This article was written and provided by Mia Scotland. Mia is a HypnoBirthing Practitioner providing parents in the Midlands with antenantal classes to help with natural births. To contact Mia visit yourbirthright.

What is HypnoBirthing

HypnoBirthing is a set antenatal class (about 12 hours of teaching) which teaches you about natural birth - how the birthing body works, especially your muscles and your hormones and how nature does a fantastic job when given the right environment. You learn that when you are relaxed you have a much easier birth. The program was devised and written by Marie Mongan, and has been tried and tested for over 17 years.

Why is relaxation so important?

The classes teach how the wrong birthing environment can set off the wrong hormones, and lead to problems like pain and "failure to progress". It's a bit like sex - if you try to have sex when you're tense and scared you won't be in the right mindset and you won't get lubricated or opened up and sex will probably hurt. But if you are relaxed, then the body releases love hormones, and lubricating hormones and sex is fun! Birthing can be the same. When really relaxed during birthing, your body will release loads of really good hormones which make you feel happy, in love, on a high and kind of spaced out. Just knowing this sets you on a path to a good birth - because you become less scared of birth!

How does HypnoBirthing get you to really relax?

This is the good bit. HypnoBirthing teaches self-hypnosis, using your partner's help (yes - he gets a really important part to play in all of this. No more feeling like a spare part). You stay fully awake, fully aware and fully in control, but your body learns how to focus on your birth and your baby, and how to really really relax, using specially tailored breathing, visualisation, and hypnotherapy techniques which you learn during the classes. When I used this technique for my third baby, the midwife simply didn't believe I was in labour. I was so relaxed. Two hours later, my baby was born.

Is it expensive, and is it worth it?

These classes are run by HypnoBirthing practitioners, who are specially trained. They do charge anything from £150 to £400. For that, you get all the above, as well as information about where to have your baby, how to do a birth plan, what to eat, what exercise to do, how to relate to the hospital staff, bonding with baby, how to avoid induction and more (oh - and you get a free text book, and two CDs). What you don't get is information about non-natural births (such as complications or epidurals), as it is believed that this would raise fear levels rather than reduce them, and because midwife support is so good anyway. For your money, you also get a calmer baby. Because HypnoBirthing is all about gentle birth, babies seem to come out more alert, better feeders and better sleepers. And mums come out with more energy to enjoy this special bonding time.

Does it work?

Research shows that self-hypnosis during labour can have a positive impact on a whole range of areas, such as reduced time in labour, reduced intervention rates, reduced medication, reduced post natal depression and more. But most families and midwives realise that it works when they see it!

How do I find out more?

For details of what the course includes and for classes in the Midlands, go to yourbirthright. The national website has loads of information, including a list of all qualified practitioners so you can find your local one - See hypnobirthing.co.uk. The American website also has really interesting articles and information, on hypnobirthing.com. To really understand the ideas and techniques from the horse's mouth, why not buy the book - "HypnoBirthing: The Breakthrough Approach to Safer, Easier, Comfortable Birthing" by Marie Mongan.

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