Here are a few answers to some of the questions I am asked quite regularly. If there is anything else you would like to know that isn't answered here, please get in touch.
When should I take a hypnobirthing course?
There is no right or wrong answer to this. Most of the parents I teach undertake a course when they are between 25 - 32 weeks pregnant. This allows plenty of time for the learning to consolidate. That said, I have also taught families just a few weeks before their babies are due and the course still makes a big difference.
I've already signed up for an NCT or Bump and Baby Club course; should I do hypnobirthing as well?
Both NCT and Bump and Baby Club offer a syllabus that covers pregnancy, birth and parenting. The benefit of these courses is that you are likely to meet other families who live in your area and who are due around the same time as you. The hypnobirthing course offers a complete antenatal education so there is no need to take an additional course (though many of the people I teach also attend NCT or Bump and Baby Club classes). That said, if you have already signed up for another course, I still highly recommend taking a hypnobirthing course. It provides lots of strategies, information and relaxation techniques that aren't covered elsewhere. Though you may find that some content is repeated, you will definitely learn a huge amount on top of the more traditional antenatal class structure.
Will I get to know the other course participants?
Unlike NCT or Bump and Baby Club courses, the focus is not on making friends - however, this definitely happens regardless! I feel really strongly that hypnobirthing is about the pregnant woman and her birth partner connecting, talking in depth together and figuring out how they can best apply what they are learning to their own, unique circumstances. Most of the exercises, therefore, are done as a couple. But there is still plenty of time for group discussion and getting to know the other participants! Many of my past clients have gone on to become firm friends: often the people who choose to take a hypnobirthing course will find that they have a lot in common.
How is the course structured?
Each course consists of five sessions; four evening sessions for you and your birth partner and one morning session for just you and the other pregnant women. The course is spread across four weeks in total and adds up to 12 hours of contact time. I find that this arrangement allows the information to settle in between classes and gives you the opportunity to think through the material and formulate your own questions.
Where do the classes take place?
The evening sessions take place at a venue in Hampstead or West Hampstead and the morning session takes place at my home (in West Hampstead).
Is it all just a bit hippy-dippy?
I think this is the biggest misconception around hypnobirthing. Though the name may sound quite alternative, what you will discover when you take a course is that the approach is rooted in science and evidence. The aim of the sessions is to empower you and your birth partner to seek out reliable, research-based information so you can make the right choices for your individual birth. The course provides a great deal of education around physiology and anatomy so that you understand how your body works during labour and how to best facilitate birth. Finally, the "hypno" part of it simply refers to techniques that enable you to access a state of deep relaxation in which your body lets go of tension and is able to work efficiently and effectively.
Will I get a pain-free, drug-free birth?
It's impossible to guarantee the outcome of birth. I would never make the assertion that your birth will turn out a particular way. And, actually, that isn't really what hypnobirthing is about. It's about instilling a sense of confidence, clarity and positivity in the birthing woman and her partner. I want you to recognise that birth is something to be celebrated and looked forward to, no matter how your baby chooses to enter the world. Sometimes births take a different turn or special circumstances arise. Sometimes mums and babies need a little extra help. My hope is that the hypnobirthing course will give you the confidence to seek out the kind of birth that is right for you, your baby and your body.
So, do I just attend the classes? Is that all it takes?
This is perhaps the most important point to make: hypnobirthing requires commitment. The in-person classes are hugely important and you will learn a great deal but the main investment comes afterwards: I will ask you to practice the techniques, listen to the relaxation tracks and read and re-read the hypnobirthing book and other class handouts. I often compare hypnobirthing to training for a marathon or other feat of stamina and endurance. We would never try to run a marathon without having trained. We know how important it is to get our body and our mind ready for the undertaking. And we know we'll be better prepared, fitter and more excited if we do the preliminary work. It's the same for giving birth.