But what are Hypnobirthing Anchors? How do they help with your Hypnobirthing practise? Does it matter how you use your anchorage? And can you create your own anchors?
Before we talk Hypnobirthing Anchors
Let’s just check we’re on the same wavelength.
Put VERY simply – childbirth is about your body getting your baby out. And it does this by producing hormones that makes your muscles move.
Your birth hormones (like Oxytocin & Endorphins) are calm, nurturing, Parasympathetic Nervous System hormones. You produce these hormones when you are calm & relaxed. They make you feel calm & relaxed. And wow do they make your birthing muscles move!
So yes. Giving birth should be pretty straight forward.
But with the continual bombardment of birth fear in mainstream media. And our inbuilt tendency to talk about the negative, rather than the positive. Most of us think that giving birth is a bit scary.
Hypnobirthing helps mummies & couples level this up. They become birth confident. Birth calm. And birth ready.
Hypnobirthing teaches you to utilise & support your Parasympathetic Nervous System. So your birthing hormones can flow. Your mind can focus on what you want. Meaning body & mind can work at their best.
And your hypnotic Hypnobirthing anchors? They flow all the way through your wonderful hypnobirth.
So what are Anchors?
A Hypnotic Anchor triggers a deep and automatic connection to a pleasant memory, feeling or sense of place. And they place a key role in Hypnotherapy.
Anchors are so automatic you may not even realise you are using one.
If I asked you to think of your pregnancy yoga class? Do you feel yourself relaxing as you imagine the room? Can you see the room? Hear the calming music? Smell the essential oils?
And talking about smell… Do you go a bit gooey when you notice your partner is wearing his or her favourite perfume? Does it take you back to when you first met? Can you imagine it now? Where you where? What drew you together? And that beautiful smell…again…?
So these anchors take our minds, emotions & senses off, to a very lovely – real or imagined place. To specific calm & relaxing feelings. They can add depth & detail to our perceptions. And in some cases a specific sensation.
Anchors can occur naturally but can also be created!
Hypnotherapists use anchors throughout their work and build tailor made anchors with each client. But as we’ve just seen, we can create Anchors from everyday things ourselves – without even meaning to! What this means is that before you even start your Hypnobirthing course – you will already have some natural Hypnobirthing anchors to use!
Anchors include our senses such as:
And the more of these senses you use the better. The stronger the association will be and the easier it will be to get there.
What are Hypnobirthing Anchors?
(Hypnobirthing anchors trigger a deep and automatic connection to a pleasant memory, feeling or sense of place.
So they are the same as the Hypnotic Anchors within Hypnotherapy! The only difference is that Hypnobirthing anchors are very specific to birth & your birthing body.
The most common Hypnobirthing Anchors:
- Hypnobirthing MP3 music
- Hypnobirthing teachers voice
- Your hypnotic ‘safe place’
- Hand stroking
- Hand on tummy
- Hand dropping
- Hand in ‘ice bucket’
- Walking into the sea
- Essential oils
- A low slow breath (or Up breath)
- Focused anchor words e.g. soften
- Deeper, repeated words or phrases within your Hypnobirthing scripts & MP3s e.g. calm, comfort, relax, confidence, all is well
Extra Hypnobirthing Anchors you may not have considered:
- Your Hypnobirthing MP3’s music
- Calm music you already listen to regularly
- Your partner’s voice
- Rectangular breathing or your pregnancy yoga breath
- The place where you practice Hypnobirthing relaxations
- The position in which you practice Hypnobirthing relaxations
- Room spray, essential oil or incense already in regular use (that are safe to use now that you’re pregnant!)
Are Hypnobirthing Anchors the same as Triggers?
Some Hypnobirthing books refer to Hypnobirthing Triggers rather than Anchors. So Hypnobirthing Trigger means Hypnobirthing Anchor. Perhaps they think Trigger is an easier word for us?
But as a Clinical Hypnotherapists who helps lift trauma – calling Anchors ‘Triggers’ is a pet hate.
If you’ve ever had birth trauma or been diagnosed with PTSD you’ll know that YES. Both Triggers & Anchors take your mind off to memorable places & feelings. But an Anchor takes you to a calm & relaxing hypnotic space and a Trigger takes you back to your trauma.
So I prefer not to use the phrase, but you must use whatever works best for you.
What do Hypnobirthing Anchors do?
We call it your Safe Place.
It’s that lovely place your mind imagines when you’re deeply relaxed listening to your hypnobirthing relaxations.So you might be using butterfly, magic carpet or rainbow relaxation. And surrounded by colourful butterflies or rainbows, perhaps holding your baby or you may be watching waves on a beach beach or in a beautiful garden.
And crucially you relax. Your brain waves change. Your body rests, relaxes & softens. And your breathing becomes slow & steady. Perhaps not much at first (that’s a subject for another blog!) but with regular hypnobirthing practice you drift deeply into calm relaxation.
The secret here is how you feel. The more you practice your relaxations (or Hypnobirthing MP3) the easier it will be to visualise your safe place and bring forward all those wonderful feelings you associate with it.
And it’s those feelings that matter most.
All the things you use or practice whilst truly relaxed will being strongly associated with those feelings. Whether you are using your Hypnobirthing MP3 or you’re pottering about, relaxing at home. Your anchors will help.
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Easy tips for deeper anchorage:
- Up Breathing – continue your usual practise of up breathing whilst think & visualising ‘Up’. But in addition – starting using the breath (and just the breath) whilst listening to your hypnobirthing MP3.
- Colour – if your anchor colour is in a separate hypnobirthing script (aka relaxation or MP3) start deepening your association of it by imagining it within your Safe Place as well. Get a blanket, cushion, scarf or soft toy that matches your anchor colour. You partner could even wear this colour in labour!
- Your Partner’s voice – you already associate his or her voice with trust & love! So asking them to record the Hypnobirthing relaxation MP3s can enhance the relaxing effect of them & even increase the sense of peace you have when your partner speaks!
- Calm music you already listen to – relaxing & familiar, this has a head start on your Hypnobirthing MP3 backing track. So use it as background music whilst your partner reads your Hypnobirthing scripts to you (use a lyric free version!)
- The place where you practice Hypnobirthing relaxations – This place will very quickly become a reassuring anchor so be flexible on where you practice your hypnobirthing relaxations. Variety is helpful. On a personal note, during my first pregnancy I only practiced hypnosis in my warm & cosy bed. During birth, I confidently relaxed into established labour snuggled in bed, but found myself unable to keep my hypnosis going whilst in the car or at the maternity unit (but had my baby in under a hour anyway).
- The position in which you practice Hypnobirthing relaxations – as above, variety in pregnancy will give you flexibility in labour. Bed at bedtime is easiest, but also practice on a birthing ball, on the sofa, even in the car (headphones on & NOT driving). And TBH, practice at different times of day! Whilst most women labour during the hours of darkness, there are always exceptions – and it might just be you!
- Smell – keep reading for the fascinating truth about smell!
Which is the easiest Anchor to use?
Essential oils (or rather smells) are the fastest & strongest anchor to develop.
Let’s think about this. Have you ever noticed how a smell can bring back an instant flurry of pleasant memories & feelings? Like the salty tang of sea air or coconut suncream taking your mind back to hot & sunny summer holidays, ice cream, dipping your toes in the sea and if you’re lucky, a tropical beach somewhere exotic? Or perhaps the smell of Jack Daniels taking yo back to university drink fests, ludicrous heels and re-meeting a kebab? (Along with that promise you’ll never touch it again!)
That’s because anchors (or ‘triggers’) take you to your hippocampus. Your brain’s memory centre. But smell? Smell anchors don’t take the usual route. Smell takes the short cut!
You see. Taste, touch, sight & sound are first sent to the brain’s processing centre – the thalamus. Then they are sent to their corresponding brain areas as well as the hippocampus & the amygdala.
But smell? Smell by-passes the thalamus and heads straight to it’s corresponding Olfactory as well as the amygdala and the anchor critical Hippocampus.
So essential oils are neurologically the fastest Hypnobirthing anchors to use!
But of all your Hypnobirthing practice? Why are essential oils so low on your pregnancy to-do list? Especially that what-ever-the birth, essential oils seem to be a standard offering amongst your midwives? And so many midwives are trained in Aromatherapy for birth?
So start your smell anchorage now. Use your essential oils routinely. Not just whilst listening to your Hypnobirthing MP3 relaxations. Start using them when you’re pottering about the house. Relaxing in the evenings. Taking a bath. On your sleep pillow. You can even put it on a hanky and have it to hand for an instant wave of calm.
Do you have to use all your Hypnobirthing Anchors?
No. Absolutely not. But your Hypnobirthing course recommends each bit of Hypnobirthing practise for a reason. So it’s worth giving everything a try – at least to begin with. After all. The more you have in your tool kit, the more options you have.
And you might be surprised by which Hypnobirthing anchors & techniques you are drawn to whilst giving birth! Even if something leaves you a bit cold now? You may find it’s your go-to technique during labour!
And what’s the most important thing to do?
Did you spot the clue right at the start? Yep! Getting started with all these anchors is the most important part. Our brains store our most emotive memories and delete all the boring stuff while we sleep. So natural anchors are easily created during wonderful, emotive moments – like meeting your other half (or your new baby!)
So because most of your Hypnobirthing anchors are new to you. And they don’t instantly have those wonderful natural emotions attached. They will take time to develop. So Hypnobirthing practice is essential!
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