Hannah Johnstone is mum to a 4 year old and teaches hypnobirthing to expectant parents through her Calm In Birth classes. But what happens to the skills you learnt after you have had the baby? Hannah discusses how you can keep your hypnobirthing skills to guide you through motherhood.
What is hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing is a complete method of antenatal preparation where you learn about the process of birth, how the mind and body interact and how to keep yourself as calm as possible so your body can do what it was designed to. You also learn about your birth choices and how to make informed decisions. It helps to remove any fears you may have about birth for a more positive and empowering experience. However the benefits are further reaching!
Life-long benefits of hypnobirthing
Relaxation and Breathing
Hypnobirthing uses a breathing technique to ensure that your body produces loads of lovely oxytocin, a hormone which is needed to facilitate the birth process. It’s simply a slow deep breath in through your nose, and then a longer breath out through a relaxed mouth. You practice this everyday so that by the time you give birth it’s second nature and helps you through the powerful surges that you will feel. This breathing is great to continue to use whenever you feel anxious, overwhelmed or just need to feel a little calmer. It will reduce your stress hormones and gives you some space to think more clearly - a powerful tool for the challenges of parenthood! Useful before or during any stressful situation like a job interview or the morning rush.
Breathing on the toilet
Ironically I’ve listed this as point number 2 but the second breathing technique for the “down stage” of labour can help you on the toilet - try it! When your body is bearing down you focus your breath differently to help baby on its way - it’s a short sharp breath in through your nose and a longer focused breath out though the nose (or mouth if you prefer). If you’re constipated it really helps…another useful lifelong tool!
This is key to creating oxytocin needed for birth and through hypnobirthing you learn how to alter your environment to help keep you calm. This can be applied anywhere and at home I love to dim the lights in the evening when I’m winding down, use scents, sounds and touch (a snuggly blanket is perfect or maybe you have a pet) to create a calmer place for myself.
Instincts - hypnobirthing helps you to trust your instincts when it comes for birthing your baby and making decisions that feel right for you. We’ve long lost sight of instincts and using our rational part of the brain often supersedes whatever feeling we may have in our gut. I think that a mother’s instincts are one of the most powerful resources known to us and there’s definitely a time and a place to use these. As mums we can take one glance at our child and know if they are ok or need something often before they tell us, and keeping attuned to this will guide you through parenthood and even tricky decisions that you may be overthinking.
The wonder of your body
Growing a baby and birthing your baby has got to be one of the most powerful and awe-inspiring things you will ever do! Through learning about the perfect design of the process of birth you will have profound respect for your body and all it can do and I now empart that wonder onto my daughter. If she falls and scrapes her knee for example, she notices when it changes and heals. I tell her that her body is amazing and knows exactly how to heal itself. I point out the wonder of her body and all it is capable of.
These are used in hypnobirthing to support a positive mindset around the birth and re-frame any negative associations you might have e.g. if you feel unsure of what you are doing you can use the affirmation “My baby knows how to be born”. Affirmations can be said out loud, written down, displayed around your house and/or listened to when you are in a state of deep relaxation. After you have given birth you can then write your own affirmations to address any fears, negativity or areas you want to develop. I have a list of affirmations saved on my phone for anytime I am feeling a bit lost or disheartened. They help to ground me and focus me on the present. My favourite one at the moment is “Everything is as it should be” but using “I am…” or “I trust…” ones are really powerful.
Informed consent - this is really key to the concept of hypnobirthing and empowering women to make choices that are right for them. Through the BRAIN framework you learn how to find out information so that you can make an informed choice, asking for the Benefits, Risks and Alternatives of any given option, using your Instincts and considering doing Nothing (waiting to see what happens). This can be applied to any decision about your health and gives you control to make decisions that are best for you. You know your body better than anyone and it’s so empowering.
I hope you can now see how much of an investment hypnobirthing is, not just for giving birth but for a lifetime. It’s certainly changed my life!
Hannah is the mum behind Calm In Birth Hypnobirthing offering online and in-person hypnobirthing classes to couples/people who want to feel calm and empowered about birth.