The programme is designed for everyone, whether you are planning a homebirth or an elective C-section.
The MAMA IN MIND Hypnobirth programme includes private sessions with you and your birth partner, which means it can be tailored to you and your specific experience. Yes, many women choose the programme because they want a natural birth with no drugs or medical intervention. However, most women - and their birth partners - choose it because they just want to be as prepared as possible. The majority of women who complete the programme go on to have natural births with no pain relief, but the medical team are there to help if necessary and that's ok. In fact, those women who have needed medical intervention have found what they learnt in the programme invaluable, allowing them to remain calm, relaxed and in control even when things don't go the way they planned.
What is hypnosis?
It is essentially just a very deep state of relaxation. You know that point when you're lying in bed, about to fall asleep, and you know you could get up if you had to but you feel almost weightless and as if you can't move any part of your body because it's just too much effort? It can feel a little like that.
Have you ever been so engrossed in something that you don't hear someone speak to you or notice the time passing? Perhaps you were watching TV or listening to music - even daydreaming. Most of us experience this 'trance-like' state on a daily basis and it is essentially a form of self-hypnosis. A hypnotherapist simply acts as a guide, communicating directly with your unconscious mind, allowing you to change preconceptions, feelings and behaviours.
Is hypnosis safe?
Yes, it is completely safe. You are awake during hypnosis and therefore aware of things around you. You can snap out of the deeply relaxed state you are in at any time if you want to. You cannot get 'stuck' in a hypnotic state, although you may enjoy the wonderful, relaxed feelings so much that you may not want to leave!
Can anyone be hypnotised?
Yes, but only if you want to be. The only exceptions are those who are under the influence of mind-altering drugs or alcohol and people with severe learning difficulties. It is like any other therapy, a two-way process where therapist and client work together. Open-minded people with clear objectives respond well.
Will I lose control?
It's a common misconception that when you are in hypnosis you are out of control, or even under the control of the hypnotist. Despite what the TV shows lead you to believe, you cannot be made to do anything, let alone anything you don't want to do. In fact, you are very much in control - your hypnotherapist is simply there to make suggestions which you can choose to accept. Rest assured, no-one can make you bark like a dog - unless you decide you want to!
Will I be hypnotised during labour?
Only if you find it helpful. Some women like to listen to CDs or have their birth partner help them get into a hypnotic state, others withdraw into their own space. You may not know how you will feel until you get there.
The MAMA IN MIND Hypnobirth programme gives you a selection of tools to draw on to help you relax during labour. From self-hypnosis and visualisations to positioning and breath-control, you may use just one or all of the techniques you learn. The important thing is that they will come naturally to you at the time, and you will know which works for you when you get there. You will be able to remain calm and in control during labour, whatever happens.
What about my birth partner?
The MAMA IN MIND Hypnobirth programme is designed for both you and your birth partner. There are parts that are mainly geared towards you, as it will ultimately be you birthing the baby. However, your birth partner has a vital role to help you achieve this comfortably and calmly, so it is important they share your knowledge, thoughts and desires. If your birthing partner is the father of your baby, involving him as much as possible allows him to be an active part of the birth and feel useful.
Your birth partner is therefore encouraged to attend at least one of the hypnobirthing classes with you. If this isn't possible for any reason, it is important that they understand what you have learnt and that they share the process with you, so the programme includes materials for you to take home and share with them.
Is it just hypnosis?
No. The MAMA IN MIND Hypnobirth programme is designed to fully prepare you for the birth, both consciously and unconsciously. Each session contains hypnosis to allow you to relax, challenge preconceptions and give you powerful tools to take with you into labour, but equally important are knowledge and understanding about what you're going to experience.
The programme includes medical, procedural and biological information to help you. It draws on content prepared by midwives, surgical and maternity staff and includes lots of information that pregnant women - and their birth partners - should be told but are often not. It's also the place where can ask all those embarrassing questions like 'what if I poo during the birth?!
Why is relaxation so important?
To manage fear. You may have heard of the 'Fight-or-Flight' response which is our body's natural instinct when faced with danger. When we feel fear, our bodies tense up and adrenalin kicks in, allowing us to be very alert and concentrate so we can survive. Our body will often stop all other functions to allow maximum focus on whether to fight or run. This includes labour - if an animal senses a predator, her labour will stop until it is safe again.
The MAMA IN MIND Hypnobirth programme helps you learn how to address fear, both before and during labour, allowing you to get back in control of your body so that it doesn't trigger this automatic response. Research has shown that less than 1% of hypnobirthing mothers experience post-natal depression and breasfeeding is often easier. Babies born through a calm, controlled labour tend to be more relaxed, feeding and sleeping better.
Is it all about a natural birth?
No. The MAMA IN MIND Hypnobirth programme is about empowering you to have the birth experience that YOU want and not what others think you should have. What this is varies from person to person, it's not always about home-births or water and music. If you want pain relief, you can have it any time.
What the programme gives you is the confidence to make decisions and be happy with whatever you decide, even if that's completely the opposite to your birth plan. You may find you won't feel the need for pain relief as you will have the tools to manage, but you can know that whatever you decide is the right decision for you and your baby.
When should I do the programme?
Between 30 to 35 weeks is the ideal time to start the programme, but if you are already further on in your pregnancy we can schedule the sessions closer together.
What if I've had a previous C-Section?
The MAMA IN MIND Hypnobirth programme is geared towards supporting a natural birth, but there are many instances where medical intervention is necessary so it prepares you for that too. Most hospitals and medical professionals encourage women to opt for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean), but that is your decision and only yours. If you decide on an elective caesarean there are still lots of things in the programme that will help you - just mention it when you book so that it can be tailored appropriately.
How long does it take?
The MAMA IN MIND Hypnobirth programme includes three two-hour hypnobirthing classes. The first one is a group session, the second and third sessions are one-to-one (your birth partner is welcome too). Sessions are usually held at my home in Sidcup and I recommend two weeks between each.