Ask the Expert: What is hypnobirthing and is it suitable for all pregnant women?
Q: I'VE been hearing a lot about hypnobirthing. But what exactly is it and how does it work, and can any pregnant woman use it?
A: Hypnobirthing coach Siobhan Miller, founder of The Positive Birth Company (thepositivebirthcompany.co.uk) and author of Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways To Make Your Birth Better (Piatkus, £13.99), says: "Hypnobirthing is for all women and all births; you don't need to subscribe to any school of thought or be planning any particular type of birth. In fact, there's no pregnant woman on the planet who wouldn't benefit from being better informed about her body and her options, and having a practical toolkit to use in labour and birth.
"Hypnobirthing is an evidence-based approach to birth that seeks to empower women with knowledge, practical tools and support, enabling them to have a positive birth experience, however they choose to bring their baby into the world.
"You learn about birth physiology, how your body works on a muscular and hormonal level, and what you can do to help make your birth easier, quicker and more comfortable. Once you know why it's so important to be relaxed, you learn how to achieve this, so your body can work comfortably as it's designed to, allowing you to navigate your birth feeling calm and, most importantly, in control.
"You also learn about induction, caesarean and other interventions which may be offered, because we know that pregnancy and birth can be unpredictable. Hypnobirthing gives you the knowledge, so you might choose to embrace these options, or decline them.
"It also helps you have confidence to make informed decisions that are right for you and your baby, so you're not left feeling you don't have any options. It teaches you about the stages of labour from start to finish, the benefits of delayed cord clamping and immediate skin-to-skin, and the differences between active management and a physiological third stage.
"It helps you overcome anxiety and enjoy your pregnancy, and helps you have the positive and empowering birth experience you deserve, equipping you with tools and techniques you can use as you navigate the challenges of parenthood. Ultimately, hypnobirthing will leave you feeling more informed, confident and even excited about giving birth.
"It's important to remember that a positive birth isn't one type; all births have the potential to be positive experiences. The mechanics of how birth happened matter little long-term, it's how the woman felt during the experience that matters most, as it's the feelings that last a lifetime.
"Hypnobirthing helps you have that positive experience so that however your baby's born, you're ready to begin your new chapter together in the best possible way, feeling relaxed, confident and happy."