Guest Post: Gemma Nealon, Positive Birth Scotland
What is natal hypnotherapy?
Natal Hypnotherapy is a form of hypnobirthing that teaches woman to let go of fear and work with their bodies during labour and birth. It teaches women to trust in their body’s ability to birth instinctively and calmly, to create a more relaxed and positive birth experience. It provides birth partners with the knowledge and practical skills to effectively and confidently support the expectant mum.
Having observed many births myself, when I became pregnant I knew that to have the birth I wanted, I needed to keep my mind calm and outlook positive. After searching many things, the only thing that really hit the nail on the head was Natal Hypnotherapy! A attended a workshop myself and found it was simple, realistic and so empowering. After a truly amazing and fulfilling labour and birth at home using Natal Hypnotherapy, I knew I had to start teaching it! What also attracted me to Natal Hypnotherapy was that it has really in depth training that is accredited by the Royal College of Midwives and unlike some forms of hypnobirthing, it requires no special language or breathing patterns and therefore I felt it worked very well within the NHS.
If you attend one of my 2 day Natal Hypnotherpay workshop I always say it like boot camp, whilst I prepare you to positively focus on the labour on birth you want, you will also be prepared for anything that could unexpectedly happen on the day. In this way you can feel positive about the experience regardless of how or where it happened!
How does Natal Hypnotherpay work?
To understand this you need to understand why so many woman report a negative experience of labour and birth. Mother nature is kind and has gifted the birthing woman with everything her body needs to give birth; a cocktail of hormones ready to serve and guide her body every step of the way. These wonderful hormones make her uterus contract, cervix dilate, trigger the production of natural pain relieving hormones and generally make woman feel safe and calm during childbirth. The problem is that if a woman (or any mammal for that matter) is scared or stressed during labour and birth her body releases the ‘fight or flight’ hormone adrenaline which can have a negative impact on her body. This hormone basically sends a message to the brain that it is not a safe time to give birth. Pretty clever if you are a labouring giraffe and a lion comes to hunt you whilst your in labour isn’t it, but not so much if it is imagined fear because you have been hearing too many horrific birth stories or tuning into ‘One Born Every Minute’ too much!
The consequence of this fear is that the positive hormones that make labour and birth manageable and safe are no longer produced which can stall labour, make it more painful and put a lot of stress on the body. When attending a Natal Hypnotherapy workshop woman will learn to let go of this fear to avoid this happening and in addition learn relaxation techniques to keep adrenaline out of the equation and themselves calm throughout the process.
What are the benefits?
The statistics speak for themselves. Natal Hypnotherapy users have an average Caesarean rate up to half the national average. Medical research has repeatedly found that hypnosis for childbirth reduces surgical intervention, neonatal admissions, use of pain medication, mum’s pain perception, labour times and postnatal depression. Furthermore it increases breastfeeding rates.
How does it differ from other hynobirthing courses?
Whilst Hypnobirthing has become a generic term for many methods of hypnosis for childbirth, Natal Hypnotherapy is different. Natal Hypnotherapy was founded in the UK and has been designed alongside the NHS, where it is greatly welcomed and recommended by many midwives and birth professionals. Midwives and obstetricians welcome it because it does not require them to change their language when supporting women in labour like other methods of hypnobirthing (for example, ‘contraction’ to ‘surge’ or ‘ pain’ to ‘sensation’). Natal Hypnotherapy empowers a woman to lead herself into hypnosis, which means she is less reliant on her birth partner. It is also unique as the mother is encouraged to find a breathing pattern right for herself. I really love it because as a midwife myself I think it works really well with, and not against the NHS to really enhance your experience.
Does this replace the need for an antenatal class?
Absolutely not, whilst some people who attend my workshop choose not to attend any other courses, it has been created to complement other classes such as NHS antenatal education classes or NCT.
What will happen at a class?
The first day focuses exclusively on natural pain management tools and techniques – namely breathing, relaxation and self-hypnosis. You will learn how to quickly and easily recognize and reduce adrenaline associated with fear and anxiety in labour; natural ways to work with your body during childbirth and how the birth partner can help the mum to achieve a deeply relaxed state during labour and birth.
On the second day we focus on the practical ways to help you prepare both physically, mentally and emotionally for the birth. You will be taken step by step through the birthing process from a physical as well as emotional perspective and you will gain a clear understanding of the power of hormones and how you can work with them. You will come away with an overflowing tool kit of skills and ideas of things to do to help the process. Importantly we explore the most effective ways to work with the medical team supporting the labour mum with a special session for birth partner to helps them prepare appropriate questions for the medical team and plan the best support and comfort measures for the mother.
Do dads or partners need to come too?
Natal Hypnotherapy workshops have been created in a unique way so they can be attended alone by a Mother if a birth partner is not available. I always say that the best form of pain relief is support and therefore it would be most beneficial for Mum and birth partner to attend together if possible. He or she will gain invaluable skills and knowledge to help you during labour. Birth partner’s attending Natal Hypnotherapy workshops leave feeling empowered and confident in their role as birth partner and mother’s feel reassured that they will be well supported when the special day comes. In fact about half of the people who attend my workshops have been recommended to come by a Dad who has attended in the past.
What does a natal hypnotherapy birth look like?
There is no recipe. If you read some of the inspiring birth stories on my website you will see that they are all very different. The thing I love about Natal Hypnotherapy is that it can be used regardless of where or how you choose to birth. Whilst some people give birth at home, some may need or choose to give birth in hospital. Many woman who attend my workshop tell my they turned up at hospital fully dilated after a quick and manageable labour and didn’t need any pain relief, however I also am told that when things didn’t go to plan, for example if they were induced, they also felt positive and that this was when the techniques they learnt on my workshop were so useful and needed. The only common thread is that the feedback is that regardless of what the birth looked like, it was a positive one.
When does it work best?
I recommend that you attend the workshops between 28 and 36 weeks.
Does it work for everyone?
From my experience yes; I am amazed by the positive feedback I get. You don’t have to believe it will work, Natal Hypnotherapy techniques are useful for anyone giving birth regardless of where or how.
How to book onto a class?
I teach my workshops from Mulberry House in Edinburgh’s West End, however if you are interested in attending a course in another area you can visit the main Natal Hypnotherapy website to find a course near you.
This is a guest post by Gemma Nealon, a practising midwife and mother, who is passionate about helping parents to have a positive birth experience regardless of where or how they intend to give birth. Gemma is also a qualified NLP practitioner, massage therapist and has almost 2 decades of committed meditation practise. She combines this knowledge with her experience within maternity services to offers unique Natal Hypnotherapy workshops and relaxation classes in the Edinburgh area. Gemma is always happy to chat informally about Natal Hypnotherapy and how it can help you personally.
For more details on Gemma’s workshops, and to contact her please visit her website – http://www.positivebirthscotland.com