When we looked at the preparations for the big day, we were most concerned with strategies for staying calm and relaxed throughout labour. Having been through an NCT course, we knew that labour could last over several days and so finding any way of minimising the stress and discomfort was key. A friend recommend “Self-hypnosis”, which to me initially sounded quite pretentious and well, silly. But, we gave it a go and it really did help.
What is self-hypnosis for birth?
Well, Wikipedia says:
Self–hypnosis (“autohypnosis”) is a form, process or result of hypnosis which is self-induced, and normally makes use of self-suggestion (“autosuggestion”).
From my experience, self-hypnosis is kind of like meditation. The aim is to result in a calmer, less stressful and less painful labour by bringing on a hypnotic state of mind. The NCT has a round up of research into the area, and this went a long way to reducing my initial cynicism.
There are courses you can attend, but we found a great CD, which we loaded onto our Kindle and phones so that we could easily listen to it out loud or with headphones in the hospital.
Effective Birth Preparation (Hospital or Birth Centre): Self Hypnosis
The CD consists of a pleasant and calming female voice, guiding you through the meditation. It provides gentle words which help focus your mind on what is happening, whilst also allowing you to relax. Throughout the labour, we listened to the CD several times over (it lasts about an hour) and my wife found it very calming and a huge help in channelling her thoughts and feelings to focus on the task at hand.
As the Dad, anything which helped relax and de-stress the situation was good! As a first timer, it’s hard to appreciate the amount of time that is spent in labour. Looking back on it after 18 months, it both seems short, quick and intense, but also slow with long periods of waiting. The CD certainly helped fill the waiting periods with something other than me slowly chanting “Relax…” over and over again!
Our top tips:
- Listen to the CD before the birth – it helps to have been through it a few times, and a good way of relaxing in the later stages of pregnancy
- Put the CD in your hospital bag, but have MP3’s on phones, iPods, Kindle or some other device so either of you can listen privately, or in case the hospital doesn’t have a CD player
- Don’t give up – if you’re not convinced on the first listen, give it a break, but do come back and try again, your brain will get better at zoning out with practice, it takes time!
Samples of the CD
You can find a number of samples of the tracks here: http://www.natalhypnotherapy.co.uk/shop/Sound-samples-of-CDs-and-Mp3s.html
Summary of self-hypnosis for birth – did it work?
Overall, we would definitely recommend the CD, and self-hypnosis in general. Labour is a time when stress and anxiety can easily take hold and have a negative impact on the experience. Taking simple steps to reduce this can only be a good thing, and the CD helped us a lot. As Dads, we can’t take on the pushing, but we can help with the emotional and mental preparations. This CD would make a great gift ahead of the birth, and allow you both time to prepare together for the big day.