Hypnobirthing explained - We Are Not All The Same!
Updated: May 17, 2019
With the word ‘Hypnobirthing’ really getting out there now, and more and more practitioners popping up across the country and midwives training in the technique, I thought it would be useful to outline what Hypnobirthing means for me and also to get the message out there that not all Hypnobirthing courses or workshops are the same, or more importantly taught the same!
Firstly, a bit of background - The word HypnoBirthing itself was coined by the creator of the very first programme – Marie Mongan – it originated in America just over 30 years ago. The actual word ‘HypnoBirthing’ is patented and copyrighted in America which means that the word can only be used to describe the original method (Marie Mongan HypnoBirthing) over there. However when the HypnoBirthing method grew and made its way to other countries around the world the copyright didn’t travel with it – meaning that anyone could write and develop their own method of Hypnobirthing and call it just that! There was actually a huge legal battle with Marie Mongan trying to reclaim the name as her own, against other practitioners (who used to affiliated and registered with her brand) who had decided to branch off on their own and create a rival programme - the most famous being KG Hypnobirthing. Unfortunately for Marie, she lost the legal battle and the word ‘Hypnobirthing’ is now used in the UK as a general/generic term and can refer to many different forms of practice and many different methods. For example, as a qualified clinical hypnotherapist I could write a script for pregnancy and childbirth and call it Hypnobirthing.
A quick search of the word Hypnobirthing on Google will bring up a whole host of different courses – to name just a few: KG Hypnobirthing, The Wise Hippo, The Calm Birth School, The Positive Birth Company, Natal Hypnotherapy, The Little Birth Company, and many other smaller methods created by individuals who teach independently. Now not surprisingly they all have very similar concepts and the same message and roughly the same techniques as part of their teaching – relaxation, affirmations, self-hypnosis, breathing techniques etc, however they are all slightly different. But what is even more different, is less about the actual course method and more about who is actually teaching it! (I will explain more and elaborate on this future down…)
So, what do I teach? My courses are based on the Mongan Method of HypnoBirthing; however I also bring in my knowledge and learnings from my Antenatal Educator and Birth Doula qualifications, my knowledge as a Clinical Hypnotherapist, my own birth experience and my experience of teaching for 5 and a half years and attending births as a Doula (and even to an extent I use my Degree in Psychology too). The reason I chose to teach The Mongan Hypnobirthing method is because at the time (nearly 8 years ago when I learnt it) it was the most popular, and very few of the other programmes existed, it was (and still is by many) considered the Gold Standard of Hypnobirthing because it is the original, and some will say at the centre, of what many other methods are based on - I am also looking to educate myself in the KG method as many Cornish midwives are training in this method .
The course is a complete Birth Education Programme that teaches simple but specific self-hypnosis, relaxation and breathing techniques for birth. But that’s not all it’s about! HypnoBirthing is as much a philosophy of birth as it is a technique for achieving a satisfying, relaxing and stress-free method of birthing. During the course you will learn how to tune in to your natural instincts, call upon your body's own natural relaxants thus lessening discomfort. It will help you to eliminate your fears and enter your birthing with calm confidence. But that’s still not all!
The course also educates you on how the body works, what the uterine layers are doing during labour, the importance of the mind body connection, and I also help and support you to write a detailed birth plan (birth preferences). This part for me is such an important part of the course I teach, and over the years I have developed and improved this section of my teaching greatly. For anyone who has done Hypnobirthing with me they will know this is the part where I get most passionate!
Now here’s the bit where I’m going to go back to what I said regarding the difference between the classes/courses and who is teaching it. I will teach you relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, coping strategies, yes, but I will teach you so much more than that too. A massive part of my teaching is about educating you on choice, about making informed decisions that are right for you and your baby. My approach is women/person centred and I am not medically trained! ‘But surely that’s not a good thing to be boasting about?’ I hear you say?! Well actually, yes, it is! Because you see, I am not governed or led by contracts, by guidelines, by procedures or protocols.
I am 100% objective. I will give you both sides, all sides, every angle! I will help you to understand that you always have a choice. That things should not just be ‘done to you’ because a guideline suggests it, and I will help you to understand that language such as ‘right, it’s time to examine you so pop up on to the bed’ is not OK!! I am coming from a place of freedom, where I will give you facts, evidence-based research, and remind you time and time again that it is your body, your baby and that you have a choice, despite what you may be led to believe – I do not have to adhere to local authority/trust guidelines with my teaching. If you don’t like the thought of a vaginal examination and really don’t want one – well then that’s fine, you do not have to have one because they are a choice and not part of mandatory care! I will help and support you in getting the information and education you need to feel confident and comfortable with your decision to decline them. If you want to homebirth after a previous c-section (meaning you would be birthing outside of medical guidelines) then I will completely support you in your decision and adapt my teaching to best suite your needs. My teaching style, my approach and the support I offer will always be objective and not clouded by any other internal or external factors. I never advise!
I guess I want to bring your attention to the difference between a full Hypnobirthing antenatal education course and a one off or one hour workshop or class where you learn hypnobirthing techniques. There are numerous places where you can learn Hypnobirthing techniques - online, at pregnancy yoga or Pilates classes, during some antenatal classes, by reading a book and self teaching, audio recordings - all of which are wonderful and useful and great tools to have and learn during pregnancy. I'm so pleased that these amazing resources are out there and easily accessible to most people. It is most definitely a positive thing to do, whatever way you do it. As you can imagine, there is a huge price difference between all of the above too - ranging from free classes to maybe £15 per session, and if you are learning the techniques as part of a full Hypnobirthing course then it will cost around 200 - 300 pounds on average.
For example, with a free one hour workshop you will touch on some Hypnobirthing techniques and learn some valuable skills, however a full course will cover and teach you so much more. The price of a full course reflects this. I am a small, independent business. My classes are my livelihood, but this is so much more than just a job to me. Unfortunately I am not in a place to offer my time or expertise for free, I do offer a free taster session once a month when possible – however I actually believe to give something true value putting a price on it is important – something being free doesn’t always mean it’s best suited to you. My Hypnobirthing course is 10 hours in total, It is so much more than learning Hypnobirthing techniques.
With the word meaning so many different things to different people I encourage you to do your research when choosing your Hypnobirthing antenatal education – in fact, I implore you to see past the thinking that all hypnobirthing courses, workshops and teachings must be the same. If Hypnobirthing to you is about breathing and relaxation then that’s great – there are many amazing local businesses such who offer pregnancy Yoga, Pilates and mindfulness that can help with that. If it’s learning about the more medical side of birth, to feel empowered with your decisions on pain relief etc then the NHS Bump to Baby sessions or the free sessions offered at Penrice Birth Centre are a great place to start. If Hypnobirthing to you is about listening to guided recordings or online courses, then right here in Cornwall we have a wonderful self-employed independent practitioner who offers a very useful online course. However, if Hypnobirthing means being fully educated and empowered, and learning from a practitioner who prides herself on being women centred, objective, impartial and fully supportive of choice – then give me a call!