As many of you will know, both Lauren and Jo took hypnobirthing classes with The Wise Hippo. Whilst there are practitioners throughout the UK, we both used Kirsty at Fertile Future (Buckingham, UK). It goes without saying, therefore, that we are huge proponents of the practice, as we both felt we had ‘the right birth(s) on the day’. You can read our birth stories here and here. Jo also wrote an article about positive birth preparation recently. Naturally, hypnobirthing was at the top of her list!
Kirsty has kindly agreed to write for us, giving a fantastic overview of hypnobirthing and busting some of the myths propagated by the media. Please give her a warm welcome…
‘I was at garden party at the weekend and it never ceases to amaze me, how the vast majority of women who are yet to have children have such strong views on what childbirth actually is, with the mind set of needing to pass all responsibility over to the midwives when it comes to their birth experience. They think they have crystal clear expectations of what birth involves: that it’s painful; an ordeal they have to endure and, if all else fails, they can be ‘drugged up’, operated on or, in some cases, even knocked out. Even when women actually fall pregnant, why is it that so many bury their head in the sand and think that this life changing event is something that they don’t have to be a part of? I mean, we worry and sometimes obsess over what goes in to our bodies for 9 months, what stresses and strains we put ourselves under and which lotions and potions to rub on to the ever expanding waistline yet, at the point of birth, we go for the ‘ignorance is bliss’ card, ‘so give me anything and everything’. It just doesn’t make sense, but then when you break it down and get to the root of it all…. you understand it all stems from FEAR.
FEAR of the unknown
FEAR of the pain, which you’ve heard sooooo much about
FEAR based on watching programmes like ‘One born every minute’ (or when characters from your favourite sitcoms give birth with great comedy effect)
FEAR because that’s what you’ve been indoctrinated with and FEAR about what could go wrong.
Gosh, when I found out I was pregnant, my fear was so great I booked in for an elective caesarean, so I know the place from which these women come, really I do. But my nature is one that is curious, and as my pregnancy progressed, something instinctive took over and I investigated what birthing options there were for someone with such fear, and purely by chance I stumbled across hypnobirthing.
The name really does it no favours, I completely agree about that. So, before I go any further, and to dispel any pre-conceived ideas you may have, I’d like to clear a few things up:
* It’s NOT a hippy, airy fairy, wishful thinking philosophy.
* It IS for everyone, even those with an active mind.
* It IS informative and empowering, not just for the mother, but also the birth partner, where they have a clear and defined role to play.
* It’s NOT about lying still in some kind of entranced state, unable to react should you need.
* It DOES prepare you fully for EVERY eventuality, giving you confidence to make ALL your own decisions.
* It DOES give you tools and techniques to support your birthing body, making the likelihood of a natural birth more achievable.
* It CAN be used by women who know they want drugs and/or a caesarean, as every woman has a right to decide how she births. It benefits EVERY WOMAN.
* The skills learned WILL last a lifetime.
* Because of the relaxation practice, your baby WILL benefit whilst in utero and continue to do so earthside.
Things have moved really quite fast in the world of hypnobirthing, the original method came over from The States only about 17 years ago, and was fairly rigid in its philosophy. Very much focused on achieving a natural birth, it lacked the flexibility and open mindedness that labour and birth require. I birthed using this method, and then went on to train in it and helped dozens of couples have very positive experiences. However, in 2014, I decided to switch to a new British version of hypnobirthing, called The Wise Hippo birthing method. Not only was it more relevant to our health care system, but it took on a whole new approach of actually preparing women for ‘the right birth on the day’. With the best will in the world, and all the practice under the sun, not all hypnobirths can go exactly to plan. Mother Nature can throw an unexpected curve ball, and women and their partners need to be able to adapt, go with the flow and embrace the experience for what it is, making informed decisions during those testing moments, and ultimately walking away from their birth knowing that they made the best decisions, that were right for them, based on the knowledge they had at the time. That is what makes The Wise Hippo stand apart from other methods out there.
Now some women and their partners actually shy away from that kind of responsibility, they don’t want to have to be faced with making difficult decisions, and they want their midwife or doctor to do that for them. But what happens when you start being taken down a path you never envisaged, or you start to feel like you really have lost total control? Confusion and fear go into overdrive, with the medical staff put under even more pressure to ‘manage’ your birth as well as your expectations. This tends to be where the feeling of trauma stems from – that lack of empowerment and inability to make an informed decision can leave mental scars, not to mention the physical ones. As I’ve already mentioned, hypnobirthing doesn’t have 100% success rates, in terms of being intervention/medication free but, from my experience as a practitioner, 100% of my clients have reported that their experience was a positive one, even when complications have arisen and tricky decisions have had to be made.
Parenting is all about being prepared, it is a position of great importance and knowledge is power. That all begins during pregnancy, and includes the birth bit too. Ultimately, your preparation is your responsibility. You wouldn’t expect to climb Everest with no training or knowledge, just relying on your guide, would you? Well, birth is the same, and if you can get rid of the fear factor along the way too, then you’ll be setting yourself up to achieve a positive experience, no matter what that might entail.’
Kirsty, writing for The Mother Side x