A birds-eye view of an unknown mum-to-be preparing for birthing. She is reading birth affirmation cards to help prepare herself for labour and delivery.

preparing for birth | hypnobirthing with vanessa from illoura birth

5 min read

Preparing your body for birth can be one of the best things to ensure your labour is more in line with your wishes. But with so much information out there on the different techniques for birth, we know it can be hard to know where to start (or what method might be best for you).

From birth plans to calm birth, and now hypnobirth, our preparing for birth series is helping break down some of the different information and techniques around birth prep, so you can enter your due date feeling more empowered and in control.

But what does hypnobirth mean? With the help of doula and hypnobirthing practitioner, Vanessa Barnard from Illoura Birth, we’re taking an in-depth look at how a hypnobirth can help support with labour, postpartum, and beyond.

A birds-eye view of an unknown mum-to-be preparing for birthing. She is reading birth affirmation cards to help prepare herself for labour and delivery. 

What is a hypnobirth delivery?

Like deep breathing, massage, or walking, hypnobirthing isn’t a type of delivery, but a technique used to help with labour.

“Hypnobirth is a method of working through your labour and birthing using a combination of relaxation and hands-on tools,” Vanessa says. “Along with building knowledge to reduce fear, which will allow a woman to remain calm, and feel in control and empowered on her birthing journey.” 

Hypnobirth vs calm birth

With both hypnobirth and calm birth focused on relaxation techniques to help mamas like yourself work through the challenges of labour, we’re often asked what the difference between them is.

Essentially, while hypnobirth focuses on self-hypnosis as a tool for mothers to work with their body and baby, calm birth focuses more on mindfulness. Vanessa explains:

“While both are very similar in nature and have the goal to educate and inspire couples for a positive birth, hypnobirthing focuses more on using hypnosis to eliminate fears and work with the pain of labour.”

“All hypnosis is self-hypnosis, so you’re already using in-built abilities that we actually use daily without even realising.”

“Hypnobirthing teaches you how to be more aware and how to use hypnosis during labour. It’s very much about using your own in-built natural abilities within your mind and applying them to birth.”

A pregnant woman wearing maternity briefs is reclined on a couch. She is relaxing before birth and could be preparing for a hypnobirth.

Benefits of hypnobirthing during labour

“There are so many benefits!” Vanessa says. “With engaging in independent childbirth education (outside of hospital) you are less likely to require intervention, and feel more confident and positive towards your labour and birth.”

Focusing on these relaxation techniques and reducing the fear around labour is designed to help reduce stress in the birthing room and help you achieve a more empowering birth.

Potential benefits of hypnobirth include:

  • Less stress and fear around the birthing process, supporting your mental health both during labour and throughout postpartum;
  • Less anxiety during birth, which can lead to a shorter labour;
  • A reduced need for pain medications during labour, such as nitrous oxide, morphine, or an epidural;
  • A reduction in interventions such as inductions and caesarean births;
  • A calmer baby who has been exposed to less stress throughout birth;
  • Increased bonding with both your birth partner and your baby;
  • Breathing and relaxation techniques you can take beyond the birthing room;
  • And a more positive birthing experience overall.

But don’t just take it from us, here’s what Vanessa has to say:

“The program I teach (Hypnobirthing Australia Positive Birth Program) has been shown to reduce epidural rates, lower interventions such as induction of labour, caesarean birth, and increase spontaneous labour and overall positive feelings after birth.”

Can hypnobirthing induce labour?

So, if hypnobirth can help increase the speed of spontaneous labour, does that mean hypnobirthing can induce labour as well? Well, no (and, in a way, yes).  

“No birth education or preparation will induce labour,” Vanessa says. “But the one thing that will begin labour is if the mother is feeling calm and relaxed.”

“Ultimately, it comes down to when the baby is ready to be born and how relaxed the body is. If you are feeling stressed, your body won’t feel safe to labour and birth.”

A close up side shot of a pregnant stomach. The mum-to-be is holding her stomach and looking down lovingly. It’s bonding between mother and baby before birth.

Hypnobirth birth plan

When it comes to preparing your birth plan and preferences for a hypnobirth, Vanessa says it doesn’t need to be too different from any ‘regular’ birth plan. At the end of the day, at its core, a birth plan is there to help communicate your wishes to your pregnancy care team, regardless of the type of birth or birthing techniques you have chosen.

From her experience, Vanessa says: “During birth classes, parents will learn all about their options including pain relief and potential interventions.”  

“From this, a birth preference can be developed to help their caregivers become more aware of their wishes and how to best support them with those wishes.”

“Some parents will put into their birth plan to keep the environment calm, quiet and dark, or to have medical conversations outside of the room so to not disturb the woman birthing.”

“Techniques range from breathing, and many mothers will request for no interruptions during a surge.”

“Apart from that, positions are purely based around how the mother wishes to be at the time, and partners are the ones who advocate and support their wishes.”

Hypnobirthing techniques for a gentle birth

If you’re looking to start your hypnobirthing journey, there are three main techniques Vanessa says have been tried and trusted by mamas before you, regardless of your delivery method.  

“The common techniques are breathing, massage, and visualisation. Visualisation is such a powerful tool, yet it is one of the most under-utilised tools.”

“No matter the type of birth you are having, vaginal or caesarean, these techniques can be applied to all scenarios.”

“Many women I teach come to me in preparation for their caesarean births and utilise many of these tools to help them remain calm and in the moment.”

A future mother cradles her pregnancy bump. She looks thoughtful, like she is preparing a birth plan.

Are hypnobirthing courses worth it?

While all birthing journeys are different, and every mama will prefer certain techniques over others, Vanessa has a unique output on the value of hypnobirthing as both an educator and someone who has gone through it all before.

“Before I became a hypnobirthing educator I engaged in hypnobirthing for the birth of my first baby,” she says.

“And I can say it was absolutely worth it. The tools you will learn are lifelong tools, and both you and your partner will walk away feeling really excited, confident, and empowered for your birth. No matter how it unfolds.”

Vanessa is a doula, hypnobirthing practitioner, and owner and creator of Illoura Birth. If you’re interested in exploring hypnobirthing to complete your pregnancy journey, reach out to her here. Her mission at Illoura Birth is to support families on the journey to meeting their babies with holistic and evidence-based information, with a focus on inspiring and boosting your confidence on the journey through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.  

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