Hypnobirthing, and positive birthing overall, is an extraordinary approach to childbirth that empowers mothers-to-be to make informed and confident choices during labour and birth. At Smart Cells, we understand the importance of having all the information you need to make decisions about your birthing experience. Hypnobirthing is a practice that many of our families choose to use during their labour, so today we’re exploring this transformative method that focuses on relaxation techniques to control fear, anxiety, and pain during labour, and the informed choices that you may want to make.

What is the hypnobirthing method?

Hypnobirthing is a holistic approach to preparing for labour and birth that focuses on relaxation techniques, deep breathing, visualisation, and understanding the birth process. The main aim is to help new parents to manage anticipated fear, anxiety, and pain during labour and birth. 

The goal for families using hypnobirthing is for their birth to feel positive and empowering, with every aspect of the experience carefully considered and managed. Expectant mothers using hypnobirthing are encouraged to foster a calm and confident mindset to enable them to work with their bodies and minds in a natural and instinctive way. 

Although in years past, hypnobirthing was seen as a niche method, today it is considered a very valid choice for births and is supported and even promoted by midwife units across the country. 

What are the 5 Cs of hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing is not just a single technique; it is a range of different techniques and practices where parents can choose which work best for them. The best way to summarise these is with the “5 Cs of Hypnobirthing”—Calmness, Control, Confidence, Choice, and Comfort—this approach aims to create a positive and nurturing birthing experience for both mother and baby.

In real terms, this may mean setting up the atmosphere in a room so that you can feel at your most Calm – dim lights, no chatter, quiet music; or even going in the other direction and choosing upbeat positive music and being surrounded by your favourite people. This ties in with Choice and Confidence – allowing the birthing parents to know all the options and make evidence based informed decisions about what is best for them. While some methods, such as breathing, guided meditations and scripted visualisations, may resonate more with certain individuals than others, they all share the goal trusting in the body’s natural ability to give birth.

How does hypnobirthing work?

Hypnobirthing courses emphasise the powerful connection between the body and mind during childbirth. By creating a calm and positive environment, expectant mothers can facilitate the release of essential hormones like oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins, which aid in the natural progression of labour. Parents are encouraged to explore elements like low light, affirmations, essential oils, and soothing music to create an ideal birthing atmosphere.

It also acknowledges the practical aspects of childbirth, including the various options and interventions that might arise. It encourages expectant parents to weigh the benefits and risks associated with each decision, leading to informed choices aligned with individual needs.

The vital role of the birth partner in providing support during labour and birth is key in hypnobirthing too. By involving the birth partner in the process, expectant parents can enhance the bonding experience and ensure that the mother’s preferences are respected and communicated effectively to medical staff.

Can I use hypnobirthing for a C section?

Yes, you can use hypnobirthing techniques for a C section. The fantastic thing about hypnobirthing is that it’s compatible with any kind of birth, whether that’s a C section, induced labour, instrumental delivery, homebirth or anything else.

When should I start practising hypnobirthing?

You can start practising the techniques for hypnobirthing at any time – you don’t even need to be pregnant as the breathing and meditation exercises often make for a great night’s sleep! It is recommended that if you want to use hypnobirthing for your labour and birth that you look for a class or course when you are between 28 and 32 weeks pregnant which provides adequate time to get to know the techniques and learn more about birth, while also being in a good mindset. Beginning hypnobirthing practices during your pregnancy can also help you to bond with your growing baby as you begin to visualise the birth and postnatal period more clearly.

How do I find a hypnobirthing teacher near me?

The best way to find hypnobirthing teachers or courses near you is to ask for recommendations, from your friends, family, community midwife and even just the community around you. If you search Google for “hypnobirthing courses near me”, you’ll find plenty of suggestions, then you can look for reviews to find one which you think will suit you best.

If you don’t fancy an in person class, there are also online courses as well as free resources available for the different techniques. 

Does hypnobirthing actually work? Is hypnobirthing less painful?

Whether hypnobirthing “works” depends on what you expect as a result of using hypnobirthing practices during labour and birth. In measurable terms, allowing parents to make informed choices about their child’s birth has had brilliant results in more positive pre and postnatal experiences as well as better outcomes. Studies have shown that hypnobirthing practices in 2022 resulted in lower rates of birth intervention, shorter delivery times and higher rates of vaginal deliveries.

An earlier meta-analysis of other studies demonstrated that mothers practising hypnobirthing requested and used less pain medication during labour, suggesting that hypnobirthing either helped them to manage any pain more effectively or that it reduced the pain. We could make several suggestions as to why this is, from placebo effects and reducing anticipation of pain, to actually physically feeling less pain due to the relaxation techniques causing hormonal changes in the body. There is still more research needed into why exactly hypnobirthing is useful in this way, but the amazing thing is that however it works, it does actually work!

How do I inform my midwives that I’m using hypnobirthing?

The best way to let your medical professionals know that you would like to use hypnobirthing techniques is to inform your community midwife and to incorporate it in your birth plan. Your 36 week appointment often has time set aside to discuss your birth plan, but you may wish to let your midwife know earlier or they may recommend hypnobirthing to you at other stages.

Can I collect cord blood while practising hypnobirthing?

Yes, you can absolutely collect cord blood while practising hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing can be used at any type of birth and during any circumstances, whether that’s simply keeping the room around you calm and peaceful, using breathing techniques, or making informed decisions about your birth. Cord blood collection is one of many decisions you are able to make during labour while practising hypnobirthing, alongside delayed cord clamping, skin to skin contact after birth, the golden hour and more. If this is something you’re considering, our guide to the pros and cons of cord blood collection might be useful for you.