Yes, really. I always enjoy watching the flicker of confusion on people’s faces when my pal and HAPPy Bumps partner in crime Jade breezily tells people “I hypnobirthed a C-section”.
Cogs turning, I imagine they are thinking she’s some nutter who had major abdominal surgery without pain relief, possibly at home… No.
Because hypnobirthing is about so much more than dealing with pain. It came up in my Pregnancy Relaxation Group a couple of weeks ago too, as one of the mums mentioned to another considering a “Natural Section”. Granted, that title is a bit more misleading.
A post on a local mums group yesterday really got me thinking about the volume of women who might be missing out on the benefits that hypnobirthing could offer them if they are opting for a planned section.
I have worked with lots of women who rave about the way hypnobirthing supported them in a birth that was often far removed from what they had hoped for, or would have liked. Usually, the decision to go for a section comes after their learning, but there’s no reason that women with more foresight can’t share these incredible benefits.
So here’s a bit of insight into how hypnobirthing makes a difference when a section is the right choice for you and your baby.
A huge element of hypnobirthing is working to reprogramme our minds, to overcome fear that has been cultivated over a lifetime of conditioning. This is achieved through hypnosis (a state of very deep relaxation, a trance like state that is familiar to us all), and the opportunity this provides to access and alter our deep rooted beliefs. In preparation for a vaginal birth, this is combined with a detailed look at the fact that birth is generally very safe, and developing an understanding of how the body works in labour.
The same can be applied for a section- if this is the route you have chosen (and no matter what we think- we are always making a choice, more on that later), then of course it’s because, on balance, in your particular circumstances, this is the safest and most positive option for you and your baby. If this is our rational truth, we can work with this in the same way as above. In fact, here’s a relaxation MP3 from KG Hypnobirthing specifically designed to bring comfort to mamas planning a section.
There’s also this more generic, but really fab fear release MP3 for an opportunity to work through your personal concerns and support confidence building.
2. Breathing and relaxation techniques
Despite what Derren Brown may have you believe, ALL hypnosis is self hypnosis (BIG fan of Derren here, #justsaying…). You are always in control, in fact, learning to induce such deep relaxation in yourself is possibly the ultimate act of self control.
How amazing to be able to keep yourself so utterly calm in the unfamiliar and sometimes overwhelming environment of theatre. Even outside of labour, being in a vulnerable position and surrounded by strangers will most likely prompt some level of our fear response- the fight or flight mechanism that can have unpleasant effects. Breathing and relaxation techniques that work to minimise adrenaline, and boost our oxygen and oxytocin levels can combat this, allowing us to remain serene, even when things are difficult, because we can know we are being taken care of, and that no good can come of panicking, for us or for our babies.
Clients often give me examples of how their learnings have become life skills, applicable in endless scenarios. Of course, their partners can also jump on board the calm train, they may well be a little nervous too- in what other scenario would we expect our men folk to accompany us into surgery?!
3.Decision making skills
Many of us forget that we still have body autonomy in birth- (it’s no surprise as we are regularly conditioned to accept “what is allowed”, “the policy” etc.)
Going for a section doesn’t mean you’re out of options. There are often compromises, of course, but still lots of decisions still to be made.
When will it be scheduled for? What conditions are important to you in surgery? Would you like delayed cord clamping? Slow emergence of the baby? The screen lowered as baby is born? Who will announce the sex? Immediate skin to skin with mother and/ or father? Will you consider seeding your baby’s microbiome? Will the baby have vitamin K? And more…
Hypnobirthing encourages you to take responsibility for your choices- to understand that what’s best for “all” may not be best for one. Using the BRAIN framework (Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Instincts, Nothing) you will learn to make choices you feel satisfied with as parents, and be reminded that you have a right to be respected in your informed decision making.
4. Access to information
Did some of the stuff I mentioned above seem surprising? Hypnobirthing with a teacher can open your eyes to a wealth of info you might otherwise never have discovered.
Check out this article from The Active Birth Centre with some good insights from the pioneer of ‘natural c-sections’, Professor Fisk.
There are also Facebook resources, including this Group where you can find peer support and inspiration
5.Birth partner engagement
Although I occasionally work with a mother who embraces hypnobirthing alone, hypnobirthing is designed to empower both women, AND their partners. To inspire confidence, cultivate calmness, and give them permission to welcome the experience of their baby’s arrival together, even through challenging circumstances.
Hypnobirthing mamas often tell me, “I couldn’t have done it without him!”. You don’t hear that on One Born Every Minute. Seriously- a team effort.
Anyone who has experienced a birth alongside a partner who is unprepared and/ or terrified will understand the impact this has, not just on the day, but beyond into parenthood.
So that’s my take on it. But I’ve never had a section- read what some of my experienced mamas have to say about it. (Reasons for sections included pre-existing health condition, slowed fetal growth, and breech position).
“First of all, don’t panic! I was actually surprised by how well and relaxed I felt with my section! See if you can get the c section Hypno cd! I had a birth plan and you can still ask for things in a section so make sure u no what u want 🙂 I found the breathing invaluable!!! I used it all through labour and on the table, it really helped distract me from all the medical stuff going on around me!”
“Hypnobirthing really helped with my c section experience with using my brain technique. It ended up being a really positive experience knowing my little boy was going to be delivered safe and sound! I couldn’t of asked for more from the midwives- they told me everything step by step what I should expect. They made me feel really relaxed (as you can be) during the section. I also had a fear of taking tablets which they helped with!”
“Our elective was incredible-our baby boy was born on Tuesday and it was even more magical than I could have ever wished! The section team (all women-muchto my surprise) were incredible and all really looked at and read our wishes (leaving cord to pulsate, skin to skin ASAP and placenta looked after for encapsulation) and facilitated these with pleasure (and many a question about why we chose to encapsulate! Took my mind off what was going on I can tell you! Hypnobirthing played a HUGE part for me-I was totally calm throughout…and my bikini wax the weekend before gave me more discomfort!”
Thanks for the words super mamas.
The message is clear- Hypnobirthing can offer something to all babies and their parents. Don’t rule it out- you can definitely still have the epidural…