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Hypnobirthing- is it always positive? Worth a try?

(28 Posts)
Minnie74 Tue 16-Aug-11 15:56:07

I'm 22 weeks and am starting to look into antenatal classes. I've heard good things about hypnobirthing and as I have a really really low pain threshold smile am wondering whether to give it a try.

It is pretty expensive though if it doesn't always work. In saying that I've never heard about any negative experiences from it.

if you do it would you need to go to ordinary antenatal classes too? All the NCT's are full round me so would need to go to a private one anyway.

I really would like to think it would work as I don't want to be freaking out as I'm imagining I will be at the moment!

hayesgirl Tue 16-Aug-11 16:27:42

I got the book and cd and found the book especially helpful just to ease any fears I had about giving birth. I haven't actually given birth yet but I am due anytime now and not in the slightest bit nervous or scared.

Natal hypnotherapy is also something I've done and the cd's have been helpful too.

I'm not sure whether the classes would be worthwhile at the cost, don't know anyone that's ever done them. Maybe try pregnancy yoga - uses a lot of the same breathing techniques.

lucindapie Tue 16-Aug-11 17:13:07

I decided to take another form of hypnosis called 'hypnobabies' as I decided hynobirthing was a bit expensive for me. Also hypnbabies seemed more in depth than hypnobirthing, and I like the fact that with hypnobabies you can be in hypnosis while you are moving around and bouncing on a birthing ball etc. With hypnobirthing it seemed like you had to lie on a bed for the whole birth, and the book even discourged walking while in labour which seemed a bit strange to me. I'm doing hypnobabies as a home study course, and although I haven't given birth yet I feel very confident now and have almost zero anxiety about my approaching birth.

LynetteScavo Tue 16-Aug-11 17:18:02

Even if hypnobirthing doesn't work with this birth (...for whatever reason. For me, a hideous cackling midwife meant I couldn't focus), you will have the skills to help you with subsequent births. (I had a pain free birth with DC3)

Pippaandpolly Tue 16-Aug-11 17:35:53

Hypnobirthing doesn't suggest you lie on a bed - my class teacher gave loads of suggestions for active positions. I think the classes were worth the money but it's hard to say as I haven't had the baby yet...! They were definitely enjoyable and it feels like a useful skill to have. I will report back in approx. 6 weeks!

LynetteScavo Tue 16-Aug-11 17:39:56

I certainly didn't lie on a bed. Most of my hypnobirthing was done while bouncing on the birthing ball, in the bath, or on all fours.

I did all the practicing while lying on my bed, though.

treehugga Tue 16-Aug-11 19:37:40

There are a few different kinds of hypnobirthing around. One was invented in the US and has trade-marked the name Hypnobirthing. There are UK practitioners of this, and it's what I did the first time I had a baby (having previously used hypnotherapy to help me with interview nerves - with great success). I spent about £300 for 2 or maybe 3 Sunday sessions. You got to practice breathing, practice the relaxation scripts ("Imagine a beach" etc) etc, all with your partner. You also got a folder with ideas and a CD to listen to.

You had to do quite a lot of practice in the weeks running up to birth, and this is what's crucial. I didn't practice enough and when I went into labour it completely left my head and I didn't do it at all. Felt like I'd wasted my money as I didn't do the practice.

So, this time around I went for a cheaper option which was to buy the Natal Hypnotherapy CDs, which actually suit me much better and happen to be UK-based and just somehow more up my street. You just listen to them as often as possible and practice visualising the birth and relaxing with contractions. Fundamentally they're all relaxation and fear-release, because - as you might know - fear is what makes the contractions painful.

Separately from the whole issue of hypnobirthing, there's been a lot of studies into pain, and pain thresholds. The conclusions I've seen say that there's no such thing as different pain thresholds - everyone says ouch at the same point when they're given incrementally stronger electric shocks - but there are hugely different cultural responses to pain. It's like if you tread on a piece of glass it really hurts A LOT, but if you tread on a piece of glass when you're running to catch a bus, it hurts a lot less.

This is great news for childbirth as there's an element of mind (or attitude) over matter. That's why overcoming the fear is so crucial and you can get your head into a space where the pain is something you can feel confident you can handle and respond to in a way that helps you rather than makes you more tense. There's been masses written about this and I'm no expert at all, but the book I like is Birth Crisis by Sheila Kitzinger which gives practical ways to respond to the intensity of contractions so the gear & adrenalin don't make you tense up and therefore experience it more painfully. Ina May Gaskin is also fab on this.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Tue 16-Aug-11 19:51:45

i'm listening to the natal hypnotherapy cd in prep for dc2's birth in seven weeks. Am feeling very positive about it.I'd recommen reading ina may gaskin to calm your "head" nerves iyswim.

treehugga Tue 16-Aug-11 19:54:29

Sorry, I should have said fear is what makes the contractions more painful.

Also, according to Sheila Kitzinger, the most effective pain relief comes from the emotional support of a trusted, present, continuous birth partner - preferably female.

As I had a pretty scary and painful birth last time, I've really tried to get into a better head space with it this time. Hence the massive post!

LynetteScavo Tue 16-Aug-11 20:34:20

Although I agree fear make contractions more painful, I went into my first birthw with a very gung-ho attitude. After all, millions of women had had babies before me, and gone on to have more babies. It couldn't hurt that much.

But left labouring by myself (and a very nervous DP) in a hospital ward resulted in some very painful contractions. I'm sure a few comforting words would have helped, but it was my first baby, and he was quite large, so it was never going to be a walk in the park.

There are so many aspects which result in a good birth or a "bad" birth.

The mindset of the mother .

The atmosphere of the birth setting.

The support the mother receives.

The position of the baby.

The size of the baby's head.

And many more.

I learned far more at hypnobithing classes than I did at NHS or NCT classes.

Best money I ever spent.

ninjasquirrel Tue 16-Aug-11 20:39:11

Not quite answering your question but I found the book Birth Skills by Juju Sundin really really useful - it's very practical approach.

MrsHoolie Tue 16-Aug-11 21:24:48

I did the natal hypnotherapy CD and it was helpful but after 2 days in labour it had it's limitations grin.
I didn't do private classes though.
I think if you have quick straightforward labour then it will be more beneficial but after 12 hours stuck at 4cm an epidural became more useful!
Having said all that I did use it for my 2nd labour as it helped me remain calm (ish).

Zimbah Tue 16-Aug-11 21:41:41

I did the natal hypnotherapy CD too, I found it useful in the early stages of labour but later on I found the TENS machine and gas and air much more useful! But I think it kept me calm and the breathing helped.

I wouldn't worry specifically about your pain threshold though as labour is such a different situation to normal pain. I consider myself to have a low pain threshold i.e. I feel faint and sick if I so much as stub my toe, and have often been totally incapacitated by period pain, but labour was a different story - yes incredibly painful but I didn't feel faint or anything like that.

MonaPomona Tue 16-Aug-11 23:00:06

I did hypnobirthing for my first and have done natal hypnotherapy for the 2nd (due next week).
I think I prefer the natal hypnotherapy workshop and cds - bit less airy fairy and only £95 for the workshop day. I think hypnotherapy is fab but as others have said you need to practice a lot and you need your birth supporter to help you remember your triggers to get back to the relaxed state.
I think the hypnobirthing really helped me - 1st labours can be long and mine was over 24 hours; it was really intense but not painful perhaps because so long and at home so more easy to relax - I also used TENS and had some gas and air but I dont think I really needed that it just made me less focussed.
So, I really recommend hypno whatever, but I think you need to do the course/workshop not just read the books and listen to cds to get the maximum benefit.

msbuggywinkle Wed 17-Aug-11 07:45:07

I did Natal hypnotherapy (just the CDs) and had a pain-free, chilled and happy birth with DD2, who was posterior brow presentation.

I was just happy, excited to meet her and very relaxed. It was definitely the hypno that made the difference.

Secondtimelucky Wed 17-Aug-11 07:47:05

I had a long, slow, intervention-y birth with DD1. She was back to back and the contractions were all in my back.

For DD2 I planned a homebirth, with a doula, and practiced the natal hypnotherapy. I don't know DD2's positioning, but strongly suspect she was back to back or similar too, because again the contractions were intense, intense back pain. I found that I kind of had to (for want of a better phrase) 'go into battle' with my labour - I found positioning and loud vocalising were what got me through. I couldn't let it wash over me the way I wanted to. That said, I found the techniques somewhat useful for relaxing fast and deeply between contractions. I did also manage a totally intervention and drug free homebirth, so I was over the moon how the labour turned out!

Interestingly, a couple of weeks ago I had a 24 hour tummy bug with nasty stomach cramps. That was much more of a muscle pain, rather than the back pain in my labours (where it didn't feel there was anything I could relax to make it better). I used some of the relaxation techniques then. Sounds silly I know, but it really did reduce the pain a lot. I think if I'd had a different sort of labour pain I would have found hypnotherapy more useful.

hayesgirl Wed 17-Aug-11 08:19:17

As moonface said Definitely read Ina May Gaskin - guide to childbirth. Really inspirational birth stories in the first half together with really good advice on birthing positions etc in the second half.

Minnie74 Wed 17-Aug-11 15:44:07

Thanks everyone for your thoughts. It's really useful to read different ideas. I'm thinking the practising might be a problem as I'm rubbish at doing things regularly! But it does seem worth the effort if it helps relax me even just a bit. I think i need to give it a go smile

Poppet45 Wed 17-Aug-11 16:21:32

Minnie I think it depends how cynical you are. I'm far far too cynical for my own good and after listening to CDs I'd borrrowed off a friend telling me to call it an 'opening sensation' and not a contraction or pain, I was left cold because I couldn't pursuade myself to believe that. I'd second looking at the JuJu Sundin book. It calls a spade a spade, and says yes contractions hurt, sometimes a lot, but have you thought of doing this, this or this to make your mind concentrate on something other than the pain. When I went into labour I didn't remember a thing of the hypnobirthing not a surprise because I'd only listened to it half heartedly and did indeed find contractions hurt so was instantly alienated from it as soon as my labour began, and I didn't even want to use my yoga positions and breathing. But the vocalising and counting, and splashing, stomping and mental affirmations she suggested were right there. Also because she suggests you learn an arsenal of different techniques you can use different ones depending on what you end up preferring on the day, and also on the setting of your labour. It doesn't have to be perfect... if you end up on your back strapped to a bed, or in a loud and distracting environment (like a maternity unit) then you still have a lot you can do to make yourself feel much better. I didn't need gas and air til 7cms because of that book.

TransatlanticCityGirl Wed 17-Aug-11 22:26:50

I did both hypnobirthing and NCT classes - two completely different things in my opinion!

Hypnobirthing helped me to keep calm and positive in the weeks/months leading up to the birth. It required a ton of practice however. I cannot say if it works, as I ended up being induced (2.5 weeks overdue) and only ever had minor contractions (as I used the only reliable form of total pain relief - an epidural - administered at the same time as the drip), however my gut feeling based on what I did feel was that it would have helped in the early stages or for a quick labour only. I was probably kidding myself if I thought that alone would have been sufficient (and I have a HIGH pain threshold).

I have been able to use the techniques in other areas of my life so not a total waste of money. However should I ever have another child I will be going for an epidural all the way. It is the most amazing invention ever and I'd feel silly for trying anything else.

cardamomginger Thu 18-Aug-11 09:52:42

I tried natal hypnotherapy - books and CD, not classes. It was great for helping me to keep calm when I was in the early stages at home. But when things really kicked off it was absolutely useless and I felt terrified that everything I thought was going to help, didn't and couldn't. Perhaps classes would have made a difference, but knowing what I know about why the birth was the way it was, I doubt it. That said, I'd always recommend that people do it and learn the techniques - you never know, it could really help, and there's nothing to lose! If I have another child, it will need to be ELCS - I know that natal hypnotherapy exists for CS and I may well look into this to help me through it.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Thu 18-Aug-11 13:01:43

transatlantic epidurals are not as reliable as you say. They do not always work, and sometimes only work partially, or can go wrong. They can be fantastic but it is only fair to point out that they don't have a 100% success rate.

jellybeans208 Thu 18-Aug-11 21:02:03

The midwife told my husband she said ohh shes doing well has she had professional hypnobirthing classes. My husband went nah shes just like that. I must of looked like a nutter but I was talking and humming to myself all the way through. I was a bit of a clubber when I was younger so used to the out of your body type thing from drugs so a bit of gas and air and I recreated the same feeling. I do it quite often when I am sick or doing something I dont like. I did it in the water pool and tbh it was relaxing and wasnt really painful.

It was relaxing as it was my husband and I on our own. We both did a bit of the gas and air and I was floating round the pool naked on one of those floats in the dark. It was honestly like a shared surreal experience with my husband (realise that sounds sickly!) it depends if your a bit of a hippy type and like mind over matter. We both enjoyed it though and it was a nice experience

TransatlanticCityGirl Thu 18-Aug-11 22:37:51

MoonFace, they may not have a 100% success rate but they work MOST of the time (and when they don't work initially they can often be fixed), and most importantly, they worked for ME! I had a pain free labour AND I was mobile (walking around my room, going to the loo etc). Not everyone needs to have one, but for me it's the only form of pain relief I will trust next time around.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Fri 19-Aug-11 07:23:48

that's right. It worked for you. It in not "the only reliable form of total pain relief".

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