Hypnobirth in the NHS

Hypnobirth is a way of thinking, an attitude, a philosophy.  It is also physical and mental preparation for birth.

Although birth can be described as a natural, instinctive process, western society has medicalised the concept of birth to a point where people feel less confident in their ability to give birth.

Whilst birth intervention rates have risen, there have not been any corresponding improvements in health outcomes. Caesarean rates have increased without any significant change in intrapartum-related perinatal mortality (CEMACH 2007).

Pregnant people and their birth supporters are increasingly looking for coping skills and antenatal education that offers a holistic package and more than traditional antenatal classes.

Birth today can be complex for some people. With an increase in complicated pregnancies it may seem that normality is declining. However most people prefer to avoid interventions, provided that their baby is safe and they feel they can cope (RCOG 2001).

The challenge for midwives is to facilitate best birth in sometimes difficult circumstances.  Normality can be achieved in any location and is an expectation and an attitude rather than an environment.

Hypnobirth offers techniques for any birth experience, including caesarean birth. It encourages everyone to remain relaxed and focused whatever path their birth takes. 

Hypnobirth requires commitment from parents, birth supporters and healthcare practitioners.  It demands an expectation of normality and a level of responsibility and accountability from parents and birth supporters.

Hypnobirth encourages couples to work in partnership. Birth supporters work with the midwife to maximise the birth environment, promote oxytocin and encourage active birth. The supporter will read scripts, use deepening techniques and be fully involved in the decision making. Having a midwife who can include supporting hypnobirth in her toolkit, is fantastic for couples and pregnant people who are on their own.

Hypnobirth practitioners are expected to:

  • Embrace the hypnobirth philosophy
  • Use hypnobirth language and integrate it into every day practice
  • Use scripts, deepening techniques and anchors in labour
  • Share easy and quick hypnobirth skills with non hypnobirth people
  • Remain current and up to date with guidelines and research
  • Support families to have the best possible birth experience – whatever that may be
  • Accept that midwives who support women in labour heavily influence the birth:

“the most important determinant of the outcome of a birth is the paradigm of the practitioner” (Davis-Floyd 2007)