You might’ve heard of it in the latest issue of Cosmo and dismissed it, or maybe it’s just never entered your vocabulary.
Either way, it’s time to consider hypnobirthing.
What is hypnobirthing? Hypnobirthing is a method of natural childbirth that focuses on child rearing with the help of meditation, breathing techniques, relaxation, and visualization. In a nutshell, you will hear no screaming and cuss words during a hypnobirthing—er—session. Why? Because if hypnobirthing was a fitness class, it would be restorative yoga, not boot camp.
The technique of hypnobirthing stems from the idea that giving birth is a natural process, something that the female body is made to do. When we addle the body and mind with drugs during childbirth, it becomes difficult for a woman to feel the natural cues of her body. Some women who get epidurals report having difficulty pushing because they quite literally are numb.
But hypnobirthing strives to dispel these drug-related complications by keeping the focus on relaxation and self-hypnosis. It’s tranquil meditation with a side of childbirth. The technique also attempts to quell the notion that giving birth automatically equals pain.
According to the founder of KG Hypnobirthing, Katharine Graves, women experience pain during childbirth because they are told they’re going to experience pain during childbirth. Expecting the pain therefore induces anxiety, which produces adrenaline. When there is fear, the body tenses up and doesn’t follow its own natural rhythm. But the key to having a peaceful birth, or even an orgasmic one (yes, that’s a real thing, too!), is a different hormone: oxytocin, which is known as the “cuddle” or “love hormone” because it is stimulated when snuggling.
“We produce oxytocin as we fall in love and make love and the biggest production of it is while giving birth,” Graves has said. “But the main thing that gets in the way [of it] is fear. Society believes birth is painful and traumatic and you can’t produce adrenaline and oxytocin at the same time.”
So basically, we’re setting ourselves up for a stressful, painful birth, simply because society tells us that’s the kind we should have.
Think about it: When was the last time you heard a positive story about childbirth? Sure, they’re all positive in the end when the parents hold their baby for the first time and realize that all the stress of labor was worth it. But the stress of labor is the thing that is stressed the most in these anecdotes. Horror stories about all the less-than-cute things that happen during both pregnancy and labor are much more common than stories of peaceful, Beyoncé-like births. You hear about the drugs, contractions, stitches, vaginal tearing, and pooping. No wonder most women go into labor with a less-than-calm attitude.
So how do you know if it’s the method for you?
Definitely do your research. Read books, articles, check out websites, watch YouTube videos, and get as acquainted with the method as possible.
Another good place to start is asking yourself this question: Do you have major fears about giving birth? If so, you might want to look more into hypnobirthing, as one of the greatest things it promises is the capability of pushing away fear and letting natural female instincts take over during birth.