The experience of childbirth inherently has the potential to be joyful, ecstatic profoundly connective, and it has the power as a rite of female passage to transform and enhance women’s lives indelibly.
When childbirth is mentioned in most circles, the common initial reaction is the notion that it is an intensely painful and stressful event and that a woman should do everything in her power to simply “get through it “. This is largely due to the influence of Western media where pregnant and birthing woman are most often portrayed as “ out of control” helpless and in need of a doctor and drugs to save her from an abominable experience!!!
The primal and powerful initiation that is natural childbirth has been disrespected and largely undermined in our society today by these attitudes and portrayals. Ancestral birth wisdom is encoded in every woman at a deep cellular level, but in the modern world of obstetrics and maternity care, this wisdom has become fragmented, displaced and is indeed in danger of being lost .The nature of modern birth practices, especially in Australia’s current model of maternity care reflects birth as a highly medicalised event that is unfortunately being met with increasing levels, and types, of medical interventions.
The deviation of birth from that of a normal physiological process is failing to empower women to birth confidently and with a high degree of autonomy and is denying the next generation of young women and families the access to the transformative power of natural birth.
The misconceptions of birth have conditioned recent generations of women to largely fear the process of birth and to extent surrender their power in birth, most often to their caregivers. If you have the belief that birth is painful, difficult and that you need help to “ get through” it then, without a different education and mindset, this is likely to be the experience you will manifest. It is important to explain here that fear is widely accepted as the enemy of the birthing environment.
The presence of fear, elicits a powerful physiological effect on the birthing mother. The sympathetic nervous system responds via activation of the flight/fight mechanism and releases catecholamine’s (adrenaline and noradrenaline) into her system. These “stressor hormones “ whilst beneficial in the later stages of labour, during early labour can interfere with the natural flow of birth whereby they act as an antagonist to the predominant hormone of labour “oxytocin.” It is through the pulse like release of oxytocin in normal physiological birth, that the muscular contraction of the uterus is initiated and sustained in labour.
Read more about the hormonal physiology of labour here…
Your Hormones are your Helpers – by Sarah Buckley
(Fantastic article by our own Australian medical expert in the hormones of birth)
At the most basic level, for a mother to have the best opportunity to birth comfortably and without intervention, she needs to feel private, unobserved and most importantly safe. If she is experiencing high levels of fear, these needs are most likely not being met. Just as a mother cat would not birth her kittens in the presence of a predator, the fearful birthing mother flooded with catecholamine’s, can now experience tension and pain and a consequent slowing down of her labour process. When this occurs in a medical setting, this can invariably mean immense pressure to accept birthing interventions, and to adhere to an often unreasonable hospital timeline of birth. The natural birth she had hoped for is now very likely to be impacted …
If only she had been more prepared!!!
Hypnobirthing AustraliaTM is the worlds fastest growing childbirth education program that prepares mothers and their birthing companions to birth without fear and tension. When a mother and her birth companion are able to approach their birth without fear and with knowledge, good support, and tools for the birth – then their birthing can be a positive and life affirming experience.
The combination of self-hypnosis, relaxation, affirmation, visualisation, active birth and breathing techniques as fundamental to the holistic experience of Hypnobirthing AustraliaTM is able to transmute conditioned fears and prepares the mother with confidence to birth in a calm and sovereign way. This is regardless of whether she has chosen to birth in a hospital, at home, in a birthing centre or even if she is having an elective or emergency caesarean. Expectant mums learn to trust in the normal physiological process of birth, in themselves, their bodies and their babies. Birth companions learn how important it is to create and nurture sacred space for their partners so that they can birth feeling safe and supported. They are empowered to play an integral role in helping their partner to relax at the time of her labour, offering physical touch, positive reinforcement, asking questions of medical caregivers and advocating for their partner. Hypnobirthing parents are also educated to be able to adapt and use critical thinking techniques to make informed choices no matter whatever turn their birthing journey takes.
The ‘hypno’ part of ‘Hypnobirthing’ refers to the hypnotherapy component of the program. Throughout the course of the classes, fear releasing hypnosis and positive conditioning exercises are taught which can greatly facilitate a mother’s ability to enhance the release of beta-endorphins at the time of her birth. Beta-endorphins are natural pain relieving hormones, and are said to be up to 40 times more powerful than morphine!!!
Through consistent hypnotherapy practice and conditioning, the mother learns to surrender to her contractions (known as surges in Hypnobirthing) and becomes both emotionally and physically present to her labour experience, she is then truly able to direct the course of her own birth. Relaxed emotional presence in the body means that both the primal or reptilian and limbic parts of the brain are working in harmony, this allows a woman to feel calm and safe even in the midst of the strong sensations of labour. This level of empowerment is then likely to reduce the need for interventions during birthing.
There are simply so many benefits to families using Hypnobirthing techniques to optimize their birth experience and evidence shows that:
- The first stage of labour can be shortened by several hours;
- Labour fatigue is greatly reduced for the mother;
- Postnatal recovery time is faster and maternal satisfaction rates are higher
- There are significantly lower induction and caesarean rates;
- There is substantially less pain relief administered;
- It creates a more integral role for the birthing partner;
- There is a higher success rate for breastfeeding
- it greatly reduces the need for medical interventions;
- including augmentation, assisted delivery via forceps or ventouse, episiotomy and caesarean delivery.
Key to assisting the shift in the current model and experience of birth is the access parents who complete the Hypnobirthing Australia TM program have to current and evidenced based birthing information which assists them to confidently vision the birth experience they desire and to communicate this vision effectively with their caregivers.
Parents who haven’t had the experience of a Hypnobirthing education often report feeling overrun and powerless at the time of previous births and reflect that they wish they were more informed. Knowledge is power and especially navigating the current system of birth in Australia, it is paramount parents are informed as to their rights and choices in childbirth.
I believe it is every woman’s birthright to be able birth in the environment and in the manner she chooses and that babies deserve to be born in a space of love this is why I am so passionate about imploring parents to seek out independent childbirth education, namely Hypnobirthing !!!
Elena Tonetti Vladimirova, leading Conscious birth expert and water birth advocate from www.birthintobeing.com has a poignant message that sums it up well…
“When the consciousness of birth shifts from anxiety and fear to love and safety, then we will truly have a chance to reach our greatest potential. We can regain our authentic power, clear the pain of our ancestors from our system, and set the stage for our children to step into their lives as peaceful, empowered guardians of Earth.”
Katie Kempster is a Hypnobirthing Practitioner and Childbirth Educator, Birth Doula and Energetic Healer from Harmonic Hypnobirthing on the Northern Beaches and Central Coast of NSW.