Why Kate is right to try hypnotherapy for a natural birth

Baby in bathThe royal baby is due anytime now and rumours have abounded in the press that Kate is using hypnotherapy to prepare for the birth.

I think this is fantastic and if the Kate effect influences more mothers-to-be to try this gentle technique then the world of birthing will be a better one.

I remember in the late stages of my second pregnancy my midwife started to get twitchy about me having a homebirth.  We discovered from my hospital notes that I’d lost a litre of blood during my first birth and she wanted me to discuss my choice with someone more senior.

A meeting was arranged with a consultant at the local hospital.  He was not prepared to discuss my views or consider any of the research I’d brought with me, but instead told me that I was risking my life and that of my child and that I should consider my responsibilities as a mother.

He was blunt and unwavering, batting my researched arguments away as though they were pesky flies.

I drove home in tears and was so upset I couldn’t eat or sleep.  Instead I did what I’d done every day of this pregnancy: I lay down in a dark room and switched on the stereo.

Just like Kate is rumoured to be, I too was preparing for my birth with hypnotherapy.

There are two types of birth hypnotherapy: Hypnobirthing, the US version that was developed by Marie Mongan and Natal Hypnotherapy, the UK version, developed by Maggie Howell, which I was using.

It had started off with a pregnancy relaxation cd when I was just five weeks pregnant.  As I became more relaxed and confident I decided on a homebirth and ordered the Home Birth Preparation cd.

Like Kate, my baby was due in mid-July and as I listened to the gentle words every day I was transported to a soothing place.  Every page of my diary from that time reads “Listened to cd.  Feeling rested” (or some other similar adjective).

There’s no magic to it. It’s just the voice of the practitioner – in this case Maggie Howell – talking the listener into a hypnotic state a bit like a day dream.  She instils positive messages about pregnancy and birth and every time – if I hadn’t fallen asleep – I would rouse at the end feeling energised and happy and excited about the birth.

It tapped into a deep intuitive part of my consciousness, so that even when the consultant upset my equilibrium I was able to regain my calmness – although on that occasion I had to listen to my cd several times – and a conviction in my ability to make decisions.

I reviewed my case notes with matrons, midwives and supervisors and was fortunate to have a very calm, very natural water birth at home.

I can’t help but think that Kate, who has faced more scrutiny in her pregnancy than most women, will have benefited enormously if she has been listening to cds like these. I hope she has.

There are no guarantees in birth.  Nature will take its course.  But if Kate can maintain the composure she has shown during the last eight months she is enhancing her chances of the natural birth she seems so keen to achieve.

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