There’s no such thing as [a typical] hypnobirth,” says Jasmine Collin, a UAE-based hypnobirthing practitioner. “There’s no such thing as labour being pain-free.
“My definition of a success story is one where the parents come out and tell me that it was a positive experience no matter what came their way – whether they had an epidural, a C-section, an induction - no matter what it looks like, they were calm, they made informed decisions that felt right for them on the day, they felt supported, respected, that they were treated with dignity,” she adds.
It’s something that resonates with Danish expat and mother-of-three Sabrina Kolind. When the UAE-based expat was pregnant with her third child, she was ecstatic – right up until the 30th week. Then the dread started to set in.
You know, we are never really taught about how our bodies work, how childbirth works – so giving women knowledge is really powerful, reminding them of their innate abilities to birth and then showing them videos of women doing it that don’t look anything like the movies.
“I’d been overdue with my first two boys and then I was told I’d need to be induced with my third as well. My first one was a very long labour (52 hours). We just went with what the doctors said, because we weren’t really sure what to do. And then my second one was I was convinced because everyone says the second one is faster he’ll come before the date, but then when I was overdue I was induced it was another very long labour (24 hours),” she recalls.
So when the first due date began to get closer she was frightened. “Everything I didn’t like about my first and second time just took up so much space in my head that I was just like I need to do something about it otherwise I’ll be terrified before it even starts. I realised that I was actually really really scared about giving birth again,” she said.
Hypnosis for pain?
And that’s when research led her to hypnobirthing, which teaches a mum practical self-hypnosis, relaxation and other techniques along with educating her about the birth process in order to make the process an easier one.
“All hypnobirthing courses generally follow the same holistic approach to pregnancy and labour. In essence, we provide all the information possible to parents so that they feel so empowered and secure enough in their knowledge and capabilities that they can take control over their pregnancy and labour and have a birth experience they want and deserve, whatever shape or form that may take,” explains UK-based Clinical Hypnotherapist at Mind Solutions Tessa Kiernander.
All hypnobirthing courses generally follow the same holistic approach to pregnancy and labour. In essence, we provide all the information possible to parents so that they feel so empowered and secure enough in their knowledge and capabilities that they can take control over their pregnancy and labour and have a birth experience they want and deserve, whatever shape or form that may take
Kolind says that although her third birth meant a 29-hour labour window, this time around she was calmer. “I felt like with the first two I went into an exam without studying for me. With the third one, I did the studying and I did the exam and I felt like I went through it a lot easier, a lot smoother. Nothing really came as a surprise and even though nothing came really as I expected, I felt like it was I wanted – or that me and my husband wanted – that we did at the end. We had made the decision,” she says.
Relationship with spouse
It meant that her relationship with her husband was that much stronger as well. “I think the biggest difference was the connection I had with my husband. Like, with the first two, he was there but he didn’t know what to do or how to help me. He wanted to help me but he didn’t really know when or what to say or what to do. Whereas with number three, because we’d done Jasmine’s classes, we had a lot of different techniques that we learned and we had a plan made that if I was in a lot of pain, we have like five different things we could try. I thought that with number three we were on the same page. We understood what I wanted and I didn’t have to think about what I wanted because I knew he knew, and it was so much more relaxing knowing that I could let him speak for me,” she explains.
Collins explains that hypnobirthing actually begins with de-hypnotising a person and countering things a person has been told their whole life. Real birth isn’t, for example, anything like the drama you see on television, she says. “You know, we are never really taught about how our bodies work, how childbirth works – so giving women knowledge is really powerful, reminding them of their innate abilities to birth and then showing them videos of women doing it that don’t look anything like the movies. Unless you question those births that are installed in your mind through movies, your mind just accepts it as reality. It’s about updating your understanding and knowledge, and then we do fear release work. So there’s hypnosis tracks to uncover any limiting beliefs about your birth, beliefs, body and we release those fears.”
It’s something that also benefited another of Collins’ clients: then 37-year-old Turkish expat Yeliz Olcay, who had undergone two C-sections before deciding to try a natural birth and enlisted Collins’ help. “It was very stressful for me because virginal birth after C-section is a very risky to try and in some hospitals they don’t even allow you to try,” she says. But the after effects of her C-sections – one due to gestational diabetes; the other because of the first C-section – had left her with pain post-delivery. “They take the baby out when you are asleep, bonding afterwards takes time.”
With this natural birth, she says: “You are crying, so many emotions, you see the baby coming out – you feel it with all your five senses. You touch the baby, you smell the baby, you see the baby, you hear the baby crying. Since I didn’t have any anesthesia, I felt every moment – it was very emotional, I cried, my husband was crying. Immediately after they let you hold your baby, you have skin to skin touch, you have a bond with your baby – I regretted to have all the C-sections before.”
It helped that her labour wasn’t long-drawn-out. She says. “I went to the hospital at around 4pm and we had the baby at 7.15pm; everything happened in just three hours. Since the contractions had started in the morning hours, I understood the baby was coming, because Jasmine doesn’t only help you to understand what hypnobirth is but she also gives you a lot useful information on how it’s going to start and how it’s going to continue. Since she tells you a lot of tips and tricks for the whole process you learn how to stay calm and you know how to [behave] and what to expect when something is happening to your body.
“When I had the contractions we directly went to the hospital because [it was a risky delivery]. I couldn’t have any painkillers because it was a [virginal birth after two C-sections]. They told me they could not give me their epidural, not even a Panadol – they cannot give me anything. Because you have to feel the pain, if something is not going correctly, you have to feel it and you have to warn your doctor… If something is going out of control, they have very little time to take action,” she adds.
The breathing and visualization techniques really helped, she says. “[The] most helpful tip [was] closing your eyes, listening to the hypnobirthing tracks and trying to put yourself into a trance mode. I really felt after trying for 15-20 minutes I had managed to go to that trance state and I started not feeling the pain at all.”
Guess it can be just a little pain-free.
Considering hypnobirth in UAE? This is what you need to know.
What is hypnobirthing?
“All hypnobirthing courses generally follow the same holistic approach to pregnancy and labour. In essence, we provide all the information possible to parents so that they feel so empowered and secure enough in their knowledge and capabilities that they can take control over their pregnancy and labour and have a birth experience they want and deserve, whatever shape or form that may take,” says UK-based Clinical Hypnotherapist Tessa Kiernander.
Does hypnobirthing mean no epidurals?
Collins says of course not. She explains: “I had one couple that came last week, and the [pregnant woman] said to me – I’m thinking of having an epidural and I want to put that up front, and was just like, absolutely, the epidural is in your toolbox. Think of it as your toolbox, but let’s put it right at the bottom and only use it if you get to that point in your birth.
“But let’s put a lot of other tools, support, knowledge, breathing techniques – you know, so many tools on top of that – and if you’ve gone all the way down and you’ve used up all the tools and you cross that line from ‘I got this’ to ‘I don’t got this’ and I’m really suffering and I’m really struggling and I need some extra support, have the epidural....
“You’d have known when the right time for you is…because that’s going to be different for every woman… it’s about doing your best with the situation that you have.”
Is it better than Lamaze?
Kiernander says that Lamaze follows a lot of the same principals as hypnobirthing, however it doesn’t include the hypnosis element. What a lot of people don’t realise is that hypnosis is a very natural state, it is simply being incredibly relaxed, and when your mind is relaxed, your body is relaxed – and that can make a huge difference to your birthing experience.
“If your mind is panicked or in a state of fear during labour then your body will respond as it would in a fight or flight situation, meaning your brain will think you are under threat and start rerouting its energy and resources onto the wrong parts of your body. This is when your labour will start ‘shutting down’, or ‘slowing’ and these are generally situations when the medical interventions in your labour and birth will happen. However, if your mind is relaxed, your brain and body will be relaxed, and will be able to do the job it is naturally designed to do during birth, which is to get your baby out safely, at your body’s own speed.”
Can anyone use this method? Or is there a screening process to see who will and who won’t respond to it?
She adds: “Absolutely anyone can use hypnobirthing, there is no screening for who won’t respond because hypnosis is a natural state that everyone goes into every day – it just depends on the personality of the couple involved. Some partners don’t want to get involved in hypnosis, which is totally fine – but they have to be invested in the following the methods taught and supportive of the expecting mother in their decisions. Again, the type of course and the trainer is an incredibly important aspect, so I would recommend screening from the parents side, to make sure they are in the right course for them, with the right person to support them.”
How far into your pregnancy can you begin to train for the delivery?
“Most hypnobirthing courses will say to begin at around 30 weeks – but again, this depends on the course provider. I’ve worked with families from 30 weeks and I’ve worked with families who were already at 37 weeks, and as long as they are committed to investing time in the course, practising the techniques and listening to the hypnosis tracks, they can have an incredibly rewarding birthing experience,” says Kiernander.
Collin concurs. “Ideally, any time after the first trimester – [I offer an] eight-week course in a group setting. And you need to have the full eight weeks plus I would say it is good to have one month after so you can practice the tools. It’s a bit like yoga – if you just go to a yoga class and then you don’t practice, nothing is going to happen,” she says.
What are the things a person should ask/know when deciding on this method of delivery?
Kiernander and Collins agree that any person considering hypnobirthing should meet with the trainer ahead of starting the course. “[This will allow them] to get some insight into what is covered, what is provided in terms of the hypnosis tools and tracks that is personal or generic, how much face time they get with the trainer for personal support, and so they are sure that there is a mutual relationship of trust, empathy and understanding between parent and trainer. The relationship between ‘client’ and ‘therapist’ in any setting is always key – this is not diminished because it’s ‘just’ labour,” says Kiernander
Do a check Kiernander adds, “Check with any hypnobirthing trainer their qualifications and certifications to ensure you get the highest level of professionalism and care possible!”
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