Frequently asked questions

What is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing is a complete antenatal birth preparation program designed to help you to approach your birth feeling confident, knowledgeable, prepared in body and mind, and empowered to make the right choices for you during pregnancy and as your birth unfolds.

A complete course will provide you with a full antenatal education alongside hypnobirthing tools and techniques to allow you to navigate birth, no matter what path it takes.

You will gain a deeper understanding of the physiology of birth – what happens within your body on both a muscular and hormonal level, but you will also learn how you can support birth using the powerful combination of mindset work, tools and techniques learnt on the course and practiced during the rest of your pregnancy.

Is hypnobirthing a type of pain relief?

Hypnobirthing is not a form of pain relief. It does however give you the skills to be able to quickly and effectively relax, helping you to work with, rather than against, your body. Birth is often compared to running a marathon, where physical and mental preparation, focus and determination and understanding and supporting what your body is achieving and how you can enhance this using your mindset is essential. Hypnobirthing has many similarities to sports psychology which is often used by top athletes to improve the strength of both mind and body.

Runners understand that muscles may tire and that progress may involve purposeful pain as the finish line gets closer. Understanding these sensations as a natural consequence of hard working, powerful muscles in action, rather than as a result of suffering, gives runners the impetus to face the challenges ahead without fighting against them because they know this is what they’ve prepared for and have a strong will to achieve. Confidence in, and appreciation of your body’s ability to birth, can similarly reduce fear, helping you to both understand and work with the sensations of birth, thus helping you over the finish line to meet your baby.

Many do find, however, that hypnobirthing can make birth more comfortable and reduce or delay the need for more complex choices of pain relief during labour. When you’re working with the natural physiology of your body rather than tensing against it, the resulting flow of endorphin producing oxytocin produced in the parasympathetic mode has significant beneficial effect. Birth is powerful and intense – you may feel fierce and strong and roar like a lion, or calm and capable and in awe of what your body is achieving. There is no right or wrong. Hypnobirthing is a comprehensive preparation program for all birth regardless of what pain relief you choose on the day.

Isn’t hypnobirthing just about breathing?

Hypnobirthing is not just a bundle of breathing techniques. Simply listening to a guided relaxation during labour and using breathing techniques may well help, but it is most definitely not the whole story. Hypnobirthing has many different facets, which when joined together become greater than the sum of its parts. It is a ‘practice’ and develops in effectiveness through regular repetition and reinforcement as you prepare for your birth and welcoming your baby.

Can hypnobirthing guarantee a straightforward birth?

Hypnobirthing cannot guarantee you a particular type of birth. But it enables you to be an expert in your body and actively involved in your care thus increasing your feelings of satisfaction and control in a birth you have starred in rather than endured. Knowing your options, understanding those options and feeling confident to make choices that are right for you and your baby together with your supportive and informed partner are key in hypnobirthing.

What is covered on the YBYB course in a nutshell?
The course is comprehensive and will prepare you for however and wherever you birth your baby by helping you to learn about birth physiology and the hormones that support birth, optimal fetal positioning, which birth positions optimise space in your pelvis and help your baby to be born, how to use a simple but effective decision making framework, how to ask empowered questions, how to research and write meaningful, considered and informed birth preferences together to individualise your care thus helping to avoiding generic care and the (often) resulting ‘cascade of interventions’, where you may wish to give birth, how to recognise signs your body may be ready for labour, when to call the midwife, how to set your birth environment, how to encourage birth enhancing hormones to flow and how to discourage ‘fight or flight’ hormones taking over, the different stages of labour, how to use up and down breathing techniques, how to use other simple and effective hypnobirthing techniques (massage, visualisation and more) to prepare for birth, what to do if labour stalls, how to reduce the risk of tearing, how to navigate through your birth if circumstances change, what if my baby is breech?, what is a ‘back-to-back’ baby?, how to be an effective advocate, how to be a valued and involved birth partner, how to avoid due date pressure, how to make the right choice for you regarding an offer of induction, all about natural and pharmacological comfort measures, what to expect if you need an assisted vaginal or caesarean birth, how to have an informed role in assisted/abdominal birth, what happens immediately after birth, the value of skin-to-skin, 3rd stage options and optimal cord care, considerations around vitamin K, infant feeding – how to get off to a good start and how to promote a gentle transition to life outside the womb for your newborn in the fourth trimester, the principles and practicalities of safe sleep. Phew! You see what I mean by comprehensive.
And yes I’m aware that this a very large nutshell
What is hypnotherapy?

Put simply, hypnotherapy is the use of words to reinvigorate your birth mindset by making the most of the mind/body connection. Over time you learn to release ingrained fears that are stored in your subconscious due to a lifetime of negative societal conditioning. Along with use of the more well known aspects of hypnobirthing to support the process (self/partner led relaxation, visualisation, positive affirmations, anchoring, breathing exercises, light touch massage, setting the environment), you can be helped to approach birth with more confidence.

Isn’t hypnobirthing just for non-medicated water birth?

Hypnobirthing is definitely not for those wishing only for a non medicated home water birth. You can’t fail at hypnobirthing because the word describes a comprehensive birth preparation program and does not refer to any specific type of birth. Every birth is an achievement. I believe hypnobirthing takes on an even greater level of significance if your birth circumstances change either during pregnancy or labour. You will never regret giving yourself the best chance to achieve your best birth, whatever that may look like, by preparing both your body and mindset and engaging with regular practice. So hypnobirthing is just as relevant for induction, caesarean birth, birth with an epidural, assisted vaginal birth, straightforward vaginal birth, birth on a consultant led unit, on a midwife led unit, at home, in water, on dry land.

Will I actually be ‘hypnotised’?

‘Hypno’ is the Greek word for sleep and in this case when joined to the word ‘birthing’ it refers to the ability to enter into a deeply relaxed state of mind in pregnancy and birth. This isn’t mind control or stage hypnosis. No pocket watches will be involved! It is not something that is done ‘to you’ but something that is done ‘by you’ or together with your birth partner. It is simply a way to quieten your busy, conscious mind (the part responsible for analytical thinking) especially during surges, or times of stress/change thus enabling you to tap into your subconscious mind.

Does my birth partner need to attend classes?

I feel it is so important that whoever is going to be supporting you during labour and birth comes along to the course where possible. Preparation and education isn’t just for the birthing person and an informed birth partner is going to be better placed to provide the support and advocacy needed on the lead up birth and during labour and birth itself. Birth partners are so much more than just a hand to hold!

So much knowledge is gained from completing the course together and studies consistently show that having a supportive and involved birth partner improves outcomes for the whole family.

Isn’t hypnobirthing a bit ‘woo’?

Hypnobirthing is not hippy dippy, airy fairy, wishy washy or ‘woo’!

Hypnotherapy (the use of language to help you to reset/reframe your subconscious mind to release fears thus optimising your ability to achieve your goal) is logical, firmly rooted in science and has been successfully used over many years (in weight control, smoking cessation etc), being recommended by the NHS due to a strong and supportive record of successful outcomes. You don’t have to subscribe to a particular type of belief system to choose to prepare for an informed and empowered birth. You don’t even have to believe in hypnotherapy for it to work!

It acts on the subconscious, using words and suggestions to change your mindset when you’re in a deeply relaxed state. Don’t worry if you’re feeling sceptical about this!

Many don’t feel that hypnotherapy is working if their mind is elsewhere or they fall asleep during a relaxation. In fact, hypnotherapy does work best if you are in an altered state of consciousnes but this is not a ‘trance’ and is not stage induced hypnosis. (We all enter deep relaxation twice a day when we fall asleep or wake from sleep). Put simply, the conscious part of your mind is bypassed and the unconscious part of your mind (where behavioural responses and perceptions rule) is able to receive beneficial suggestions which with repetition and regular reinforcement can become instinctive.

At times we’ve all driven a regular route that we can almost navigate without thinking. You’re not consciously thinking of the directions but can still progress on your journey safe in the knowledge that, if required, you’re still (very fortunately) free and able to apply the brakes in the event of a cat running across the road! You’re relaxed but not absent.

When can I do the course and can I still do the course if I am later on in my pregnancy?

Ideally, aim to attend any time from around 20 weeks as the relaxation and breathing techniques need to be instinctive to provide the most benefit, and that comes best with practice. You will also get longer to enjoy the benefits of your new knowledge-base and skills during your pregnancy.

If you have come across this complete antenatal and hypnobirthing course later on into your pregnancy, you can of course still benefit from the valuable insight, knowledge and skills that all come together to help you to make informed decisions that feel right for you, your birth partner and your baby.

Can I use drugs with hypnobirthing?

Yes! Hypnobirthing is suitable for ALL types of birth, from drug free vaginal birth to planned caesarean birth. However you choose to birth and whatever happens on the day.

A big part of the course is learning about your options during pregnancy, labour and birth so that you can make the choices that are right for you.

I’m having a caesarean is there any point me coming to YBYB?

Definitely. If you know you want or need to have a caesarean birth then there is plenty of information for you on the YBYB course. The techniques can really come in to their own if choosing to birth in a more medical setting or in the event of an unplanned situation that may induce anxiety. Remember to use your BRAIN tool, write your caesarean birth preferences and include any aspects of care that really matter to you and your newborn baby such as skin-to-skin and optimal cord care.

Regardless of how you birth, the flow of oxytocin and endorphins remains relevant before, during and immediately after your birth, so using the techniques to help you feel more relaxed and confident will have a positive effect on you and your baby however your birth evolves.