Hypnobirthing: What You’ve Always Wanted To Ask…

If you’re a regular reader of Rock My Family then you’ll probably have read the various and very different labour stories from each member of the team. If you haven’t then you can read all about them by clicking the ‘Birth’ option from the ‘Glow’ icon in the menu above this image. Despite reading about hypnobirthing, hearing about it from friends and NCT groups, and being fascinated by its philosophy none of us have experienced the technique directly ourselves.

So when Nicky from Mamacan Hypnobirthing joined The Littles List recently, I reached out to ask her if she would like to share her experiences and wisdom with you lovely lot. Fortunately for us she said yes so she’s here today to give you an insight into what Hypnobirthing means for you and how it works. She’ll also be answering any questions you have about the technique on the blog today too so please feel free to ask away by using the comments box at the bottom of the post.

Take it away Nicky….

So What Is Hypnobirthing?

Its suspicious name may conjure up images of incense waving, tie-dye wearing hippies, birthing with dolphins. As much as a small part of me likes the idea of dolphins splashing around my birthing pool, Hypnobirthing is actually a rather scientific, common sense approach to birth. I am a lawyer by trade and naturally quite risk adverse – my first birth was not really the time to try my hand at something that was founded on anything a bit wishy washy.


Hypnobirthing is nothing new. It is arguably what women have been doing for thousands of years before our “thinking brain” got in the way and over complicated things. I like to think it’s a bit like organic food – we are simply stripping things back to basics before all the modern-day meddling.

The foundations of Hypnobirthing are rooted in physiology and it educates us on how our bodies are perfectly designed to give birth effectively. It addresses fears around birth and how they negatively affect your body functioning, and most importantly provides us with a tool box to have a positive, calm and empowering birth experience.

Hypnobirthing Is For Partners Too!

It also gives your birth partner a vital role to play in the lead up and during your birth. Most of us have images of lost looking men attending their partner’s birth, having their hand squeezed and being swatted away like an irritating fly while they try and mop a brow. When it comes to the main event they may be allowed to join in the “push push” chant from the side lines. For Hypnobirthing mums however, their birth partner is their birth environment facilitator, their advocate and their protector. Their role is to ensure you can simply relax, while they take care of communicating with your care providers, ensuring you have everything you need to birth calmly and comfortably. 


Hypnobirthing Classes

Taking Hypnobirthing classes does not guarantee you a “perfect birth”; indeed there is no such thing as a “perfect birth”. There is simply the birth that is right for you and your baby in particular circumstances on a particular day. While Hypnobirthing is associated with natural birth with minimal interventions and pain relief, the techniques taught are invaluable in any birth scenario as they teach you to release fear and anxiety, and have complete confidence in your body’s ability to birth your baby. The relaxation techniques can be used whatever type of birth you have, allowing you to stay calm and in control. 

A Hypnobirthing course is typically taught over about 8 hours (although this differs between teachers), and is broken up into a number of classes. The classes equip you and your birth partner with techniques to practice daily in the lead up to the birth. It does require a commitment to practice and the more you put in the more you get out of it. When the time arrives for you to give birth, much of the hard work has already been done!

As you can see, I feel passionately that all women should have the chance to learn Hypnobirthing prior to their birth. If you’d like to chat more, please do get in touch!

Personally I’d definitely consider Hypnobirthing next time round; I know having chatted with some friends who did attend classes that they found the techniques that they learned invaluable during their labours. Are any of you considering taking classes or perhaps are already doing so? Is there anything you’d like to ask Nicky? Please do feel free to make the most of her guidance and advice by jotting down your questions in the comments box below.

Nicky Khan is a qualified KG Hypnobirthing teacher, accredited by the Royal College of Midwives, and founder of MAMACAN Hypnobirthing, a common-sense approach to birth, based in SW London.

Image by WE ARE // THE CLARKES

Lolly is happiest when she is surrounded by her two boys, husband Ste and two year old Hector, a pile of Maltesers and a mountain of the prettiest blooms. She won’t say no to an espresso Martini either…
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45 Comments. Leave new

Nicky, what an awesome piece! You’ve got a great way of making hypnobirthing sound totally normal and accessible. I’m a huge proponent!

My birth experience with Ethan was far from my natural water birth plan with an emergency caesarean due to pre-eclampsia, but the techniques I learned during hypnobirthing were absolutely invaluable at not loosing my mind amidst 15 hours of labour and the complications.

I also feel like it’s got to be beneficial to the baby too, but I’d love to know if there’s any science to back that up?

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Naomi, we did a KG course recently and all the births we saw on video were v calm and the baby didn’t cry when born apparently because it’s so much less traumatic for baby. She didn’t comment on long term impact unfortunately but you’d have to assume it’s positive

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Thank you Naomi and I’m so glad to hear you found Hypnobirthing useful at your birth – I really think a lot of the skills learnt are invaluable in coping with changing and challenging circumstances.

In my opinion there is still so much more research that should be done on the effects of Hypnobirthing of mums and babies, but in one study mums who used hypnosis for managing stress and anxiety were found to have more active foetuses (Zimmer et al, 1988) and for those who practised Hypnobirthing techniques during pregnancy, it has also been found to reduce the number of premature births for mums with higher levels of psychosocial stress (Reinhard, et al, 2009; Reinhard, et al, 2010).

Anecdotally many Hypnobirthing mums say they their babies tend to latch, feed and settle quicker and tend to be more “chilled out” bubbas.

They do say, Happy Mum Happy Baby!

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This is really interesting, thanks.

I was fortunate to have a very straightforward ‘easy’ birth with my eldest but reflecting on it when pregnant with my second, I realised the one thing I would have changed was how panicked I felt by the pain- I really wanted to be calmer the second time.

Unfortunately I only had this lightbulb moment a couple of weeks before I had my second but in that time did some swift hypnobirthing practice via a CD my friend lent me. I was skeptical I gave to admit but I was MUCH calmer in my second delivery. Being more in control of the way I reacted to the discomfort really made a difference.

I can’t imagine the positive impact if I had actually done a full course properly!

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Fionnula I’m so pleased you found it helpful!

Retaining a feeling of control is so important and can really change your birth experience for the better. Remaining calm really helps to break that fear, pain, tension cycle.

So pleased you had a positive experience 🙂

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We did a KG course recently and found it so interesting- you obviously expect it to be focused on relaxation techniques but a big part was all about how choices running up to the birth (vaginal exams, waters being broken) can impact the birth itself. It was v much focused on knowing your choices and encouraging you to question the doctor etc if you weren’t happy/didn’t understand why a particular treatment was being recommended. It’s also really helpful for partners to know how they can support you

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Absolutely Emma – a massive part of the Hypnobirthing course is understanding the options that may be offered to you, the reasons behind them and what questions you can be asking to ensure you are fully informed before making any decision.

You may have learnt the ackronym BRAIN:
Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Instinct, Nothing – which is a really useful reminder of what you can be asking when presented with choices/ interventions during your pregnancy and birth.

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Hypnobirthing helped me to feel calm and in control. I didn’t attend a course but bought a book and listened to the CD lots. The birth of my son wasn’t as I would have liked it – he was induced but I did manage to avoid other drugs. If I get pregnant again I would explain to medical staff that I had been practising Hypnobirthing as I was so calm that they didn’t believe I was in active labour and my son’s entrance to the world was rather more dramatic than necessary. X

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Kate thank you for your comment – I always tell my Hypnobirthing mums to tell their midwife that they are practising Hypnobirthing. One of the earliest assessments midwives makes is by speaking to the labouring mum on the phone to see how they are coping – many mum’s practising Hypnobirthing sound (and are!) calm and in control and midwives therefore don’t assume they are very far along! Needless to say when they arrive at hospital they are often much further along than was anticipated!

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I believe my hypnobirthing preparation (with Mia Scotland of Mindful Mamma) was a key factor (along with lots of pregnancy yoga) in my amazing birth experience. I felt empowered to achieve the calm, manageable, unassisted birth that I had envisioned. It was quite incredible.

I think the name ‘hypnobirth’ Is a bit of a misnoma. For me, it’s actually an informed, empowered, mindful pregnancy and birth without fear.

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Philippa I am cheering over here! You are sooo right… Hypnobirthing has a terrible name which sadly puts people off it. I am trying to dispel these preconceptions and show that it is as you say a common sense, informed, calm approach to birth!!

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Holly Mia Leech
29th March 2017 8:02 am

I did Natal Hypnotherapy myself using Maggie Howell’s effective birth preparation cd and book which I recommend to everyone now! After a very tough pregnancy (suffered from HG) preparing for labour by listening to the CD gave me some sense of control and it worked for me 100%. I can honestly say that both myself and husband found the whole experience enjoyable (of course hard work it wouldn’t be called labour if there wasn’t some work involved!) it was so positive and controlled and the techniques worked for me completely. I also credit my calm birth with having such a calm and content daughter. I would love to share my story if you’re ever looking for real life example as I think it’s so important that people know they can have a positive and enjoyable experience!

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Thank you for sharing Holly – it’s so important that people share their positive birth stories as our society’s fear of childbirth is so often compounded by all the negative only stories being told. So thank you! x

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Hi holly, could I ask which of Maggie’s CDs you used? There seem to be quite a few options! I’m enjoying the book at the moment but keen to start using the CD too. Many thanks

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With my first baby who was back to back I had a rather stressful and panicked labour – from the minute the contractions started at home until I was out of theatre in recovery after a lot of stitches ? I felt out of control and scared which of course totally hindered the labour.
Second time around my lovely midwife (who has just qualified as a hypnobirthing practioner) and various friends suggested hypnobirthing as a way of some control over my fear. So we’ve done a couple of classes and already I’m feeling more positive.
I like the fact it’s science based – I’m very far removed from being an “earth mother” – and that it is all about what works for you.
Here’s hoping that I can put it into practice when number arrives… any day now…

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It sounds like you’ve put yourself in the best possible place for a more positive birth Victoria and what a wonderful midwife you have! Wishing you all the best for your little ones arrival any day! x

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Ps I didn’t actually do the course with my midwife but a local NCT lady who’s also a breastfeeding guru!

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Another person who was put off and a bit scornful about hypnobirthing first time around… but following a series of nightmares and flashbacks about my first birth (3day botched induction, forceps) when pregnant with number 2 I decided I had to act and bought some of the CDs and book. From the day I listened to it first and did some of the fear release written exercises the nightmares stopped.

My second labour was very fast and ended with an unplanned at home delivery. Woke up with a slight stomachache and had a baby in an hour! But I stayed calm and collected with the help of the techniques I had learnt and it was magical. My new little man is so relaxed and happy too.

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Lucy I’m so glad you had such a different experience second time round! x

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Literally couldn’t be more different. Mulling over attempting to write a “tale of two labours” post as it’s just so much down to what happens on the day!

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Lucy – sorry to butt in but that’s so encouraging to hear! My baby was born after a four-day induction, with forceps, got stuck and I had a severe PPH afterwards. I’m leaning towards an elective c-section if we have another baby so it’s really reassuring that it can be so different second time round.

Oh and whilst I didn’t practice Hypnobirthing as such, I used a few of the techniques I learnt doing yoga. Definitely a fan 🙂

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Great informative piece! I’m 22 weeks with my second, and whilst my first was straight forward/natural etc I did struggle with the pain and exhaustion (I think a large part of that was panic). I can’t have an epidural due to spinal surgery or use TENS, so I don’t have a huge amount of pain relief options even if I wanted them! I’ve been considering hypnobirthing but as we just moved house cannot afford a course. Can anyone recommend a CD/book for us to practice at home?

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Hi Anna, while a course would be ideal I completely understand the budget constraints! I wouldn’t highly recommend The Hypnobirthing Book by Katherine Graves which you can buy on Amazon with the accompanying CD which compliments the book. I’d be happy to chat further with you if you wish – I’m sure RMF could swap our details! x

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That should say I WOULD highly recommend! Thank you auto correct!!

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Thank you so much! I’m happy to have my email passed on, thank you for the advice!

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I used the Maggie Howell CDs and got a second hand set of 4 for £6.. bargain!

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Thank you, Lucy!

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I found one of the most positive and empowering aspects of my hypnobirthing course was learning about the ‘cascade of intervention’ (apologies if I have the term wrong, it’s been a while!). I felt empowered enough to refuse the sweeps I was routinely offered once I was full term, and to just let my pregnancy ‘be’. To have the belief your body is perfectly equipped to give birth was a wonderful realisation.

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Absolutely Stacy (and spot on with your terminology! ?) Unfortunately so many women feel pressurised into interventions without having the opportunity to look into the alternatives or simply “waiting and see” for a little longer and putting trust in their body.

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This is something I will definitely be considering second time around. My first labour had to be very medically managed for a number of reasons and escalated to an emergency quickly. Everyone commented at the time how calm I was but looking back I think I was in shock and just withdrew into myself a bit. The outcome was a healthy baby and mum so I wouldn’t change a single thing about it but I remember very little of it.

My husband on the other hand still has flashbacks and worries about having another baby due to what the labour might be like. I also worry how I might react next time knowing what happened first time around.

I think something like this would be beneficial for us both. Even if it is a similar situation to last time in labour I would like to be able to be more calm and present if that makes sense.

Great post, thank you xxx

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Thank you for your comment Mrs D. A Hypnobirthing course would be a fantastic choice for both you and your partner as you very much work together and spend some time in the beginning identifying both of your specific fears and then working throughout the course to help address and release those fears. Often there are quite specific anxieties where there has been a precious traumatic birth experience and extra work can be done to help reduce these particular fears x

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I am a HUGE advocate of Hypnobirthing – I did a Wise Hippo course when pregnant with my daughter after sadly loosing twins at 6 months pregnant a year before. I wanted to go into this labour calm and focused and that’s exactly what happened. I felt in control and confinement throughout and had a l quick uncomplicated labour. My daughter was born in the water and was so calm didn’t make a sound for the first few minutes. 10 months later she is still amazing chilled, sleeps well and eats well and I’m sure a lot of this is due to the calm labour.
In Australia its know as calm birthing which I think is much better than Hypnobirthing!

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Lucy I’m so pleased Hypnobirthing helped you and your daughter so much – I agree, Calm Birthing sounds a lot better! x

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I turned to hypnobirthing after a rather horrendous first labour that ended in an emergency caesarean. More so to fix my head as I had so many feelings of guilt and failure, that I just lost confidence my body was capable of a natural birth. We had private classes at home and my husband was completely supportive.

My second labour couldn’t have been more different (totally agree about the tale of two labours mentioned above!) and my daughter was born in four hours with no pain relief. I’ll be honest, it was t the calm almost pain free birth I’d envisioned, it was actually pretty raw and brutal in many ways, but the main thing is that I didn’t fight any of it. I trusted my body and went with it. I also think the pregnancy yoga I did also really complimented the techniques from hypnobirthing.

So for anyone who had a difficult first birth it really doesn’t have to be the same second time round. You truly can have an amazing and empowering experience.

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Thank you Agnes – so glad you had a much more positive experience second time round x

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I didn’t go on a course but was recommended a book and CD by a friend. Like others I found that it helped me be to be positive about my pregnancy and labour and went on to have a very positive birth experience. It gave me the confidence to refuse a sweep on my due date and the next day I started labouring naturally. Don’t get me wrong my labour was long and pushing was hard but I was in the pool for the active stage of labour and didn’t ever feel like I needed pain relief-I just trusted my body. So yes felt positive and empowered about my pregnancy and birth as a result of the calming techniques I had read about and practised!

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Awesome Kate! I love hearing people’s positive birth stories so thank you x

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i did pregancy yoga combined with natal hypnotherapy, and a hypnobirth CD with my daughter. unfortunately, due to her low birth weight and complications, we ended up with an induction leading to EmCS to ensure her safe delivery. However, as a result of the techniques I’d learnt, it was still quite a calm experience and was still able to keep a clear and calm head to allow for me to make suggestions to take a bit of control back from the situation. I truly believe that it would have been a far more traumatic experience if I hadnt had these skills to draw on. I will make sure I revisit this with number 2!!

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Amazing to hear it had such a positive effect Danielle and definitely something to look forward to with number 2!

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Such a well timed post for me, thank you! I am 26 weeks with my second and due to start one on one hypnobirthing sessions in a couple of weeks.

I had used a book and CD prior to my first labour, mainly due to budget constraints, but it all went out of the window unfortunately, in part due to me sounding so calm on the phone to the midwives! My little girl was back to back and although I was in a lot of pain I sounded calm enough for the midwives to tell me I was nowhere near ready to come in. By the time I rang again, 4 hours later, there was no room left in the unit and I was told to go to a different unit, further away. This all stressed me out terribly and everything ground to a halt after a few agonising hours, until I demanded an epidural and ended up being blue lighted to yet another hospital again, ending up with a forceps delivery due to a very stressed baby.

This time I’ve taken location worries into my own hands by opting for a home birth so if all goes to plan I won’t need to worry about going anywhere and I’m hoping the hypnobirthing will help even more.

My only worry is that my husband won’t be able to come to some, or all, of the sessions with me, as he will need to look after our little girl. I am hoping that I’ll be able to play back to him all of the information he will need, but wondered if anyone had a positive similar experience?

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Hi Cat, I am in fact currently teaching a couple in a very similar situation (the mum’s partner travels a lot for work). I think there are a few sections that are really helpful to do together if possible, namely the relaxation and breathing techniques, and the role of the birth partner. I would ask your teacher to cover those topics with you both there if you can. The rest can be done just with you and you can the discuss it with your partner and give him the book to read – if he then has any further questions I’m sure your teacher would be happy to discuss them or run a short Skype session perhaps? I hope this helps!

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I decided to do a hypnobirthing course as I had a fear of needles and the last thing I wanted was to have any form of injection in my spine for pain relief.
The day came and I laboured in a birthing pool with no drugs, not even gas and air. After 2 hours of pushing it was identified that the babies head was at a funny angle and I needed assistance. I was then into theatre and a whole host of needles were administered – but I kept calm and followed my hypnobirthing “affirmations” to get me through it.
Totally recommend it, thinking positive thoughts throughout the whole process helped the body do what it was naturally designed to do. I still use my affirmations daily (and when needles are about!) “I’m a strong capable woman”

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Please ignore my iPhone typos .. 12 week baby sleeping on me !

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I thought I would just chip in with a stightly alternative story. I too struggled with the thought of labour. So to focus, I took my birth preparation very seriously; I did hypno-birthing, pregnancy yoga, took my husband to a session to be ‘trained-up’, collected affirmations on Pinterest, read all the advised books and even made a revision book of all my notes. I was totally zoned, empowered and believed that all women have the capability to birth. Then I ended up almost two weeks overdue, before going into natural labour. I got my waterbirth, felt in control, powerful, informed and that I could ride the waves of contractions without drugs. It all progressed great, the midwife said the baby would be out in the next half an hour. Until hours later I was able to recognise that it was not working, I was given an emergency c-section straight away. I am a petite size 6 and had a 9lb3oz baby, the baby was so stuck in my pelvis due to my determination to have a natural birth that I needed a J-incision (where they cut you up to your ribcage to get more room), in the panic an artery was cut, I lost a fifth of my blood and sugeon had my blood squirted all over her face, baby had to be resuscitated and they could not tell me if he was alive for a while, a baby with a very badly misshaped head from being stuck in my pelvis, and we both ended up on drips for a week due to infections from a long birth. The sugeon said it would have been physically impossible to fit that baby through my pelvis. So I’m not really sure if hypno-birthing helped or hinderd me. I actually felt calm and informed during it all but maybe my insistence for a natural birth was a little naive? Hypno-birthing is great in helping you to believe that you really can do it, but you must recognise that it will just not always be physically possible.xx

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