What is Hypnobirthing?


26 May 2024

What is Hypnobirthing?

My Expert Midwife
What is Hypnobirthing?

The current discussions in the media about the state of maternity services are depicting traumatic and frightening images in a bid to attract readers/viewers/clicks. As Midwives we know that this can trigger worry and anxiety for couples birthing their babies, sending the message that birth is a scary experience which, if they come through safely, is nothing short of a miracle.

Hypnobirthing is a generic term which encompasses a range of techniques covering breathing, relaxation, and visualisation, but which can also extend further to release fear, stress and worry to achieve a more relaxing and empowering birth, whether that be pain-free, natural vaginal, alongside medications or at a caesarean section. Hypnobirthing trains you to be able to switch off that higher part of your brain that is problem-solving and thinking to rely on the subconscious that just gets the job done.


Hypnobirthing is evidence-based and can be both reflective and powerful. Women who have learnt these techniques report they have been invaluable for helping them to cope and focus during labour and birth, as well as empowering them to make informed decisions about their care. Hypnobirthing can be useful for all women by supporting them to retain control, reduce anxiety and tension and for some to achieve a drug-free birth. Women who have had a traumatic experience with their first birth are often signposted to a hypnobirthing class for their second birth by healthcare professionals who recognise their fears, anxieties, and concerns. Many women report that they have used hypnobirthing very successfully to help ground themselves and meditate when facing an operative or assisted birth or when using alongside medication for pain relief.


The quality of hypnobirthing classes varies massively and as such with any antenatal education, it is important that you select carefully to meet your specific needs and wants. Select a Midwife who has trained to be a hypnobirthing instructor, or a hypnobirthing instructor who specialises in obstetrics. Some classes will provide only the most basic of information, whereas others are far more in-depth offering everything you need to know to give you the tools to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your baby. A full antenatal training course taught by suitably qualified instructors should support you in navigating your way through the maternity system, which is designed to be a safe system for all pregnant women.


What Techniques Are Taught In A Hypnobirthing Class?

Classes throughout the country vary and it is important that, in the same way you do your preparation before booking a wedding, you should do your due diligence before booking any antenatal education; hypnobirthing included. Think about what is important to you and consider if they offer any, or all, of the following. As a bare minimum, you should be looking for:


Hypnobirthing - simple and thoughtful breathing techniques.

Visualisation - supporting the breathing techniques.

Relaxation - profound and effective techniques.


You may have additional requirements specific to your personal circumstances so may need:

  • Work to release fear and build your confidence
  • A clear and effective role for the birth partner if the woman chooses to have one
  • Simple and clear techniques that can be practised at home daily lasting 10-15 minutes to instil and perfect them
  • Information to support you in navigating your local maternity system and enable you to make informed decisions choices and understand the implications of those decisions



In summary, hypnobirthing is not just about trying to have a pain-free, unmedicated birth, it is about taking back control around decisions you may be faced with during your pregnancy, labour, birth and postnatal period. With the right tools Hypnobirthing can support you to keep anxieties at bay and maintain a grounded and calm approach to pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond.

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