1 in 3: Three Ways Hypnobirthing Can Help You Address Your Anxieties During Pregnancy and Beyond

Did you know that according to a recent study that as many as 1 in 3 birthing people experience anxiety during pregnancy? But, it doesn’t stop there. This study also showed that 1 in 3 birthing people who experience anxiety during pregnancy will go on to continue to experience anxiety during the postpartum period. Anxiety also has rippling effects. Anxiety and unresolved stress during pregnancy can lead to not only mental health issues but also potential risks to your child. As this study notes, similar studies have shown that increased anxiety and prolonged stress are linked to problems related to fetal heart rate, motor activity, preterm delivery, and even infant behavior. Also, postpartum anxiety has been linked to lower gestational parent self-confidence and delayed mental development in children. [1]

However, this is not to suggest that we, as parents, have to be completely zen throughout our pregnancies to have a healthy pregnancy and well-adjusted child. In my own mental health and pregnancy journey, which I discussed in an earlier post, I was able to find ways of navigating my own mental health challenges to foster a happy and healthy family life. So, our ability to overcome stress and anxiety actually builds our and our child’s resilience. But, this does suggest that we do not want stress and anxieties to get the best of us. So, if you are dealing with the general anxieties and stresses of pregnancy, then hypnobirthing can be a great additional resource in your pregnancy and postpartum tool kit. However, please note that if you are dealing with a debilitating level of stress that impacts your ability to function and do everyday tasks, please consult a medical professional. 

What is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing, while it might sound strange, is actually not anything out of the ordinary, and it absolutely does not involve mind control. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis, meaning that you can only be influenced by the narratives and scripts to which you are already receptive. Hypnosis is really a state of mind we enter frequently throughout our day. Any time we do something where we have a narrowed focus of attention (e.g., driving a car down a route you’ve driven several times, daydreaming, etc.) we are in a hypnotic state. So, hypnobirthing is a self-directed practice and technique of deep relaxation that in combination with the use of affirmations, breathing techniques, and visualization empowers you to flow with rather than against the natural abilities and instinct of your body during labor and far beyond.

But, how can hypnobirthing help you?  

Build Your Confidence 

The best gift I can give my clients is a sense of self-confidence. A recent 2017 study found that a lack of self-confidence is a major factor in both postpartum mental health and infant development. This study also recommended programs specifically targeted at reducing postpartum anxiety and increasing self-confidence. [2] However, within the hypnobirthing community, we believe that building self-confidence must begin before birth. When we are mentally and emotionally equipped during pregnancy, we also have the tools we need to navigate the transition into parenthood. Even if this isn’t your first child, the birth of each new child can bring new anxieties, uncertainties, and even fears. Building self-confidence, therefore, requires: 1) offering education so that clients can learn to self-advocate and, 2) centering the use of affirmations and affirming tools for mental wellbeing that build on their ability to navigate the surges of not only labor but also life. 

Education + Affirmations = Self-Confidence

So, in a hypnobirthing course, you will learn not only about how labor works and how the body works during labor, but also about how your mind is a powerful mechanism for having a more calm and confident birthing experience. You will also learn several mental tools, including the use of affirmations, breathing techniques, and visualization, to help you build your resilience and your sense of confidence. 

I’m fully committed to supporting all clients in having their best birth, but hypnobirthing isn’t about having a “perfect” birth experience. Rather, it is about having the tools we need to confidently navigate birth and beyond, whether that includes an abdominal birth, a non-medicated vaginal birth, or a vaginal birth supported by hospital-administered pain management.

Rewire Your Internal Scripts

The mental tools and techniques you will learn and practice are meant to help you rewire any internal mental scripts that are no longer serving you. Our minds are powerful and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, about birth, and about being a parent can strongly influence our experience of these situations. For example, you may want a calm and confident birthing experience, but subconsciously, perhaps due to movies you have watched or negative birth stories you have heard, you may actually associate labor with pain and suffering. Thus, through positive suggestion, we slowly work to change these underlying beliefs. Changing these internal narratives is not easy. However, if you want to have more affirming beliefs about pregnancy, labor, and even parenthood, then with practice, we can alter any beliefs that are no longer serving you. 

Affirm the Experience You Want

The most powerful thing we can do for ourselves is affirm the experience we actually want. We often spend a lot of time worrying and imagining all the things that could go wrong in a particular situation. But, how much time do we spend imagining and affirming all the things that could go right? While we cannot physically practice birth, affirmations are powerful tools for mentally preparing for the birth we want. Affirmations are simply phrases that we can repeat to remind ourselves on a conscious level of the birth experience we want to craft. In a course, some of the powerful affirmations you may encounter include:

I look forward to meeting my baby with calmness and joy.

I trust myself and my inner wisdom.

I am preparing for the birth of a calm baby and a confident mother.

You can also create your own personalized affirmations. Simply start with “I will..,” “I have…,” “I am…” or “I want…” and add an affirming statement. Then write your statement on a post-it note and put it where you can regularly see it and be reminded. Or, record yourself saying your affirmations so you can listen to them in the morning or in the car on the way to work. This might seem strange at first but think of this as mental preparation. You generally wouldn’t take a major exam without preparing and yet expect it to go well, so think of this as studying and preparation for the birth you want. The more emotionally and mentally comfortable you are with birth and labor, the more calm and confident you will be when the day of labor and the birth of your baby arrives. 

And, if this resonates with you and you want support in crafting a more calm and confident birth experience and beyond, get in touch with me here. I look forward to connecting and supporting you in crafting your best birth and far beyond. 

[1] Nakić Radoš S, Tadinac M, Herman R. Anxiety During Pregnancy and Postpartum: Course, Predictors and Comorbidity with Postpartum Depression. Acta Clin Croat. 2018 Mar;57(1):39-51. doi: 10.20471/acc.2017.56.04.05. PMID: 30256010; PMCID: PMC6400346. [PubMed]

[2] Matthies LM, Wallwiener S, Müller M, Doster A, Plewniok K, Feller S, Sohn C, Wallwiener M, Reck C. Maternal self-confidence during the first four months postpartum and its association with anxiety and early infant regulatory problems. Infant Behav Dev. 2017 Nov;49: 228-237. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2017.09.011. Epub 2017 Oct 5. PMID: 28987983. [PubMed]

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