If it’s good enough for the Duchess…

Duchess of Cambridge, Do It Like A MotherMidwives at the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital, London, where the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to her three children were trained in hypnobirthing ahead of the newest prince’s arrival.

This decision comes almost two years after expectant parents in North Essex were the first to be offered hypnobirthing courses on the NHS. Indeed Colchester Hospital has the highest number of hypnobirth teachers in the UK and TOWIE stars including Sam and Billie Faiers are among the celebs to have attended hypnobirthing classes.

Here Keri Jarvis, who runs Essex’s Do it Like a Mother Hypnobirthing (www.doitlikeamother.co.uk) chats to me about it…

FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVEN’T HEARD OF IT, HOW WOULD EXPLAIN WHAT HYPNOBIRTHING IS?

I’d say it’s not what you are probably imagining! First impressions aren’t great with a name like that. I’ve had clients asked whether both themselves and their partners would “go under” for their labours, people assuming it would be a silent birth, that you’re not allowed drugs or to go to hospital… all sorts. There is quite a spectrum of ideals across different methods and providers, to sum up, it’s an approach to antenatal education that’s focused on eliminating fear, and therefore tension, and so reducing pain in labour.

HOW DOES A HYPNOBIRTH HELP MOTHERS IN LABOUR?

So it all starts in pregnancy – spending time shifting her perspective and rewriting what she “knows” about birth. If you’ve ever had a baby, you’ll know that your bump acts as a magnet for birth horror stories, this has got to stop, as has One Born Every Minute.

In labour itself, the techniques we teach allow the mother to get into a state of relaxation on demand. I’ve really got to shout from the rooftops here that it’s about so much more than pain relief. It frustrates me when women think they can’t benefit from hypnobirthing because they want all the drugs – making an informed choice to take everything on offer is totally valid, but the stuff we teach isn’t simply an alternative to medical pain relief.

It’s a whole philosophy of birth, a new (for most women) perspective on offer that says, you are strong, you are basically some sort of God – you’re creating new life and you ought to be demanding to be treated accordingly. It’s well known that the way a woman feels about her labour and birth is not defined by what actually happened, but her part within it. If she was autonomous over her body, respected, and really well informed, even very high intervention births can be rated as extremely positive by the mother. That’s what we want. We don’t care how you want do it, we want you to know that you rock, regardless. It takes work to be confident in that assertion in a society that tells women so much oppressive rubbish about their bodies and their births.

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE HYPNOBIRTHING WORLD?

I came across hypnobirthing five years ago when I was pregnant with my first baby. My two big fears were an epidural (just the thought of it made me feel like passing out), and that loss of control. At the time, it was incredibly liberating to believe that birth could be pain free, and the things we learned made complete sense to us – it was like a penny had dropped. I knew I couldn’t leave it behind though. I had to explore it further and be involved in it. I trained to teach hypnobirthing when Louis was six months old, and over the last four years I’ve evolved our approach continuously.

DO YOU THINK THE DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE POTENTIALLY HAVING A HYPNOBIRTH WILL HELP MAKE IT MORE MAINSTREAM?

When George and Charlotte were born, I’m sure there were rumours of hypnobirthing, and anything that gets it in front of people and begins to normalise the word is helpful. I don’t see her posting her birth video on YouTube, so we’ll have to be satisfied with the speculation!

This feature was also published in the May issue of Essex Living magazine – out now.

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