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  • Sarah Purvey

Hypnobirthing: It’s Not Hippy, It’s Science!

For people that don’t know the benefits of hypnosis and birth preparation, Hypnobirthing sometimes conjures up images of women twirling sticks of fire and chanting or dancing around in the wilderness. Hypnobirthing uses recent scientific research to help women and their birth partners to remain calm during pregnancy and birth, no matter what turn it takes. It also enables couples to make informed decisions, based on science, about their birth.



Hypnosis for general pain relief has been determined to be one of the most effective psychological strategies for management. In regard to childbirth, a systematic review published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia, indicated that women who used hypnosis, rated their pain as less severe and were signifcantly less likely to require pharmacological analgesia (e.g. opiates such as pethidine, morphine, or an epidural).


Hypnobirthing teaches women and their partners how to use hypnosis to obtain deep relaxation quickly and to change the experience of pain. Hypnobirthing helps women and their partners understand how the birthing woman’s brain and body work during the process of birth. This is important to realise, as there are many factors that can stop the uterus from working properly – such as rapid breathing, a noisy birth environment, bright lights, many strangers present in the room, poor support, fear, anxiety, panic or even too much talking in the birth area.


Anxiety, fear or panic during birth, cause poor breathing or hyperventilation, which will stop the secretion of important birthing hormones, and reduce circulation of blood flow and oxygen to the uterus and baby. This can restrict the muscles of the uterus from working in the way they need to, to push baby down the birth canal.  This can lead to terms such as, foetus in distress or failure to progress. So, learning to breathe properly and relax is absolutely paramount.


Hypnobirthing teaches women how to relax the body and mind, via breathing, relaxation and hypnosis, to naturally enable blood flow and oxygen and birthing hormones to do the important job of birthing baby. Further, mothers will need a birth partner to be experienced in this knowledge and these strategies, to help them stay focused on such tools during birth, particularly when the intensity increases and panic may set in. When mothers can birth without anxiety and fear, interventions are far less likely to be required, as the muscles of the uterus work properly and they can walk or stay in upright positions, thereby using the force of gravity for baby to move down the birth canal.


As you can see, in the above descriptions of Hypnobirthing, there is no reference to fire twirling or chanting! There is only the use of science to help women and their birth partners have an easier and calmer birth experience.


Benefits often reported by Hypnobirthing couples are:

  • Calm and alert babies (babies get the benefits of Mums calm hormones)

  • Improved confidence during and after birth

  • Improved success with breastfeeding

  • Better recovery

  • Positive memories of birth


Less intervention during birth and less incidence of postnatal depression (fear of childbirth and traumatic birth, are proven risk factors for postnatal depression). Positivity about the interventions required, as they felt more informed. So, contrary to what we are often told, birth doesn’t have to be about pain, fear and “just taking the drugs!”


Find out for yourself, book a Hypnobirthing class and join the thousands of other couples who have had positive and empowered birth experiences.

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