Photo by eva rose birth
A common misconception is that hypnobirthing is only suitable if you want to birth at home or with minimal intervention - but this is so wrong! If giving birth on the Labour Ward feels like a safe and positive choice for you, then there is PLENTY you can do to make it a positive and empowering birth.
Hypnobirthing can be utilised no matter where you are giving birth and the key for a positive birth is that it’s an informed decision, made by you. A choice you are happy and comfortable with. Maybe being on the labour ward feels like a safe place for you. Or maybe after careful consideration, it’s the place you have planned to give birth in due to pregnancy complications.
Research has shown that for uncomplicated pregnancies, simply being on a labour ward will increase the chance of interventions such as instrumental or caesarean birth (Birth Place Study, 2011) but there are many factors to consider when choosing where to give birth.
What can you do to keep your birth on the right track?
The most IMPORTANT thing to remember is that for your body to labour the hormone oxytocin has to be flowing. In order for our hormones to remain in balance and flowing, we need to feel SAFE, RELAXED and UNOBSERVED. The best thing to help this is to create a home from home environment. Create your safe place, your nest, whatever makes it yours and less like a hospital. Pillows, blankets, music, pictures, battery operated candles and even essential oils. The room is yours for the duration of labour, so make it feel like it.
STAY OFF THE BED (unless you need to rest). The bed can be moved out of the way, it can also be transformed into all sorts of weird and wonderful positions. Such as a chair or you could even lean over the back of it, to help remain upright and to keep gravity on your side. A birthing ball is a wonderful alternative and often much more comfortable.
Turn down the lights. When we are in a darkened room our body produces melatonin. Melatonin receptors are present in the uterine muscles and are the perfect accompanying hormone for oxytocin. It aids oxytocin in labour, by increasing the strength of contractions. It’s no coincidence that the majority of labours and births take place at night!
Remain mobile and trust your instincts. Adopt positions that feel right for you. Even if you have an epidural it is possible to adopt positions that keep gravity on your side and aid the natural physiology of birth. By laying on your back in labour, it will make the descent for your baby a lot more difficult and more uncomfortable for you.
Most birthing units will have wireless monitoring (telemetry) available. This kind of CTG (continuous) monitoring has no wires and therefore can be used in the water and it also allows you to move freely around the room. Should your baby's heart rate require continuous monitoring, this is a good one to remember.
Avoid coached/ directed pushing where possible. This is when you are told how and when to push (the type you see on tv). Some studies have shown that with this type of pushing women are more likely to suffer tearing, pelvic floor, and bladder damage. It has also been associated with lower Apgar scores for baby. As long as both mother and baby are ok and not showing any signs of being distressed there is no need to ‘speed’ up the second stage of labour. Listen to what your body is telling you to do, trust your instincts.
Hypnobirthing is still very beneficial and all of the tools you have learnt can be fully utilised. Pop on your playlist, read your positive birth affirmation cards, play your relaxation scripts and use those breathing techniques. Everything is still the same, it’s just a different birthing environment.
Lastly but most importantly, be involved in the decision making. Taking control of the choices in your labour can transform how you feel. Nothing should be done to you, it should be done with you. Working together as a team and making fully informed decisions can make a huge difference.
Hypnobirthing is inclusive of all types of births. A woman who gives birth at home with no assistance or a woman who gives birth in theatre by caesarean feels exactly the same emotion and power. Birth is birth, a life-changing event, welcoming a new life into the world.