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15th Sep 2021

What is Hypnobirthing? We asked Rotunda midwife Nadia Arthurs

orgasmic birth

Knowledge is power. That’s what I’ve learned from my chat with hypnobirthing midwife Nadia Arthurs.

When the term hypnobirthing is used it conjures up images of magicians waving pocket watches in front of your eyes, but the reality couldn’t be farther from it.

I’ve had two children, but I have never tried hypnobirthing and I know I’m not the only one curious about this technique and whether it really works.

I spoke to Rotunda midwife and hypnobirthing instructor Nadia Arthurs to find out more.

So first things first, does it stop the pain?

Nadia says, absolutely!

“I’ve had so many women say to me that the experience was intense or powerful but they don’t describe it as pain. It’s different for everyone of course and some have said they have felt some pain, but only pain equivalent to stubbing your toe.”

Stubbing your toe? Really? I’m regretting not trying it myself now.

My first and second birthing experiences were completely different from each other and while I could imagine using hypnobirthing on my second labour which was straight forward, could a mum undergoing a section make use of this technique?

“It’s important to keep an open mind. A lot of women who have come through my classes are VBAC and some of them have had very traumatic previous birthing experiences. Hypnobirthing can help them become more calm and more confident whatever path their birth takes. The most important thing is to create a positive birthing experience.

One woman had had a bad experience first time. She needed a section but the epi didn’t work so she had to be given local anesthetic and it traumatised her. She really wanted a VBAC but in the end her second birth turned out like her first. When I went to visit her tough she was beaming. All she could say was ‘He’s here’. She had done her hypnobirthing steps until she had to go under and it create a positive experience for her.

We never know what’s going to happen in labour. One important thing to remember is you can’t control the situation but you can control your reaction.”

Women attending the Rotunda hospital can take hypnobirthing classes with Nadia, where they can develop the skills to help them power through labour. Having never taken these classes myself, I wondered what advice Nadia would give an expectant mum thinking of signing up for the course.

“It’s important to have your birth partner whether it’s your husband, mum or a friend, help you with it. It means they will know how to help you during labour.

I was on the labour ward and another midwife said to me there was a woman who had been doing well but she was losing it and starting to have a tough time. I went in to her and asked her husband what her mantra was.

I can’t remember exactly but I think it was ‘my baby is made for my body’

I began to repeat this to her and rub her feet. She calmed down and the next thing I knew she opened her legs and the head was visible. I called to her midwife who came in and managed to catch the baby.”

I’ve often heard of second births going this quickly, I know that was the case with mine, but rarely have I heard a story like this about a first time mum.

Can keeping calm really make your labour, first or otherwise, go this smoothly and if so then why don’t more mums use the hypnobirthing technique during childbirth?

“I suppose there’s a misconception that it’s a bit hippie-ish or that it really is hypnosis.

Really hypnobirthing is a coping strategy that informs women in a lot of ways to think positive. It helps the mum remain calm.

Fear creates tension in the body and can make birthing more difficult. Muscle remembers and generally speaking second time mums usually have more confidence in their body’s ability to deliver their baby.

In my experience the first birth is an endurance test, the second time it’s fast and furious.

I helped through one birth and the woman said to me ‘Nadia it is pain’. I told her it was ok and that she could have whatever she needed but she never asked for the epidural. We read through her script, she used the gas twice and twenty minutes later her baby was born. It was her first baby.

Afterwards when I saw her she said ‘It wasn’t painful’
‘You said there was pain’
‘There was when I said it but once I calmed down there wasn’t’
It really is a case of mind over matter.”

Talking to Nadia really made me wish that I had known about hypnobirthing last year during my pregnancy and completely changed my idea of what hypnobirthing really is.

The main thing I took from our chat is that knowledge is power and the more a woman knows and is prepared for before she goes into labour, the calmer she’ll be and the more positive the experience will be.

I would agree with this line of thinking, as I felt much more sure of myself and my body the second time around, than I did on my first birth.

Nadia’s hypnobirthing classes take place on Tuesday evenings via Zoom and costs €225 for the course.