Charlotte Pearson finds out more about hypnobirthing.
Giving birth is one of the most natural things a woman can do, but for many the thought can instil fear and anxiety.
“There are so many negative stories out there on TV and in the media,” explains Joanna Fitzsimons, a practising midwife, hypnobirthing instructor and antenatal educator.
“While a lot of people find that friends and family are always on hand to tell horror stories.
“But I want women to realise that it can be a positive experience, even if it doesn’t quite go the way you planned it.”
Joanna qualified in adult nursing in 1996 and worked in gynaecology which prompted her to train as a midwife in 1999.
As well as being a Wise Hippo instructor Joanna also works as a community midwife and is the lead midwife for women expecting multiples in Brighton.
Two years ago she learnt about hypnobirthing and looked at what programmes were available.
“Wise Hippo was just something that sat well with me and I agreed with its practises,” she reveals. “As I was already a trained midwife I just had to do a module in hypnotherapy.”
Wise Hippo hypnobirthing teaches women about the physiology of giving birth, hypnosis, how to train your subconscious, and looks at how your environment can impact on the birth.
“Sometimes women who do different types of hypnobirthing feel disappointed as they think it will make the birth pain free, but sometimes things don’t go quite to plan and it is being ok with that and feeling positive about the birthing experience,” explains Joanna.
The four sessions take place over four weeks and each one is between two and half hours to three hours.
“The programme has enhanced my own way of working as a midwife,” explains Joanna.
“Some midwives say they don’t know how to work with someone who is having a hypnobirth, but it is the same as any other birth. You work through their needs and their expectations.
“They just need a quiet space where they can get into their relaxation place.”
But it seems people have misconceptions about hypnobirthing.
“People think it is all hippie or like Derren Brown that you lose control and are made to do things,” she says. “But it isn’t like that at all.
“In fact what we do is make people go into a trance like state.
“A bit like when you daydream, this trance is a place where you can find relaxation.
“So that when you are in labour you can go back to that place and be calm.
“It is about empowering women to have a positive birthing experience,” she enthuses.
“They are in control and if it doesn’t go to plan they are still in control and have a choice on how it will work out.
“Giving birth is a natural thing and we advise women to trust their instincts and train their subconscious.”
Based in Balcombe, Joanna sees a mix of first time mothers not sure what to expect and those who may have had a bad experience.
“When we are scared adrenaline gets pumping through our body,” she reveals. “This means that our body tenses up, which isn’t ideal when going into labour as you want to be as relaxed as you can.
“The breathing techniques we teach help with this and make women feel more relaxed.”
Covering both East and West Sussex, Joanna offers both individual and group classes and once the four sessions are done Joanna is on hand to provide further support via email and phone.
“I had a mother who was really nervous and anxious after giving birth but after the second session something changed,” she explains. “She recently had a really positive birth which was great.”
Joanna advises that women should visit her the earlier the better from about 24 weeks.
“I have had women who come to me at 30 weeks,” she adds. “Anything after 36 makes it a lot harder to train your subconscious and doesn’t give you much time to prepare for the birth.”
She is also currently undertaking training for Wise Hippo’s bond with baby class, which is ideally attended between 16 and 26 weeks but is beneficial to parents and baby at any point in pregnancy.
“It looks at how your emotions and feelings can impact on the baby,” explains Joanna. “And looks at a number of different ways you and others close to you can enjoy interacting with your baby.”
Something which is then carried on after the baby is born.
At its heart hypnobirthing is about starting motherhood empowered and positive and not put off to try again, which can only be a good thing.
Group courses consist of four couples and runs for four weeks. It costs £250 and you get support after and a workbook as well as five MP3s. For one to one sessions it costs £395.
For more information, visit www.thewisehipposussex.co.uk
September 9, 2015 Travel and Lifestyle