Hypnosis is increasingly used to support those who wish to have a natural, gentle birth. In the UK, this is often referred to by the generic term, “hypnobirthing”.
Hypnotherapists will work with pregnant clients to overcome any fear and anxiety around conception, parenting or birth itself. Hypnotherapy can reduce stress and anxiety, not just for the mother, but also for the baby. It can boost the confidence in being a parent and give mothers a sense of control, so the birth experience is the best it can be.
Fertility and Hypnosis
There are many factors that contribute to infertility, some of which may be associated with stress and anxiety about parenthood, or even tokophobia, the fear of childbirth. Hypnosis can help partners to explore and overcome any psychological barriers, to trust their bodies and believe in their ability to conceive.
For couples undergoing fertility treatment, hypnosis can be used as a complementary therapy to reduce harmful stress and to increase a sense of calm during treatment cycles. When combined, this has been shown to increase the chances of conceiving.
Hypnosis and Birth
Hypnosis has been used as a technique to support labour for many years, with the written records dating back to the mid 1800s. More recently people have become increasingly aware of the mind body connection and the importance of relaxation, calmness and a sense of empowerment during labour. Many antenatal courses now offer visualisation or hypnosis as part of the course and studies by the NHS have led to Hypnobirthing being offered by midwives in certain areas.
The use of hypnosis during labour has been shown to:
- Reduce the length of labour
- Reduce the use of pain relief
- Reduce the risk of intervention
- Reduce the risk of postnatal depression
Many people believe that babies born to mothers who used hypnosis and deep relaxation during birthing may also be calmer, sleep better and feed better.
As evidence mounts that hypnotherapy helps mothers feel in control to give birth calmly, more midwives in the UK are training as hypnotherapists.
Several different Hypnobirthing approaches are now available to those seeking hypnotherapy for childbirth, but they are all based on similar principles and techniques. The NCH strongly recommends that you choose a practitioner that is a qualified hypnotherapist. You can find a list of practitioners in our Hypnotherapy directory.
How does it work?
In our culture women are subjected to negative messages in the media and on television about birth so often grow up expecting it to be painful and traumatic. This fearful expectation creates tension in a birthing mother, which in turn creates pain. Where there is fear or apprehension, even at a subconscious, primal level, it will inhibit labour because a mother will resist her baby being born where they perceive there is a threat to their wellbeing.
Hypnosis works at a subconscious level, changing negatively conditioned expectations of birth to a positive one; enable birthing mothers to trust their bodies. Hypnosis also enables mothers to feel in control in a medical environment. Free of fear and feeling in control, the mother’s experience of birth usually becomes much more positive.
What can you expect when you prepare for you birth during hypnosis?
As hypnotherapy is largely hands-off and non-invasive, it is one of the most relaxing, enjoyable and safe therapies to use during pregnancy and birth. Many mothers who have used it report improved sleep and a greater sense of calmness during pregnancy.
Depending on which programme or hypnotherapist you choose, you can expect to attend between 3 to 6 sessions. Many therapists will teach you self-hypnosis to practise at home as well as a recording to listen to on a regular basis.
A hypnobirthing programme will typically include:
- Suggestions to increase your confidence and trust in your body
- Tools and visualisations to let go of any fears or anxieties
- Techniques to manage any discomfort
- Understanding of the stress response on the body during labour
- Suggestions for your partner to use to create a sense of calm in the room
How do I choose the right birth programme for me?
It is important that you choose a Hypnobirthing programme you feel comfortable with, conducted by a hypnotherapist with whom you are able to talk openly. Some fears relating to pregnancy and birth can be intimate and personal, so it is essential that you feel comfortable and relaxed in the sessions. We recommend that you choose a hypnotherapist who has had additional training in hypnosis for birth; many offer free consultations prior to registering for a course.
How do I find a hypnotherapist?
Type your postcode into our hypnotherapist finder to find a hypnotherapist near you.
The National Council for Hypnotherapy is the largest professional association in the UK and all our members have the option to join the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council.