For the past few months I have been working my way through Natal Hypnotherapy's online hypnobirthing course. I had used Natal Hypnotherapy's VBAC tracks when I was preparing for Jude's birth and they alone were very effective, so when I was offered the chance to review the online course I couldn't say no! Not all parents have the option to attend physical workshops, perhaps due to location, timings or, like me, unable to fit classes around children. So the online hypnobirthing class offered by Natal Hypnotherapy sounded ideal. I could benefit from all of Maggie Howell's knowledge and wisdom, from the comfort of my bedroom and at a time to suit me.
The online hypnobirthing class from Natal Hypnotherapy is a step by step birth preparation course taught by Maggie Howell, and helps expectant mums and their partners feel more in control, more relaxed, and more prepared for birth. It is run completely online with no physical classes to attend and the course can be started, stopped and resumed entirely at your own pace. You can also access the course via any device; I have used my laptop, my phone and my iPad to complete the classes!
The hypnobirthing course is made up of 16 modules, each one a manageable 25-35 minutes long. The first few modules explain what self-hypnosis is and how it works - you'd be surprised at how many people have visions of Derren Brown when you mention hypnobirthing to them, but it's not like that at all! If you imagine how you feel when you are day dreaming, that is what it feels like. It feels like you have drifted off for a moment, but you are still completely aware of your surroundings and you are in control.
The next couple of chapters discuss childbirth and look at why there is so much fear around childbirth, especially in the western world, and the effect that it can have. This leads on to the relaxation and breathing techniques, which for me were incredibly helpful during Jude's birth so I am hopeful that they will help with this birth, too, and modules on personalising your birth preparations and comfort measures you can use.
As well as covering hypnobirthing, the course has several modules on the physiology of birth, the role that hormones and emotions play, an explanation of what induction is and how you can avoid it, and even what to expect from your medical team. There is a module for your birth partner to help them prepare too so that they are in the best position to be able to support you. To me this makes it a complete antenatal course, as these are all the sorts of things you would learn at other antenatal classes, so there is no need to attend these separately. Unless you really want to, of course!
The course is supported with videos, worksheets and several handouts to print and use, such as pregnancy and birth affirmations, a reflective diary, relaxation guides and information about induction and the alternatives. There are a couple of checkpoints through the course which you fill in and Maggie herself receives and responds to, and there is access to a Facebook group, which I must remember to join. And there are four fantastic hypnobirthing tracks to listen to throughout the course and beyond.
There is the Pregnancy Relaxation track which is a 15 minute track focusing on pure relaxation. It's ideal to listen to daily to keep calm and relaxed. There is a Letting Go of Fear track, which as the name suggests helps you to acknowledge then let go of your fear. It can be listened to at any time, but is particularly helpful when going through any worries. The other two tracks are the Mother's Birth Rehearsal and the Partner's Birth Rehearsal tracks which can be listened to 2-3 times a week from around 32 weeks onwards.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that with this being my third baby I'd be a pro at pregnancy and birth by now, but there are always things that you forget, there are new things to learn, and for me, I still carry fears and anxieties about the upcoming birth. My low-lying placenta and the possibility of a c-section have been a big source of worry for me during the past few months so the Letting Go of Fear track has been listened to a lot. I say listened to, but actually I always fall asleep without fail every time I play a track!
There is something very soothing and calming about Maggie's voice, especially as I have used Natal Hypnotherapy tracks before, so it is familiar to me. As soon as I started listening to the tracks again this time round I immediately felt calm and at peace. I can't tell you much about what the tracks say as I fall asleep so quickly! The interesting thing is that I always wake up at the end, at the point where Maggie is bringing you out of hypnosis. So I feel this is not me falling asleep properly, but rather getting into a very, VERY relaxed state!
I know they work though, even though I fall asleep, it will still be absorbed. When I was in labour with Jude, the hypnosis just kicked in with each contraction. My thoughts would take me to the place of comfort in my mind and I would breathe and visualise things that I had subconsciously taken in from listening to the hypnobirthing tracks.
In planning for a home birth I know my pain relief options are very limited; the midwives carry gas and air and that is it! I will be relying heavily on the relaxation and breathing techniques that I have learned through doing the Natal Hypnotherapy Course and I am hoping that the hypnosis tracks that I have been listening to will kick in like they did last time and help me to stay calm and focused.
I will of course be updating the blog with my birth story when the baby is here in just a few weeks time, so do check back to see if and how Natal Hypnotherapy helps. In the meantime if you are interested in finding out more about the online course you can find it here. The course is £97, which includes £40 of hypnosis tracks.
You can find out more about Natal Hypnotherapy and all the products and packages they offer here.