Look in to my eyes…

I’m back at the computer after a few days showing off my nearly six month old daughter to my home town of Birmingham. As Birmingham is now suitably in awe of my small future Nobel prize winner/young musician of the year/masterchef/brain surgeon/astronaut/champion knitter etc etc, I’ve returned to London and put back on my Doula hat (albeit slightly covered in dribble and baby lotion).

For me, when thinking about my impending labour, I wanted to have a toolkit of things I could try to help me achieve the birth I wanted and cope with the sensations of labour. I’ve already mentioned TENS (which I tried and didn’t get on with but know tons of people who swear by it) and I’m turning now to hypnosis.

I’ll hold my hands up and say that I was very sceptical about hypnosis prior to pregnancy imagining crazy old ladies draped in scarves with withered hands chanting frenetically whilst clutching something they claim was the shrivelled finger of Tutankhamen. Fret not, hypnosis designed to help women cope with labour and birth is nothing like this. It is clean and fresh and modern and many, many women have had amazing results with it. Do a bit of googling and you’ll find plenty of (non-sponsored) rave reviews by women who had to bribe midwives to believe they were in labour as they were so calm and quiet – only to give birth two minutes later.

My experience was with Natal Hypnotherapy. I bought a set of CDs that helped with relaxation in pregnancy, birth preparation, birth music and post-natal recovery. I am prepared to bet a substantial sum that not many people listen to the post-natal recovery CD – but it is comforting to know it’s there if the chocolate cure stops working. You can also go on courses or even find private tutors in your area.

Another school is Hypnobirthing, which is similar to the above though founded by an American. As far as I can tell, both have excellent results for many women and a choice of approach is often based on whose voice on the CDs you find less annoying.

For me it wasn’t what I thought hypnosis was all about – I don’t think I was ever hypnotised or off on another planet. But it helped me relax, connect with my baby and go on a daily imaginary journey through a very fast and straightforward labour. There are also various techniques for coping with pain and if nothing else it’s is brilliant for helping you fall asleep when pregnancy insomnia takes hold.

I don’t actively remember using the techniques during labour (but I don’t remember very much at all – I was totally off on ‘Planet Birth’ a place I’ll talk about another time) but I would certainly use the CDs again in a future pregnancy. I do know other women who really, really connected with it and had a wonderful birth experience completely subsumed in beautiful internal world.

I’ve had clients who’ve used both methods and some who’ve made up their own system. All have found it helpful to a greater or lesser degree and it has been particularly useful for women who’ve had a traumatic first birth.

If it sounds like you might be interested it is worth finding out a bit more – if only to cherish the looks of horror on the faces of your elderly female relatives when you tell them you’re planning a hypno-birth.

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The Hackney Doula

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