Having just spent the weekend with some fab trainee practitioners and a lovely group of expectant couples it has really reminded me just how special and truly amazing the course is. I have been teaching and developing Natal Hypnotherapy for 14 years and even though I passionately believe in everything that I teach, I sometimes forget what it was like to be an expectant mother who is looking for support, reassurance and truly effective guidance which leaves them fully prepared rather than scared of giving birth. It is 15 years since I felt like that myself and at the time I did not get the kind of reassurance and positivity that I desperately needed. It was only when I discovered how to use this concept of hypnosis, followed up by my own reading and research, that I realised what I really needed was already within me – it was just hidden under this heavy blanket of cerebral information laced with tinges of fear and anxiety!.
Since then I have learnt so much about how the mind and the body works and so much about how women’s fear impacts their thoughts, emotions, their reactions and the physical functions within her body. Knowing how incredibly detrimental this fear can to the birthing process, it makes me so sad and angry that we as a society have somehow allowed so much fear to creep in, in fact in many ways we have encouraged this to happen.
And yet given the right information, the right support, really positive, effective and simple tools and techniques and ultimately the confidence to trust their body, all women and their partners can dramatically reduce this fear and anxiety. This in turn massively increases their confidence and ability to work with the body to allow it to do what it was naturally designed to do. And what is even better news is that all this can be achieved in such a short period of time. Having spent these two days with these wonderful couples, it has been a privilege to be part of their journey watching as their fears begin to dissipate, their trust begins to increase and their confidence in themselves and each other grow stronger and stronger.
And yet none of this is rocket science – all of this is done using plain, down to earth language by rekindling a connection back with the absolute basics of mammalstic birth, connecting back with the power of breathing, experiencing the sensation of deep relaxation and bit by bit, building up their confidence and belief in their innate power and ability to trust their body, accept the sensations within in their body and so give ultimately flow through the process of giving birth.
The way the Natal Hypnotherapy course has developed and progressed over the last 10 years has ensured that the teaching style appeals to all learning types, that so many of the techniques we teach are personalised so that each couple really owns and connects with the tools, from writing their own hypnotic suggestions, visualisations, affirmations, to creating their own personalised birth preparation plan. And this starts before they have even walked through the door, as each of them complete a detailed questionnaire prior to attending the course so that the practitioners are able to address their specific concerns and needs during the two days.
I feel particularly proud about the way the course helps the birth partners. I have always felt strongly that men are often thrown into the birthing room a bit like the gladiators to the lions. They are expected to be there and they are expected to know how to support their partners and yet without a true understanding of the basics of birth physiology and emotions especially anxiety and fear, it is so hard for man to support his partner effectively. The course is so geared towards helping men understand the impact that fear and anxiety can have on the birthing process, so by knowing why this happens, the signs to look out for and most importantly, effective ways to easily help her overcome them and return to a relaxed state he is far more able to provide the kind of support that will really help her. It is always such a joy to see the lightbulb moments when fathers really see and experience how effective their support is going to be on the big day. One of the best moments of the course is towards the end when mothers write up all the things they would like the fathers to do to support them and the fathers right up all the things they are going to do to support her. And what is so lovely is that they now realise they are both singing from the same hymn sheet and they both have such confidence in each other.
Unlike most other antenatal courses, the underlying message and teaching centres around the emotional map of labour – understanding this enables both the mother and father to understand the different stages, trust that it is all normal, recognise key signs and use the techniques to overcome the inevitable blips and challenges along the way.
I know it is not the done thing to blow your own trumpet, but sometimes it’s good to sit back and really appreciate what you have achieved. I know that the course, the materials and content that I’ve developed alongside the amazing practitioners who have helped teach me along the way, has helped so many thousands of couples. And yet none of this is rocket science, there is no magic formula, there is no magic key – this is just about helping couples to get rid of the fear that has been installed in us through society, media and dare I say it, the medical model of giving birth, and replacing that with a strong belief, trust and confidence in what is inherently one of the most natural events in a woman’s. It does not make any grand promises, it is grounded very much in reality as the couples come away knowing that birth can be unpredictable, birth can be tough, birth can be awesome, but also knowing that no matter what happens, no matter where their Birth takes them, they have effective tools and techniques to help them stay calm, in control of their reactions and congruency with any decisions that they need to make.
How different birth in the NHS would be if all couples had access to this kind of antenatal course.
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