Can I do hypnobirthing? Is there anyone who it isn't suitable for?

Yes, anyone can use hypnobirthing. It is true that people do find it more useful than others; but this is more to do with if they have an open mind and most importantly how much they practice in the lead up to the birth. It also doesn't matter what type of birth or birth setting you intend to have.

Is it just airy fairy nonsense?

Short answer: no! It is grounded in science and its benefits are backed up by research. It stems from The Fear-Tension-Pain Theory by Grantly Dick-Read back in 1933, who explored the relationship between a woman's state of mind and the way her physiology works during childbirth. He was held as one of the earliest pioneers for natural birth. He attempted to move away from the medical model of birth to return women to their rightful gift of uninterrupted childbirth by reigniting the philosophy that childbirth is a natural, healthy event, and women and babies know how to birth.

There is also a lot of scientific theory underpinning the use of hypnosis in childbirth. At the beginning of The KGHypnobirthing course I encourage you to ask questions or do your own research on anything I say that you don't understand or feel a bit sceptical about it, so as to come from a place of being informed, rather than having preconceptions.

For those of you keen to do your own research, I would recommend the following reputable and mainstream scientific journals which suggest the efficacy of hypnobirthing, and are touched on in the course:

Harmon, T.M., Hynan, M.T., & Tyre, T.E. (1990). Improved obstetric outcomes using hypnotic analgesia and skilled mastery combined with childbirth education. Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology, 58(5), 525-530.

Women allocated to a hypnosis birth preparation group, when compared to controls: reported reduced pain, had shorter stage 1 labours, used less medication, babies had higher Apgar scores, and had more spontaneous deliveries.

Jenkins, M.W., & Pritchard, M.H. (2001). Hypnosis: practical applications and theoretical considerations in normal labour. Journal of Family Practice. 50, 441-443.

Both first time and second+ time mothers who received 6 sessions of birth focussed hypnotherapy had significantly shorter first and second stage labours, and used less pain medication than mothers in a matched control group.

Lycett, A. Hypnosis during pregnancy and birth: the science and clinical applications (Lecture). Royal Society of Medicine (2012)

Over a period of time data on women having babies in Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust was collected. Hypnobirthing mothers had 84% normal births compared with 64% in non hypnobirthing mothers. The emergency C section rates were 4% and 15% respectively.

What is the best time to do hypnobirthing?

As a rough guide, I suggest a good time would be anytime from your 2nd trimester onwards, anywhere between 20 and 34 weeks gestation. That being said, the key to effective hypnobirthing, like running a marathon or learning an instrument, is practice. The more you practice hynobirthing, the easier it will be to use on the day you give birth. That's why booking your classes early (even as early as 15 weeks) is absolutely fine. KGH can be learnt at any time during pregnancy though, so if you are interested in a course and you are expecting to meet your baby soon, there will still be many benefits, even as late as up 2 weeks before your due date!

If you are 34+ weeks get in touch as soon as you can and I can provide a private, more intensive course.

I saw someone 'put under' by a stage hypnotist once. Is it like that?

No, you will not see me reach for my pocket watch while hearing me say ‘you are feeling veerrryy sleeeepy’ ! There will be no ‘making people eat an onion believing it to be an apple’ in the class. We all actually go into hypnosis at least twice a day – just before you fall asleep and just before waking up, and it is really just a term for being deep relaxed. When you are in a state of deep relaxation, you are still conscious and in control. You are more suggestible, but only to things you are happy or open minded about. This is one of the reasons that hypnotherapy and hypnobirthing works so well, as you can work on releasing the entrenched pattern of behaviours you want to change (ie smoking) or subconscious fears (ie flying, or in our case giving birth) whilst in this state. Because you are still in control, you can always choose to exit the state of relaxation if you hear something you don't like.

Can I use it if I'm giving birth in hospital? I heard it was just for home-births.

Absolutely! It would be unfair of me to pretend that unforeseen circumstances never arise. Birth is unpredictable. For this reason, I emphasise the benefits of using these techniques no matter how your birth unfolds, whether it was you birth plan A, B or C. Hypnobirthing can be used in any setting as much of the benefit is down to what you do and how you nurture your state of mind. Many hypnobirthing mothers do choose a home birth; and the course discusses the pros and cons of all the choices you have regarding where you give birth.

I'm a second time mum and I had a terrible first birth. Would hypnobirthing make it better second time round?

If you have had a traumatic first birth, hypnobirthing will certainly be able to help you get into a good headspace for your next birth. Hypnobirthing is designed to help overcome fears about birth, and a lot of your fear probably comes from your difficult first experience. The course is designed to build your confidence in your body's ability to give birth through learning basic physiology, and also to learn to be able to relax your mind in order to let your body do the job it was designed to do. Outside of this, I also offer a listening service for parents who want to debrief a difficult birth, which can be so helpful moving forwards to help prepare for subsequent births. If this is something you would be interested in, it would certainly complement a hypnobirthing course with me.

What about the cost?

Qualified Hypnobirthing practitioners are highly skilled. I complement this with my skills and experience as a qualified social worker, a certified doula who has supported many women while they birth, an antenatal teacher with Birth Wise, and a Mum of two who used hypnobirthing at both births! However, if you feel that the fees are genuinely not viable for you at this time, please do get in touch to see if we can arrange a way they can be adapted to your needs. I feel passionately that everyone should have the opportunity to have a positive birth experience, and would not wish for my fees to stop anyone from having this opportunity.

"When you change the way you think about birth, the way you birth will change"

Marie Mongan

I really don't like talking in groups, will I be made to talk in front of everyone?

No, you won't be made to do anything that you aren't comfortable with. I like to keep group courses small (maximum 5 Mums with their partner) to create a more personal and intimate learning environment. Sharing your ideas and asking questions is a valued part and will hopefully help you get more out of it. I will lead some group relaxations and for the benefit of partners, I do ask for a volunteer to demonstrate how to read certain scripts. Even so, groups are not for everyone, so if they really aren't for you then I would recommend private classes instead to give you the space to comfortably discuss what you are learning.

Free Taster of 'The Hypnobirthing Book' by Katherine Graves

Have a read of the first chapter for free to get a flavour of what the course is about.

What is a hypnobirth actually like?

Here's an interview with a KGHypnobirthing mum to give you an idea!

Does my partner/birth partner need to attend?

Ideally, it is best if your partner can attend the course. Hypnobirthing acknowledges the importance of your partner and the course contains a significant amount of content for them specifically to them; to enable them to feel more knowledgeable about birth, the techniques, and what their role is in supporting you. This helps Dads/partners have a clearly defined role which helps them feel useful and in-control. It is very common for Dads/partners to come along to hypnobirthing classes feeling sceptical, but they almost always leave feeling enthusiastic. As a birth doula I have seen first-hand how couples who practice and prepare together antenatally, find it much easier to implement together during labour and birth, which inevitably brings them closer as a couple.

That being said, there are of course situations where people attend alone for a multitude of reasons, and plenty of solo attendees have fantastic births using their hypnobirthing skills.

Would just reading a book be as helpful?

Reading a hypnobirthing book will have some benefits. However this has limitations as there are parts of doing a recognised course with a qualified hypnobirthing teacher that you will inevitably miss out on. These would include:

  • The involvement of your partner. Your birth partner (whether it is the baby's father, your Mum, your best friend or your doula) has an essential role at a hypnobirth, and is crucial to its effectiveness. Reading a book alone may limit his/her understanding of the importance of their role in helping you to use the techniques. By attending a course together, he/she is engaged from the beginning. If you do not have a birth partner, the course can equip you with tips to ensure that those you come into contact with during your birth are aware you are hypnobirthing and how they can best support you.
  • Support tailored to your needs. I can answer questions that may be outside of what you can find in a book; making it bespoke to your needs.
  • Designed to suit your learning style. During the course I will use a variety of resources to keep the course up beat and interesting. This may include handouts, visual props, guided relaxations, videos, diagrams, flip chart and power point.
  • Building confidence and commitment. Having a consistent, supportive and positive presence throughout your birth preparation can really help boost your confidence in your ability to birth, commitment to using the learned techniques, and emotional preparedness for the birth.
  • Having someone there. Once you are enrolled on a course, I am also available by phone or email should you have any questions or want some support.
  • Meeting like-minded parents. Group size is kept small to provide a personal and friendly environment where meeting others is easy.

“We have a secret in our culture, it’s not that birth is painful, it’s that women are strong.”

Laura Stavo Harm

Can you guarantee that childbirth will be pain free?

I never promise any parent that hypnobirthing give you a pain free birth (I’m sorry!). But I can guarantee you that we will challenge the way you perceive pain and change your view about its uses. The level of comfort or discomfort a woman may feel during labour depends on a lot of factors, some of which you can influence easily such as how much she practices hypnobirthing before she goes into labour and some less so, such as the baby's position. The sessions I teach provide every parent with what they need for a calm and relaxed labour, no matter how her birth unfolds, which should have a positive effect on the level of comfort they experience.

Does hypnobirthing mean I shouldn't have any pain relief during labour?

No at all. There are no ‘should’ and ‘should not’ in hypnobirthing, just informed choices. But you may find you don’t need it! You will be provided with information about the uses and side effects of all possible drug and non-drug pain relief interventions in order to make an informed choice. Most women who choose to hypnobirth find they need less or no other 'pain relief' during labour. This is because they are relaxed and so feel less pain, and feel less need for relief; not because they are expected to just 'grin and bear it'. In certain situations, 'pain relief' can be a really positive thing, and so we choose to keep an open mind about this.

What if I have a caesarean birth?

Hypnobirthing is not just for natural births without intervention or 'pain relief'; it is about helping a mother relax during any type of birth. As a doula I have supported women having elective belly births to helps them stay relaxed and focused. Being relaxed can be really helpful in keeping baby calm as well as creating the best environment for hormones to thrive that help set off breastfeeding to a good start.

What will I learn on the KGH course?

  • Breathing exercises
  • Deep relaxations
  • Visualisations
  • Very effective work to release fear and build confidence
  • Comforting massage
  • How the father can be your powerful protector and support
  • How your body is designed to give birth with efficiency and comfort
  • Knowledge and information about the whole process
  • How ‘the system’ that you find yourself in works, and how to work with it to achieve the best result for you
  • A simple practice regime to support you at home
  • Understanding how the mind and body work together