By Sophie Fletcher
You may have come across hypnobirthing before, but what is the real difference between hypnobirthing and Mindful Hypnobirthing? Quite a lot really!
As a hypnotherapist, my first introduction to hypnobirthing was pure hypnosis with some relaxation, breathing and knowledge about your body, which is brilliant for re-framing. A reframe is when you take a situation and change someone’s perspective on it, so they look at it in a different and more positive way.
Early on there were wonderful birth stories, of people whose experience of birth was so much better than their expectation. Those with acute anxiety or tokophobia going on to have euphoric experiences.
Yet, I had a nagging voice in my head that whilst hypnosis was great, it wasn’t enough on its own.
I saw women who had doubts whether the hypnosis would work, or how to use it in labour. It seemed that many didn’t stop to think that they could labour WITHOUT the hypnosis! The hypnosis often became a crutch for dealing with fear or apprehension. This meant that rather than going into birth with a deep-seated belief that they had all the resources they needed within them, they were worried that the hypnosis wouldn’t work. This reliance on something external took away from the experience that they could do it without the tools, but also busied the mind when it should be quietening down ready for birth.
The truth is:
That we are all perfectly designed to give birth – without hypnosis, and this is where the blend of hypnosis and mindfulness really comes in.
If you had no fear leading into your birth, and the environment and support were loving, quiet, safe and private, you would be able to birth. We’ve just been conditioned to believe that we can’t and forgotten that we can.
In a true birthing state you would be:
- unaware of time passing
- awash with oxytocin
- surrounded with love
- a conduit for energy, power
- in a state of presence
This is where your deep power lies, and where transformation can happen.
Mindful Hypnobirthing takes this natural ability of our body into account with a therapist’s understanding of hypnosis and its application for birth. It creates a fluidity between the use of practical hypnosis tools and the experience of mindfully being in a natural birthing state.
How is this taught?
In mindful hypnobirthing you are taught some mindfulness tools for birth, as is the birth partner (it’s brilliant for the birth partner!) with the underlying philosophy that when you have prepared using hypnosis you will feel:
- Well supported
- In control
When you feel this way, you automatically go into a state of mindful presence. In my book this is what I call the birthing zone.
In the course I cover evidence-based approaches to increase your confidence and to let go of any limiting beliefs around your ability to birth. You will learn about unconscious association in your environment, the impact of fear and anxiety on choices and experience, your soothing system, theories around pain, as well as lots of hypnosis tools to use when you need them.
It’s not just a birth changing course, it’s a life changing course.
What is the difference between mindfulness and hypnosis for birth?
In a nutshell!
Hypnosis is all about change. It’s about creating a different experience, changing a feeling, adjusting a habit or a behaviour. When it comes to birth, hypnosis preparation takes you from anxious to calm, fearful to confident, and from thinking you have no control to knowing you are in control. You’ll learn to use tools and techniques that help shift old beliefs and create new deep-seated beliefs that you can birth your baby, and it can be a positive, even euphoric, experience.
I teach some set techniques, but invite you to understand the theory, why the tools work. This way you can create your own tweaks and adjustments to the material so that they work far more effectively and are adaptable if things take a different path. This way you can make the change you want in a way that feels right for you.
In Mindful Hypnobirthing you use a lot of short, simple and easy to learn conditioning tools, so that your soothing system is activated unconsciously without thoughts getting in the way.
Mindfulness is about acceptance. Rather than having the intention of change, mindfulness is about noticing and being curious about why you feel a certain way, whether that’s physical or emotional. Using your breath as an anchor you can learn to meet that feeling instead of turning away from it. This can take courage and strength, but it’s also very powerful. It can create change but in a very different way. In my experience as a doula, when I see women in this place it’s astonishing. They are embodied in the experience, not thinking about anything else apart from the moment they are in. Not even thinking about the hypnosis.
Mindfulness is all about connecting with your body fearlessly.
The overall message is
“You have everything you need within you, but if you need a boost then the hypnosis is there to help you get back into your zone”.
What if I find it hard to get into this space?
Modern birth environments make it really difficult to create this space. When you take a course, you will learn how to work with your unconscious thoughts and associations to create a sense of being in a space where you feel private, safe and unobserved.
You’ll learn some beautiful conditioning tools to make that as easy as possible, so things happen without you even thinking about it! Preparation using conditioning works well with hypnosis, as it means little and often works brilliantly and easy to fit in, even if you have a busy lifestyle.
If, for any reason, there are distractions or interruptions that take you out of your birthing zone, you’ll learn how to notice them for what they are and adjust your environment using practical tools as well as hypnosis audio tracks. These powerful tools help to get you back into that focused state of mindfulness.
What are you waiting for?
You can get started today by reading my book Mindful Hypnobirthing. Joining my Facebook Group – where you can ask questions. I’ll be there in the group all you have to do it tag me. Click here to join (please answer the questions as I like to keep it as safe a space as possible).
Sophie Fletcher is a clinical hypnotherapist and Fellow of the National Council for Hypnotherapy. She has been teaching and training families, birthworkers and midwives in the NHS for over 15 years. She is the bestselling author of Mindful Hypnobirthing, Mindful Mamma and Mindful Menopause.
You can find Sophie on Instagram @mindfulhypnobirthingbook