle birth they’ve just been part of.

What has surprised you most about the hypnobirthing technique?
Probably it’s simplicity. I stumbled across it when I was six months pregnant with my son, and quite honestly I thought it sounded too good to be true (and a bit new age). I thought I’d have to buy into something, but in fact, all I had to commit to was the practice. Just understanding how birth worked opened my eyes hugely, and also learning to appreciate that it was a real team effort between me, my husband and our baby. I wasn’t alone, and having someone there who knew exactly what to do for me and how to create this safe environment for our birth was paramount. The other thing that surprised me was the obvious impact it had on our son. He was calm from day one.

What advice would you give mums-to-be about what’s to come?
First, don’t listen to horrible birth stories. If you haven’t had your own experience of birth, your subconscious mind grabs hold of these and stores them as your own. Not helpful. Second, put a lot of thought into your birth environment – have your own music playing, nice lighting, aromatherapy oils. Whether you choose to birth at home or in hospital, you can create a space where you feel safe and nurtured, and this will have a massive impact on your birth. Third, step aside and let your body do what it’s perfectly designed to. Freeing your mind and turning within as this incredible experience unfolds is something I can’t describe. You are bringing a human into the world, and that makes you amazing.

(Hollie runs friendly group courses in East Dulwich and private courses all over London. For more information about course dates and availability, and to read birth stories from the couples she’s taught, visit www.londonhypnobirthing.co.uk. If you’re further afield, visit The Hypnobirthing Association website to find your local practitioner.)

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I like to think of hypnobirthing as a form of guided meditation. It eases your mind and calms your fears – plus it’s an amazing thing to do with Tom. I know it makes him feel really included in the pregnancy – but more than that, it enables him to see how important and needed his input is. Tom will be my main support on the day, and I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather have by my side offering words of encouragement, giving me light touch massages (seriously, they’re blooming awesome) and, well, just being my absolute rock.

Also this week… we took a trip into London for our latest scan (I’m becoming increasingly thankful for my bump badge on the Underground) and I’m pleased to report that Crumb is growing nicely and looking very happy in there – the head is even down, which we’re told is excellent news.

We had dinner with my sister-in-law Carrie and took a trip to the theatre to see Donmar West End’s The Weir at The Wyndhams – it’s a play I’ve heard a lot about over the years, so I’m thrilled I’ve finally got to see it. It’s funny but hauntingly tragic at the same time… I laughed and cried!

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And on top of all that, ideas are being bashed around for my THIRD novel. Yes, I know, you’ve not got your hands on book two yet – but I should be able to show you a cover for that one VERY soon (and confirm the title!).

So I’m frantically calm, but very happy with how the year is going so far!

Love to you and yours!

Gi. Xx

P.S. Last week when I talked about maternity wear I failed to mention my quest to find comfortable underwear (especially knickers) – but I’ve cracked it! Bravado seamless panties are amazingly comfortable and they don’t dig into my new squidgy bits! Ha! Their bras are worth checking out too!

12 comments

  1. Wow, we’re all feeling so excited because of the arrive of your little Crumb! Can’t wait to see you and Tom being the perfect couple of proud parents.
    Also, I have to admite (sorry) that as a Galaxy Defender since day 1, I’m feeling with a double excitement, first Mcbaby! woho!!
    Glad everything’s going right.

    Have a great great week Mrs. Fletcher and co.

    Love. x

  2. Hi Gi!!, and congratulations for your baby!!
    I hope you are enjoying your bump, as I can tell you that it IS an amazing experience to carry your little baby inside you and to feel every change in your body (I had a very good pregnancy, I was lucky for that).
    I didn’t do hypnobirthing when I gave birth last 20th March 2013 (almost a year now… woww!!), just the usual preparing courses for mums-to-be, but I have to tell you that I had an AMAZING experience thanks to the great proffesionals that helped me in that moment and, of course, thanks to my husband that were ritght by my side (and even more excited that I was). I asked for epidural anaesthesia, and I got it on the right dose, and I really enjoy giving birth (It is hard, of course, but absolutely worth it), I was perfectly counscious and I did the labour being able to feel everything but without pain. My little baby girl, was so calm and perfect, we all cried and laughed alltogether (all, but her that was asleep on my chest).
    Now she is a lovely little girl that grows up so fast… so ENJOY EVERY SECOND of your bump, of your baby and of the time the three of us together (you, Tom and you baby) before and after the birth..
    All the best for you all!!
    Love
    Miriam

  3. This sounds awesome. I’ve never trained in hypnobirthing but I’m pretty good at focusing on relaxing muscles and here in the USA my doctors/midwife (I’ve used both) have always been very informative about various stages of labor and what’s happening, etc. I can safely say that labor has been the only times in my life as a female when I’ve been completely in/focused on my own body experience. So this makes sense to me. I’m wondering though on the newborn (my kids have all been med free/trauma free births and I kinda think the degree of laid-back (they vary) has arguably more to do with innate personality than how they made their debut. My question is about babies born relaxed or asleep-isn’t it imperative that they get a good strong holler ASAP to expand the lungs and expediate the expulsion of mucus? I know it’s included in the newborn APGAR scores here and gets the baby pinker (indicating good oxygenation) faster. But is that been found to be unnecessary?

  4. Whilst the idea of hypnobirthing sounds wonderful, I gave birth a year ago, and unfortunately all of that was taken out of control. My little boy had slowed in his movements so I was induced and as a result I was monitored throughout. Luckily I was though as his chord was clamped in his arm so through monitoring we knew his HR was dropping so he was quickly pushed (and pulled) out!

    His birth hasn’t defined him though as he’s the calmest, chilled out and happiest toddler.

    My worry for mums is that if you don’t have a calm birth, they feel they have failed. I’m so grateful medical staff intervened with mine! X

  5. Hi Gi,
    I’m so glad for you, Tom and your good pregnancy. Only a few months for him/her arrive! Can you wait?
    The best part about this blog is for future mothers and pregnant womens, you’re making a good work with it.
    I’m sure Tom is happiest than ever with everything, you two are my favorite couple, so lovely, so adorable.
    Will you still be doing it after pregnancy?
    Lot of love,
    Zeni.
    xxx

  6. I’m so happy reading your blogs and whatching Tom’s videos. It looks like you’re having an amazing time with all this pregnancy stuff. Your baby is going to be beautiful and amazing.
    Thanks for sharing with us the process, this is actually very exciting for me.
    Have a nice week, Gi. Please, say hello to Tom.
    Good Luck :)

  7. Hi Gi!
    I hope all is well with you and Crumb.
    I can not tell if I’m more excited by the arrival of Crumb or the release of his second book. I’ve walked with information about the introduction and this next book (yes I know the name) seems as interesting as Billy and Me
    So it is good to have a job in which I divulge their works here in Brazil, I can not want to tell you how much you are appreciated here.
    I very much hope that you can come here one day. I know it will take a while, especially with Crumb Welcome to our world. But I’m sure you will be welcome here
    Lots of Love

    Rafaella Hernades
    Disclosing twitter and blog
    @AllAboutYouGi

  8. Hi Gi. We are both pleased to hear that that things are going well.
    It looks like a really interesting idea and we hope it goes well for you.
    Looking forward to having another Great Niece/Nephew.
    Very Best Wishes
    Chris & Bev

  9. Thank you so much for sharing! I have recently become a HypnoBirth practitioner after using HypnoBirth with both of my babies. I can honestly say it was the most amazing, exhilarating and natural experience of my life. Both times. I’m hoping for a third soon! Getting so broody spending time with my beautiful pregnant mums! Anyway I look forward to sharing this, just keepcalmbirthon! xxx

  10. As a mother, now birth doula, who’s experienced two beautiful births, the second being in my own front room, in the water…I can tell you that it is entirely possibly to look back on the actual birth with good memories and a real feeling of empowerment and satisfaction. Well done for being so positive and spreading the word!

  11. Thank you for sharing al your experiences with us,and Im really happy for you and Tom!

  12. Dear Gi,
    I grew up with you and Tom. I grew up with you both on my walls and in my heart. You’ve been together for so long – since when I was so young! And now look at you guys! You’re going to be three in no time! I still remember things from 2005, and I can’t help but feel like it was yesterday. Since then, you and Tom have been my role models.
    Your relationship makes me believe everyday that Love is real. The pure and sincere kind, the type of Love that bond you and Tom together. You’ve been my models, not only as a couple, but as individuals. I watched Tom become insanely successful in everything he does (no need to say more), I watched him from a loving boyfriend to a loving husband, and I’m willing to see him as the loving daddy I know he’ll be for your son. He inspires me to be a good person.
    I watched you bloom as well, Gi. Just like a flower, so beautiful! So strong yet so delicate…! I was right behind you as you shared your achievements, and every single one of them made me proud just as if you were my big sister. I watched you succeed as a novelist, as a wife, and I know you will be the best mama this world has ever seen.
    I had to come here and tell you, Gi, that you look fabulous in your pregnancy. I feel like you’re glowing, as the brightest star in the sky. Whenever I see you in a video, you look so genuinely happy that my eyes are constantly filled with tears while watching you. No, not the sad kind of tears. Those tears that come from sincere happiness. Tears that come up, almost unwittingly, when something truly touches your heart very deep inside. You look beautiful, Gi. And your beauty is, more than ever, one of a kind. You were always so pretty, but now it’s different. It’s like your beauty is contagious – contagious like happiness should be. Makes me feel beautiful too. Makes me feel like the whole world is beautiful and that life is worth living.
    From the very bottom of my heart, I wish you and your family all the greatest things I could ever wish to someone. You and Tom are very close people to my heart. And even though you don’t know me, I feel like you’re my friends, after all these years supporting you silently on the other side of the world. I don’t often write you guys, but I felt like the moment was special.
    When time comes to actually bring your baby to this world, you be sure I am going to be here with you and your family, sending you positive energies and wishing you all the very best. I hope baby Crumb will come to this world very healthy and strong! Have an amazing birth! I’m sure you will. I love your explanation about HypnoBirthing. Be safe and strong, Gi.
    A kiss on your cheek! And tell Tom I’m sending him the greatest bear hug!

    Lots of Love,
    Lara.

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