One of the most common worries women have when it comes to pregnancy is the fear of pain during childbirth. If you've not been through it before it's a completely unknown entity and if you have, sometimes the memory of that pain can be enough to turn you right off.
There are a few things available to women to manage childbirth pain; nitrous oxide gas, pethidine or an epidural being the most common, but there are many women who don't like the idea of using drugs and are seeking alternative methods.
In the last few years there has been an increase of Australian women using a different technique, one that is completely drug free and that has been praised and recommended by mothers all over the world, including celebs Gisele Bunchen, and Jessica Alba and Miranda Kerr hypnobirthing.
Hypnobirthing was developed in 1989 by Marie Mongan, an American teacher and counsellor, and is based on the philosophies and teachings in the bookChildbirth Without Fearwritten by English obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read in 1945. He was a firm believer in natural childbirth and recognised that fear and anxiety during childbirth was a huge factor in the amount of pain experienced by his patients.
According to clinical hypnotherapist Rhiannon Zavattiero, the actual hypnobirthing process is quite simple and very easy to learn. "The hyphonbirthing program is a five-week course where you and your birthing partner learn breathing and self-hypnosis techniques that help you overcome fear and anxiety surrounding the birth.
"You get an understanding of how the birthing muscles work in perfect harmony when your body is sufficiently relaxed, and you learn how to trust your body. As well as the books and the classes there are also CDs that you listen to which help to program positive expectations and associate positive feelings with the birthing process."
Although hypnobirthing does not guarantee a completely pain-free birth, what it does provide are methods to stay calm and relaxed and unafraid of the whole birthing process.
"It's about learning how to manage your fear and relax yourself so that you're focussed on the birth rather than the pain," says Rhiannon. "We really don't like to use the term pain-free because there's still a lot of effort and work that goes into giving birth, but it really does help to eliminate distress."
Sarah Phillips, a Melbourne mum of three, agrees. "I had natural births with all my kids, but it was only with the last one that I tried hypnobirthing. It was a remarkable difference. Sure I could feel it in the sense that you're pushing a large baby out of your body, but I was so calm and so at ease with everything that it was really easy to manage."
As for the common misconception that hypnotherapy will put you in some sort of a trance, Rhiannon laughs. "No, we won't turn you into a chicken. You're fully conscious and aware of your surroundings, you're just really relaxed and mindful of your body and what it's doing, but without the fear."
"Hypnobirthing can be taken into other aspects of your life too," says Rhiannon. "It helps you generally relax and is really good for helping you sleep, which is important for new mums. And when mum is calm and relaxed so is the baby."
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There have also been studies that show women who use the hypnobirthing technique tend to have much shorter labours and less medical intervention during birth. They are also less likely to suffer from post natal depression, will find breastfeeding and bonding an easier process and it can even reduce the risk of having a premature baby.
Have you tried hypnobirthing? Share you experience with us in the comments below.