I’m a hypnobirthing teacher and postnatal coach and my passion is empowering women to feel good in their choices, their bodies and their capacity to trust themselves and their intuition.
The first time I talk to a new client, I ask her to describe her ideal birth. And I want her to be as detailed as possible. That’s what we are aiming for, during the pregnancy with all the relaxation, visualisation and meditation. We are working towards an ideal birth. Our subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between real and imagined. Therefore it makes sense that that’s what we focus on.
Certainly a significant proportion of my teaching is concerned with understanding this principle; if we want a positive birth we need to release negative beliefs and limitations and replace them with and focus on positive ones. Simple. Or is it?
Well actually, no. The thing about birth is that we are never completely in control and things can most definitely take an unexpected turn either in pregnancy, labour or both. So how do we then focus all our attention on our ideal birth but also remain aware and informed about potential other eventualities; so that if we are thrown a curve ball we can handle it by staying calm, grounded and relaxed?
Here are my top ten tips
Positive not perfect
Let’s strive for a positive birth experience not a perfect one. Let that shit go!
On the subject of releasing, I believe it’s really important to work on releasing painful traumatic feelings and fears you may be holding onto. It could be about a previous birth, a fear of hospitals, or feeling disconnected from your body. The list is endless and unique to everyone. The point is these are the things that may affect your ability to feel safe enough to give birth. We have to release those thoughts, feelings and beliefs before we can fill ourselves up with the positive ones. There are lots of different ways you can do this. I find talking therapies and energy work very effective.
Being connected to our intuition during pregnancy is so important. Including daily practices of mediation, yoga and journaling for example are all great ways to ensure this is happening. Why? Because if we are connected to our intuition and are thrown a curve ball during pregnancy or birth, we have a much better chance of being able to make a decision that really serves us and is for the higher good of us, our baby and our family. And the added bonus is that if you’ve never been in touch with your intuition before you may well discover what an amazing intuitive creature you are with a super power to tap into whenever the need arises.
Create alternative birth plans
Once I’ve talked to women about their ideal birth we discuss different eventualities. Curve balls. And by the end of our sessions together they have a clear idea of what a plan B and C might look like. One couple I worked with printed out their plan B and C birth plans and put them in an envelope in a drawer. That was their way of knowing they’d researched and planned for other eventualities so if things did take a different direction they would handle it. And once it was in that drawer they could put it to the back of their minds and focus all of their attention and positive thoughts on their ideal birth.
Read the evidence based research. Be confident in the knowledge that you can make informed choices.
Trust your instincts at all times. If the way you are being treated or spoken to doesn’t feel right then it’s not!
Make relaxation your top priority.
Hypnobirthing provides you with a toolbox of techniques to keep as relaxed and calm as you can whatever the situation. The breathing techniques you learn for example can be used whenever you feel anxious. Just by breathing in through our nose we are activating the parasympathetic nervous system and producing oxytocin, our best friend. Yes breathing is very simple but it is very effective! Find ways to add in relaxation sessions in your week. Massage, reflexology and being in nature are all brilliant options. Believe me when I say you can’t relax enough right now.
I want you to see yourself as part of a team during your pregnancy and labour. Your team is made up of you, your birth partner (if you have one) and your caregivers. Like all teams everyone has a job to do that’s unique to them. What makes for good team work is lots of encouragement positivity and support from everyone, including you! We know that what we focus on grows so by being as positive and encouraging as possible and thinking good thoughts about your birth partner and caregivers can only be a good thing and contribute to a positive experience.
Positive environment for birth
We are mammals and we like to give birth the same way they do: in a quiet dark setting where we aren’t being observed. We need to feel safe. So take some time to think about how you can create this for yourself or if you have a birth partner this is a great job for them. I encourage the birth partners I work with to create a lovely, cosy, snug for the woman at home a few times a week. The birth partner can practice reading relaxations and hone their massage techniques. So these become like mini practise sessions for labour. And think about your senses, what can you have with you in labour that are like touchstones for you? To bring you back to yourself so you feel calm and grounded.
The old saying that still gets banded about ‘as long as the baby is healthy’ is not helpful. It negates the importance of the mother’s care and wellbeing.
I believe that fostering a great relationship with ourselves from the moment we are pregnant, through birth and into motherhood is what’s really fundamental. If we’re ok, chances are everyone else is.