What has hypnobirthing got to do with sports and fitness?
Penny Boylan runs Bright Beginnings Hypnobirthing based in Rickmansworth. She specialises in helping first time parents achieve positive, calm and gentle births.
If you’re reading this blog post then there’s a good chance you’re doing all you can to keep your body fit and healthy during pregnancy. But what about your mind? Exercising during pregnancy is one of the best things you can do to prepare your body for labour. Did you know you can also prepare mentally? The most effective way to prepare mentally for your birth is by practicing hypnobirthing.
What is hypnobirthing?
In a nutshell, hypnobirthing works on the premise that women suffer pain during labour due to all the fears and negativity they have about birth. These fears cause tension in the body, including the muscles of the uterus, and it’s this tension that causes us to feel pain. So what hypnobirthing does is it helps you release all your negative thoughts and fears about birth. It then replaces them with confidence in your body’s ability to birth your baby. It also teaches you lots of relaxation and breathing techniques that will help you stay relaxed and calm during labour. When you are calm and relaxed your uterus muscles are working efficiently and smoothly rather than fighting against each other. This has two positive effects, it means your labour will be more comfortable and will take less time!
You might find this surprising but there are a lot of similarities between hypnobirthing and sports and fitness.
Lots of women who do hypnobirthing liken the sensations of giving birth to the sensations of pushing yourself hard at the gym. You’re really pushing your body to its extremes and are feeling uncomfortable but the pain that you do feel is bearable. As long as you stay in the zone you can ride it out. Labour is experienced in the same way when you practice hypnobirthing.
Getting in the zone
One of the things we teach is that conversation should be kept to a minimum during labour. It stimulates the neocortex and stops a labouring woman from getting into her relaxed zone. Many people I’ve taught liken this to when you’re working out and pushing yourself hard but someone keeps talking to you and gets you out of your zone. It can really ruin your workout which is a bummer but if the same was happening for your birth it’s much more than just a bummer! Your body will start producing adrenaline (which inhibits oxytocin) and this has the effect of slowing down your labour.
One of the ways hypnobirthing helps women think positively about their birth is by the use of positive birth affirmations. You listen to these every day during your pregnancy and by doing this you re-frame the way you think about birth. The way you think about things has a direct impact on how you experience them. One of the greatest sportsmen of our time is famous for his use of affirmations, so much so that his became his catchphrase! I’m talking of course about Muhammad Ali and his affirmation/catchphrase “I am the greatest!” It definitely worked for him and positive affirmations definitely work for childbirth too.
All top athletes and sports people use positive visualisations to help them achieve their dreams of winning. We do the same thing in hypnobirthing. We use visualisations in several ways. One of the ways I use visualisations is to ask my clients to visualise and concentrate on the birth they want. So many people spend so much time concentrating on what they don’t want and are then upset when that’s what they get. Concentrate on and visualise the birth you want as that’s what you’re more likely to get, where the mind leads the body follows. I’m sure Usain Bolt has never visualised himself coming second in a race!
Hypnobirthing teachers are like the sports psychologists of the birthing world. We teach you to have belief in yourself that you can do it! Just as sports psychologists do we work on your mindset. Sports men and women use a sports psychologist to condition themselves to believe that they will win. We condition pregnant women to believe that they can give birth naturally and easily. Both are about using the power of your mind to help your body perform at it’s best.
I’m sure you’ve probably heard the comparison of giving birth to running a marathon. Both are really tough physical feats where you’re pushing your body to its extremes. You wouldn’t run a marathon without first preparing your body and mind so it makes sense to do the same when you’re about to give birth.
If you’d like to know more about hypnobirthing or want to book a class I’d love to hear from you. Visit www.bbhypnobirthing.co.uk or drop me an email email@example.com
I teach monthly group classes in Rickmansworth and private courses throughout Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Middlesex. You can find details of my next courses (including my monthly free taster classes) here www.bbhypnobirthing.co.uk/classes