Hypnobirthing is calm but not as you know it.
How calm can give you your voice.
By Sophie Fletcher
Author of Mindful Hypnobirthing Instagram @mindfulmammauk
You’re about to give birth. How do you think you are going to be? Quiet, noisy? What would you prefer? To be calm on the inside but noisy on the outside, or calm on the outside but noisy on the inside? Or perhaps you want to be both.
Birth is a primal event, it’s instinctive and powerful and sometimes unpredictable. And each one is totally unique. You may find you are quiet, but on the day you may feel you need to make noise and that is ok. In fact, both are completely normal when they are instinctive.
As a hypnobirthing teacher and doula with over 10 years experience I have seen a lot of hypnobirthers. I have seen quiet hypnobirthers, so quiet, that midwives didn’t know they were in labour, and I have seen noisy hypnobirthers, so noisy that I could hear the midwives whispering “she’s not really hypnobirthing is she?”.
Well, breaking news she is hypnobirthing. She is vocal and active because that’s a normal instinctive birth behaviour. What she isn’t is frightened, anxious or afraid of what people might think when she roars. She may not look calm on the outside but she is in a great space internally.
True, calm may look quiet, but sometimes it looks strong and primal and noisy. Internal calm is the very antithesis of quiet – it is a woman who knows she has a voice. She is prepared, a woman who knows deep down that she can do this, whatever happens.
Calmness it’s an inner state of mind. It’s a place where you are present, aware, connected. A state of mind in which you can make decisions from a place of strength rather than fear. It enables women to slow down, consider and reflect, to step away from kneejerk decision making that can so often lead to regret or loss of power.
Research is beginning show how anxiety can interfere with choice-making cells in the pre-frontal cortex, the part of our brain associated with high order thinking. When anxious or desperate, we eagerly accept and apply advice, good or bad, we are less discriminating. When you are calm internally you can make informed choices because you understand consent and can find the time and space to make the right choices for you.
Calmness is also about the external environment you choose to birth in, reducing interruptions, thinking about the things you can see, feel or hear. Hypnobirthing helps you understand the unconscious processes that go on every moment of our loves, the constant interaction between the unconscious and environment. They give you the ability to learn how to manage your own space, and to organise it in your own unique way of ‘calm’. It encourages you to explore that aspect of yourself, and to take make the birth space your own. To be comfortable with moving things around, rather than thinking “am I allowed to move the bed”.
If you are birth partner, you may “trying to be calm” on the outside for your partner but internally be in turmoil. You may also project your own anxieties and fears onto your partner. Your assumptions about the noises she makes, may be based on your own learned expectations of birth, and tap into your need to ‘rescue her’. Instead, mindfulness based approaches can teach you to be observant of your own feelings, to be comfortable with your own discomfort. As a partner you will learn techniques to keep the birth space free of your own anxieties and to be a responsive but not reactive birth partner.
By learning certain aspects of your own behaviour and by understanding birth, as a birthing partner, external calmness can be a genuine reflection of your internal state and an acceptance of her experience. Your partner will know and feel this deeply.
For all those of you about to birth, know this – calm can be internal, it can be external. Calm can be quiet, it can be noisy but most of all it is powerful and it is strong. Calm creates the space for the energy of birth to roll through, and for you to feel in control of letting go free of inhibition, free of fear and connected with the deepest part of yourself.