About Hypnobirthing

Birth is often compared to running a marathon, requiring both physical and mental preparation, in order to fully understand and appreciate what your body is capable of and how you can enhance this using your mindset.

Hypnobirthing has many similarities to sports psychology, which is used by top athletes to improve the strength of both mind and body.

Most people seem to easily grasp the value of psychological preparation in sport, but somehow when similar principles are applied to birth preparation, there is a view that it might be somehow ‘hippy’, niche or ‘out there’! Just as sports psychologists work across a wide range of sporting disciplines, so hypnobirthing can be useful to women and their birth partner across a wide range of birth experiences.

To find out more read my blog article here: ‘So what actually is hypnobirthing’.

So, are you hypno-curious?

You might come along mainly for the antenatal preparation and physiological education, feeling somewhat sceptical about whether hypnobirthing is for you. But you may actually find that the mind/body connection content is both fascinating and liberating and enhances your pregnancy and preparation for birth.

You might already be all about the hypnobirthing content but grow to realise that, in order for hypnobirthing to be truly beneficial, you need a solid physiological foundation to hang it all on.

Read my blog article here: ‘So what is hypnobirthing not? Dispelling the myths and why hypnobirthing needs a new name!’

Your birth rights and choices

Most importantly and therefore threaded throughout the entire course, is a firm focus on your birth rights and choices.

We all know that knowledge equals power. And your pregnancy and birth knowledge will certainly ramp up during the course! But learning how to harness that knowledge and use it in a powerful way to make the right choices for you, is of fundamental importance as you prepare for your birth.

During the course, you will learn how to use a simple but effective decision making framework to help you to ask empowered questions which will inform your care options during pregnancy and birth. You will also learn how to research and write meaningful, considered and informed birth preferences together in order to individualise your care according to your own particular circumstances.

Underpinned by a solid evidence-base and coming from the perspective of someone who has worked with women within ‘the system’, YBYB can help you to reduce your risk of becoming a passive passenger on the conveyor belt of routine care practices, and in doing so, help to stack the odds in your favour of becoming a knowledgeable and respected participant in your care.

Your birth preferences

As I mentioned previously, some women decide on a ‘go with the flow’ approach to birth, perhaps believing that being more relaxed will keep their options open? Many parents-to-be avoid writing birth preferences all together, worrying that they could appear too prescriptive or lead to disappointment. Sadly, it’s not uncommon for pregnant women to be advised against writing a birth plan because it’s likely to ‘end up being thrown out of the window’ (Blog article incoming on this one as it makes my blood boil!).

A good birth plan however should definitely NOT be all about plan A. By learning about options that may arise and knowing how best to go about making the right decisions for you (in the context of how your own birth evolves) your birth preferences show their true value. It’s not really about what’s written on the piece of paper. It’s about the work you’ve put in to develop a shared understanding about what matters to you and how you plan to advocate for that and communicate it to your caregivers.

So, whilst ‘going with the flow’ might, on the surface, seem like the right approach, it could be said that by not feeling well prepared for birth you may feel disarmed and be even more susceptible to disappointment. I suppose the key point here is, in choosing to ‘go with the flow’, whose flow are you actually going with?

Your baby’s birth is undoubtedly one of the biggest events in your life and feeling capable of taking an active role in making decisions from a place of knowledge instead of fear, is surely much more likely to lead to an empowered and satisfying experience?

As a birth educator, my job is to provide a comprehensive and realistic course that will help prepare you to make confident, informed decisions. Having the knowledge and ability to ask the right questions can lead to more choice and a more empowered birth no matter what path your birth follows.

Toxic positivity

There should be NO place in any birth preparation course for toxic positivity. Courses that sideline realistic representation of all birth by overlooking certain types of birth (eg intense/vocal birth, assisted vaginal birth, births with necessary medical intervention due to pertinent individual circumstances) risk invalidating the experiences of many women by implying that their birth might somehow be a less powerful or worthy experience. Not talking about certain interventions does not make them less likely to happen, but may lead to feelings of fear and loss of control in the event that they do.

Hypnobirthing comes into its own even more when curve balls are thrown in to the mix. So if you have an unplanned caesarean birth, choose to accept the offer of induction or decide to transfer to the obstetric unit for an epidural, your knowledge and hypnobirthing toolkit can be just as, if not more, valuable.

Birth does not have to be zen, calm or quiet. Birth is powerful and intense – you may feel fierce and strong and roar like a lion, or calm, capable and in awe of what your body is capable of. There is no right or wrong.

Your birth, your baby, your body

So YBYB promotes a non-biased understanding of intervention by giving women the knowledge and power to choose what is right for them at any given time, not what fits neatly into someone else’s preconceived idea of ‘the perfect birth’, whatever that is? It is NOT the remit of any birth educator to reduce your options by making assumptions about any choices you may make.

If you are informed, prepared and knowledgeable about your birthing body, birth options and how to advocate for what you feel is right for you on the day, you’re much more likely to feel respected and emotionally supported.

If you enter your birth feeling like it something is to be endured, you’re much more likely to feel disempowered and vulnerable.

A positive birth can only be defined by you. Whether you have a drug free home water birth or a calm planned caesarean (or indeed anything in between) you can’t fail at birth.

So should I go ‘with the flow’ then?

In my view, ‘going with the flow’ can be a limiting rather than a liberating approach. It may reduce self-awareness and your ability to harness your power through knowledge and advocacy, and often leads down the path of compliance over choice. Could it be more accurately described as a ‘head in the sand’ approach?

You will never regret the work you put in to raise your chances of achieving your best birth, whatever that birth may look like. When compared to other big life events (your wedding for example), do most of us plan ahead in an attempt to make it the best day possible or do we tend to ‘go with the flow’ and hope to somehow muddle through on the day?

There is real pressure on our maternity services at the moment with less people trying to do more work, and this means inevitably that there may be less time and opportunity to discuss your thoughts and feelings about different aspects of your pregnancy and birth in a more holistic way. By investing in a quality complete antenatal course with continued support available in the lead up to your birth and beyond, you can feel more heard and be better equipped. Knowing your options, understanding those options and feeling confident in making choices together that are right for you and your baby can increase your feelings of satisfaction and control in a birth that you have starred in rather than endured.

The finer details surrounding mode of birth are often not the true essence of your birth experience when you look back. How you felt during the experience is what matters most and if you say your birth was a positive experience, then it was. For most women, that positive feeling comes from working together as a birth team and being at the centre of the decision making around your own birth. ‘Going with the flow’ sadly often leads to feelings of surrendering control and less satisfaction in your birth experience.


“You found a way to make this course really family focussed. This was really important to me as it’s an area maternity providers talk about as best practice but in my limited experience, rarely get right.”

“A great course – relevant, informative and professional. Would strongly recommend.”

“I feel more confident in making decisons, what to include in my birth plan and how to put my opinions across to health care professionals”

“Friendly and positive environment – no question left unanswered. Jo is very approachable.”

“Particularly helpful was the discussion about the latent stage and how we as a couple can best help labour to progress. Thank you for making the course so personal by answering all of our questions”

“Time well spent. So glad we did this course together. Loved the convenience of a weekend day course.”