I am often asked the question ‘Does Hypnobirthing really work?' Honestly, this is something I too wondered before I began working with women who had learnt Hypnobirthing. Before my training I knew little about Hypnobirthing, but what I did know that was the two women who I had previously cared for during labour who were Hypnobirthing managed their labours brilliantly, and appeared to be very calm and relaxed. They both progressed to beautiful births and felt very positive about their experiences. These two women led me to research Hypnobirthing more, and to eventually study to become a Hypnobirthing teacher.
As a midwife we are trained to look for the research or evidence when looking at whether or not something works, and we are very much focussed on the outcomes for women and babies (and then what we can do to improve these outcomes). If we are looking at whether or not hypnobirthing works, we need to really consider what the outcome or result is that we want to measure.
For me, my outcomes that I want to measure aren’t how many women birth without analgesia. It’s not how many don’t feel pain. And its not even how many women have a vaginal birth or caesarean. Everyone has different goals for their birth experience, and what may be ‘positive’ for one couple may not be for another. Whether you had an epidural or not isn’t a measure of whether Hypnobirthing worked for you, at least not as far as I’m concerned.
There are two outcomes which drive me when teaching this course and that are always in the back of my mind when I’m planning my classes and providing follow up support to couples.
Did you feel fully prepared and confident about your labour?
Once you have had your baby – when you look back on your birth do positive feelings come to mind?
This is how I ‘measure’ if Hypnobirthing works. Obviously this isn’t a research study, but this is what I consider as my ‘outcomes’ from my childbirth preparation courses. For me, if after attending classes with me and implementing what we discuss you feel prepared, calm, and excited about your birthing day, then I feel like Hypnobirthing has worked. When you look back on your birth and feelings of power, strength, trust, connection with your partner, self-belief, or just a general feeling of happiness and positivity come to mind then in my eyes Hypnobirthing has worked for you. Below are two of my favourite comments from couples that I have worked with.
“I’m sooo looking forward to the labour, I know that all the techniques are going to help us have a calm and easy birth.’
‘Things didn't go as planned but we took each turn in a calm informed way so hypnobirthing DEFINITELY helped. She was born a perfectly happy, TOTALY CHILLED little hypno bub :) I am proud at the way I handled things and overall we both feel that it was a positive birthing experience’
This is all that I want. I want the couples who attend classes with me to feel good about their experience. There are far too many women and partners who literally feel sick to their stomach when they think about their labour and birth, and who keep replaying these negative feelings in their minds for many weeks and often even years later. Far too many women are also suffering from PTSD from their birth experience which just breaks my heart. This is why I’m so passionate about positive birth and helping you to achieve that, no matter what turn your birthing takes.
If you’re the type of person who likes concrete evidence and proof, then this study is great. It looks at Hypnobirthing and a number of outcomes including epidural use and caesarean rates. It has found that women who enrolled in a two day childbirth education course that focused on evidence based pain relieving techniques like meditation, breathing, relaxation and acupressure (all of which we cover in our Hypnobirthing Australia course) had a 65 per cent lower epidural rate and a 44 per cent lower caesarean rate than women who attended standard hospital based antenatal classes. Of course there needs to be much more research done in this field but I feel that this is a great start.
The outcomes that are important to me may be different to what is important to you, and that’s okay. In my first Hypnobirthing session we do an exercise where couples discuss what a positive birth experience means to them. This is always different for each couple, and your goals for your birth aren’t going to be the same as your sister, best friend, mum or anyone else! They are entirely up to you, and only you can be the one who decides what a positive birth experience means for you.
So, to answer the question: Does Hypnobirthing work? From my point of view – absolutely! From the women who I work with - the feedback is a resounding yes. And from the small amount of research that we have it indeed appears that Hypnobirthing does work!
I would love to help you achieve your goals so that you too can achieve a positive birth experience that you can look back on with happiness and joy. Click here to find out more about class options and how you can learn Hypnobirthing with me.