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The benefits of hypnobirthing or 'meditative labour'

Senior Midwife and Maternity Consultant, Kathy Fray, is an enthusiastic advocate for hypnobirthing or 'meditative labour' which can provide natural pain-relief via meditative practices.

"Hypnobirthing remains the most effective form of pain relief I have ever witnessed.

"It's mind-blowing to witness first-hand.

"And I've assisted hundreds of women in giving birth beautifully using hypnobirthing techniques.

"The awe never wanes of watching a woman in meditative labour during strong contractions," said Ms Fray.

Although her caseload has a higher-risk factor than average, Ms Fray said she is able to achieve an 85 per cent vaginal birth rate.

"It is all to do with the meditation reducing adrenaline so that oxytocin can dominate, which means the woman's cervix dilatates quicker and she births faster."
And though the literature on hypnobirthing can over-promote an anti-medicalisation stance, Ms Fray said the majority of hypnobirthing teachers are reasonable and logical.

"It is always a fragile balance between necessary and unnecessary intervention."

What is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing uses the philosophies and techniques of hypnotherapy to reduce fears and condition a woman's body to release endorphins during childbirth that act as natural pain relief.

Melissa Spilsted, Director of Hypnobirthing Australia, said hypnobirthing is simply a fancy word for a positive birth experience.

"Women have used their birthing knowledge for thousands of years, and what we teach … is simply tapping back into that wisdom and removing fear."

The difference between a regular birth and hypnobirthing is a sense of empowerment for the woman through the birth process and beyond, explained Ms Spilsted.

In a survey of pregnant women, over 99 per cent of respondents said they felt more prepared after hypnobirthing classes, said Ms Spilsted.

"Many caregivers describe hypnobirthing mothers as being calm and informed.

"Rather than arriving at the hospital unprepared and asking for caregivers to tell them what to do during birth, a mother who has attended a course has a toolkit of techniques to draw upon.

"This flows onto a more positive and satisfying birth experience, which then can lead to a more positive transition to parenthood.

"A metaphor I like to use is that our caregivers are the 'lifeguards at the beach', and we appreciate their presence, as they enable us to feel safe and supported. They will step in if we need help, but if all is well, we know that the birthing mother is the one who needs to do the swimming."

Kate Vivian, a mother of three, has experienced both regular antenatal classes and hypnobirthing training.

"My last two births were positive, empowering experiences.

"In contrast, my first birth left me feeling overwhelmed and guilty about the whole experience.

"Hypnobirthing made such a difference to how I approached my birth, how I prepared, and how I felt about the experience.

It also had a positive impact on my partner and how he approached his role in births.

"I'm now a Hypnobirthing Australia practitioner," said Ms Vivian.

What does Hypnobirthing Australia training involve?

Hypnobirthing Australia courses help pregnant woman and caregivers to understand the role hormones play in labour, birth and beyond, teaching evidence-based techniques including breathing, upright positioning, deep relaxation (self-hypnosis), acupressure, touch and visualisation.

"Parents build their knowledge about the physiology of birth, options for care and possible interventions that may be offered or suggested leading up to or on their birthing day.
"When parents build some prior knowledge, they feel empowered and can make more informed decisions.

"The combination of knowledge, evidence-based tools and support that mothers receive in preparation for their birth have been shown to positively affect birthing outcomes, optimise health and wellbeing and have been shown to have a positive impact on women's experience of childbirth," said Ms Spilsted.

Is hypnobirthing suitable for every woman?

Elements of hypnobirthing can benefit all pregnant woman regardless of circumstances, medical interventions or pain medication.

"Our standard course prepares mothers for a natural birth and also incorporates special circumstances.

"We have a Positive Caesarean Birth Course, which is suitable for those mothers who know that they need a Caesarean section for the safe delivery of their baby.

(In a Caesarean birth) "the mother and birth partner learn techniques, such as breathing, visualisation, touch, deep relaxation and self-hypnosis, to stay calm and reduce anxiety leading up to and during the birth.

"They see videos of beautiful, positive caesarean births and learn more about possible birth preferences, such as advantages of skin-to-skin, delaying the cord clamping and early breastfeeding dependent on their medical circumstances.

"This ensures they feel calm and empowered throughout the birth and are able to bond with their baby.

"This positive attitude to birth and the relaxation techniques learnt can assist them in breastfeeding, recovery and parenting," said Ms Spilsted.

How do you train to be a hypnobirthing midwife?

Hypnobirthing Australia™ Supportive Caregivers Course is available face-to-face in locations throughout Australia, and online. It is recognised for CPD points through the Australian College of Midwives. Further details can be found here.

Hypnobirthing Australia™ Practitioner Childbirth Educator training is available for those who want to teach the program. It is taught in private clinics, hospitals and independently in locations all over Australia. Click here for further information about the Practitioner Training: 

"It is very gratifying to teach this program and watch the transformation take place in the parents.

"Often, they arrive at classes full of fear, and I see them evolve to feeling empowered and excited about their upcoming birth.

"The course is also bonding for the parents and baby.

"But the best part, for me, is knowing that by teaching this program, I am making a positive impact on the world by promoting a positive, gentle and empowering birth.

"I may be biased, but I think I have the best job in the world," said Ms Spilsted.

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Haley Williams

Haley Williams has a Bachelor of Communication in Journalism and over a decade of experience in the media, marketing and communications industries.

She is a widely published journalist with a particular interest in writing magazine features on parenting, health, fitness, nutrition and education.

Before becoming a freelance journalist, Haley worked as a writer for NeoLife (a worldwide nutrition company), News Limited and APN News & Media.

Haley also has extensive experience as an SEO Content Writer and Digital Marketing Strategist.