What do I need to practice for Hypnobirthing?

Steph McGee

I’m a Trauma Informed Clinical Hypnotherapist on a mission to help. Hypnosis feels like a magic wand. But in truth? The real magic is you.

If hypnobirthing sounds like the answer to all your prayers?

That’s because it is!

But it can be overwhelming when hypnobirthing practice feels like the biggest to-do-list of your life.

Maybe you don’t even know where to start?

Now you’re swamped with more breathing techniques & hypnobirthing tips than you can shake a stick at….

And at the back of your mind you’re wondering if you’ve missed the biggest thing in Hypnobirthing?

So grab a pen or save this post on Pinterest.

And consider this your Hypnobirthing Practice to-do list.

Then drop me a message if you have any questions!

What do I need to practice for hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing is as simple as baking a cake bake. Maybe you’re a natural or maybe you need instructions or a teacher to support you all the way.

But either way? You need the basic ingredients or your hypnobirthing will flop! And if you want something really special, there are beautiful extras to add… depending on how delicious you want to make your hypnobirthing!

And just like cake, whether simple or special?

HYPNOBIRTHING IS ALWAYS GOOD

So in this guide I will list:

Everything you need to practice for Hypnobirthing.

So think of this as your hypnobirthing recipe!

4 things about hypnobirthing before you start practising

steph mcgee in a pale grey jumper smiling and looking down as if at the hypnobirthing text below

1. When to start Practicing Hypnobirthing

As early as you like! Quick google search and off you go. Pinterest is a goldmine! If you want to invest in hypnobirthing I recommend starting after 20 weeks pregnant.

​2. The aim of Hypnobirthing is not perfection

The aim of Hypnobirthing is familiarity. Being nice and familiar with your breathing techniques. Confident with deep relaxation and where your mind goes during your hypnobirthing relaxations or hypnosis for birth. It’s about learning to relaxing deeply and easily whenever you want to. Switching off your busy beta brain waves and turning on your relaxing alpha and theta brain waves. And of course…feeling confident navigating your birth choices.

3. Don’t make time to practice hypnobirthing (if you don’t want to)

Because who has free time? Not me! So instead find time in your day when you can fit your hypnobirthing practice in to what you are already doing. e.g. If you are waiting for the kettle to boil or taking a shower? You can save yourself 2mins practicing your up breathing or pelvic floor exercises at the same time. And practice your birth hypnosis (or relaxation) at bedtime. Just before you drop off to sleep!

4. If in doubt, ask you Midwife if you are safe to do Hypnobirthing

Hypnobirthing is inherently safe. But it’s not necessarily safe for everyone. People suffering with psychosis or under the care of a psychiatrist, should seek medical advice before starting Hypnobirthing. And it’s always good to check…just incase.

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​What are Hypnobirthing Techniques?

Hypnobirthing is more about bringing birth back to where it has always been. Rather than adding something new into to what it currently is. Birth is a normal biological event, not a ‘problem’ to be fixed.

Hypnobirthing isn’t a pain relief method. And it’s more than just a bunch of techniques. But it’s a bunch of techniques that come together to make something magical! (And yes I know how contradictory that sounds!!!)

So Hypnobirthing techniques are just as useful for home birth as hospital birth. And as useful for physiological birth as medical birth.

Let me explain.

Birth is a normal physiological event. Natural birth is the norm for us. And natural birth is normal for all other mammals too! It’s only once in a while that we need extra medical care. Our bodies work well.

It’s only in the last century that our perception of birth has changed. Birth is now heavily medicalised. Defensive medicine is common place. Iatrogenic harm is on the increase. Film and tv unfairly depict birth as a horror story. And people (understandably) talk more about birth trauma than about birth joy.

So we’ve learnt to fear birth. We have learnt to doubt our body and doubt ourselves.

But Birth is Good.

Seriously! With the massive rush of feel good hormones, the power of your body and meeting your baby!! Birth can be the most positive and empowering moment of your life. Even choosing the medical pathway that feels right for you – feels good!

You deserve a good birth experience.

Hypnobirthing is sometimes credited to Marie Mongan but it was around for years before she or Lamaze had even started. The biggest hypnobirthing research came out of Russia where they evidenced both the clinical effectiveness and the positive birth experience created amongst birthers using hypnosis for birth, relaxation techniques and breathing techniques.

Hypnobirthing has been shown to increase the instances of a shorter labour, reduce pain during labour and reduce the use of pain relief drugs.

​What do I need to practice for hypnobirthing?

1. Birth knowledge

Get birth smart. Borrow or buy a good quality antenatal book, register for a free NHS course, or a hypnobirthing course. Birth knowledge plays a huge part in building birth confidence and reducing birth fears. Hypnobirthing will teach you how your body works: from your birthing muscles to birthing hormones, birthing needs and of course your baby. BIRTH WORKS.

Get birth smart! Fears are maintained by avoidance. So understanding how birth works plays a huge part in building birth confidence, reducing birth fears and reducing stress hormones. Trust me. Birth works. We are good at this!

So borrow, buy or sign up for:

Hypnobirthing will not only teach you how your body works: from your birthing muscles to birth hormones, your instinctive birth needs and of course your baby. But all about Hypnobirthing as well. And no other antenatal courses do that!

2. Birth Choices

Birth is like your body. It belongs to you. You have AUTONOMY. You have CHOICE. So knowing the choices available to you? And the pros and cons of those choices is key to an empowered birth.

Do your research. Read up about medicalised birth, induction of labour, augmentation and c-section. Understanding the processes will help reduce the fear. Knowing how hypnobirthing methods apply to all types of birth help too! Research pain management during labour. You might not want gas & air or an epidural, but knowing the pros & cons now? Will make your decision making easier if you change your mind. And learn about your lawful rights. Dr Sara Wickham and AIMS are great places to get birth smart and birth empowered. Golden rule of Autonomous Hypnobirthing is You Do You. And what ever path you birth choose? Knowing that you are fully informed and have chosen your birth path? Feels good!

3. Hypnobirthing Scripts

Scripts are one of the nicest ways to start reframing the way you think & feel about giving birth.

Hypnobirthing Scripts (aka relaxation scripts) are written copies of guided visualisations or mindful meditations that specifically focus on positive self belief and positive birth.

Scripts are a lovely way to start imagining birth from a calm & positive perspective. If you have a birth partner or birth supporter? Ask them to read a script out while you relax. Giggles are normal at first!

 

Scripts are gorgeous if you love the sound of your own voice, your partners voice or are hard of hearing. And one of the nicest ways to get your partner involved in your birth preparation.

Tip: Read your new hypnobirthing script yourself before using it for relaxation. Just to check you like it first!

Try some of my free hypnobirthing scripts here:

Face & Pelvis script is written to help you mentally train yourself to relax and ‘let go’ so your pelvic floor and uterine muscles can be free from mind based stress. I recommend using it alongside my Autonomous Hypnobirthing River of Birth relaxation. It’s a beautiful direct and indirect relaxation that gently brings in the methods on Émile Coué to help positively train your mind. Ready to breath your baby down.

Hypnobirthing Colour Anchor Script is written to help you find your hypnobirthing anchor colour. Anchors can help build a stronger subconscious focus on how you really DO want to feel and reduce tension based pain. (See the Hypnobirthing Anchors section below for more!)

 

4. Hypnobirthing MP3s

Hypnobirthing MP3s are pre-recorded hypnobirthing scripts – usually read by someone with a gorgeous voice! Recordings make hypnobirthing practice SO EASY!

You don’t need anybody.

Just settle yourself down, switch off and let the birth positivity flow. And start reframing how you feel about birth! Or like some of my clients? Listen while you potter about the house!

Your Hypnobirthing Teacher will give you MP3s alongside your scripts. So YES. Liking your hypnobirthing teachers voice is important! So it’s OK to ask for a sample before booking their course!!

Free hypnobirthing MP3s and birth rehearsal MP3s are everywhere on YouTube and Spotify. Or make your own recordings from your written relaxation scripts.

Golden rule of Hypnobirthing MP3s: Use whilst relaxing. Do not use whilst driving! And they are the perfect time to bring in some of your hypnobirthing anchors! (see further down this list).

5. Autonomy & Control

Hypnobirthing should be autonomous. No one talks you through driving your car. No one talks you through using a knife and fork when you eat. So why do most Hypnobirthing methods insist you need a relaxation script or a hypnobirthing MP3 to relax or give birth?

Hypnosis is autonomous. Hypnosis for pain management is autonomous. And I’d imagine most of the things you do? You do yourself! So we naturally want control. And autonomy gives us control.

So unlike most hypnobirthing methods that place your control on the outside? Autonomous Hypnobirthing places your control on the inside too. So all of the hypnobirthing techniques in this list? Can be done by you. Sure it’s easier when I show you how. But try it! Try your hypnobirthing relaxation without a script, or without an MP3 and let me know how you get on!

This enhanced level of a calm birth state is perfect incase theres an oops moment. Incase things go off track. Or medical interventions crop up. Nothing can take Autonomous hypnobirthing away from you.

 

6. Hypnosis for Birth

Hypnosis for birth is gold dust. It’s where hypnobirthing gets its boots on! Hypnosis for birth is perfect for you if you are birth scared, over worked, over stressed or worried about pain. And it’s my favourite part of my online Autonomous Hypnobirthing course!

Unlike a relaxation, hypnosis for birth is all the feels. It’s full control that no one can take away from you. It’s real life anxiety reduction and mental preparation for a connected journey through birth.

So whereas a relaxation is like an image swap: bad birth image swapped for good birth image. Hypnosis for birth gives you more.

7. Hypnobirthing Anchors

Anchors are AMAZING! Hypnobirthing anchors are one of the most EMOTIONALLY EFFECTIVE hypnobirthing techniques. The power of anchors is massively underused in most hypnobirthing methods but not in my online Autonomous Hypnobirthing courses!

We all naturally use anchors to feel good – so they need to be in hypnobirthing too! A hypnobirthing anchor is a one of the 5 senses (touch, taste, sight, sound, smell) that has a deep and automatic connection to a pleasant memory or pleasant sense of self, sense of being or sense of place. Anchors make us feel good!

Start building your anchor superpowers with my Complete Guide to Hypnobirthing Anchors.

The easiest Hypnobirthing anchor is scent. And many hypnobirthing methods don’t teach this! So build yourself a calm anchor by using your birth essential oil while you relax at home. Not just on the day you give birth. And listen to your birth music whilst you relax now. Not just on the day you give birth. Start building your subconscious connections to your anchors now.

So if you’ve going to invest in Hypnobirthing? Treat yourself to a course that goes deeper. Take a look at Autonomous Hypnobirthing here.

8. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Used in hypnobirthing everywhere but very rarely explained.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation is the art of being able to relax your whole body ‘top to toe’ with as little as a single thought. And it’s super helpful in reducing pain!

Mind and body are one. So when you relax your mind, you relax your body. But it works the other way as well. So relax your body and your mind will relax as well!

So whilst all Hypnobirthing (rightly) emphasises the importance of reducing fear and tension within the mind to help the body relax. Relaxing the body can help reduce fear and tension with the mind. And which is easier? Especially if you’re in a rush?

Body wins every time.

That said there are some genius brain hacks in Autonomous Hypnobirthing‘s that give even this gold dust tip a run for its money!

9. Hypnobirthing Affirmations

Short, simple, positive affirmations about birth, your birthing body, your baby, your birth partner and more. Hypnobirthing affirmations work like all positive birth affirmations. The thoughts we hold in our head inform how we think, feel and see the world. And we have thousands of thoughts a day!

Hypnobirthing affirmations are the easiest thing in Hypnobirthing practice! Write your favourite affirmation down, put it up somewhere you’ll see it regularly and let your subconscious mind do the rest.

Yes read it out loud if you would like. For best effect read it out for as long as you can bare. Stop when the words will no longer makes sense or you feel really (It’s a brain hack). Or consciously read it. But even just having it up where you see it regularly helps!

Affirmations are a fast way to transform your beliefs about birth and create a positive birth mindset. And although Pinterest is full of them? Writing your own is even more effective!

How to write your own Hypnobirthing Affirmation:

Take a negative thought about birth or a birth worry. And re-write it as a positive statement.

Following these 4 simple affirmation writing rules:

  1. Make it 100% positive
  2. In the first person (I, me, my)
  3. Present tense (is, am, are)
  4. Realistic

 

10. Hypnobirthing Breathing Techniques

Keep it simple. You only need 2 breathing techniques. One for the up stage of labour (first stage or latent and established labour). One for the down stage of labour (second stage of labour or the ‘pushing phase’). For the UP stage, choose from Up Breathing, Ribbon Breathing, rectangular breathing or 5-8 breathing. For the down stage choose from Down breathing or J-breathing. I keep it simple and just stick to Up breathing & Down breathing. Start here with my free Up Breathing Script and my free Down Breathing Script with easy to follow instructions & ideas for visualisations.

11. Glove Anaesthesia Hypnosis

This is a famous part of hypnosis for pain and medical hypnosis. It literally BLEW MY MIND when I had my first baby. Glove Anaesthesia Hypnosis numbs pain – with your mind! And it can work like a dream in childbirth! This is a key part of Autonomous Hypnobirthing and whilst most hypnobirthing will cover a stroking form of this technique Autonomous Hypnobirthing goes one better.

12. Positive Birth Stories

Humans have learnt through story telling since the dawn of time. Ok, maybe not that long, but humans have always created deeper meaning and understanding through story telling.

Think about it. How powerful are the bad stories? POWERFUL! But good birth stories work too. So when did you last read one? Did you know that they exist?!

Positive birth stories are another type of inner mental rehearsal and creativity within your hypnobirthing. It helps create more light bulb moments!

So many clients have said how a story I told magically hit a chord. Maybe something changes in their birth pathway and a story I’ve shared comes to mind. How someone coped or managed change. How someone used an affirmation or adapted their hypnosis. Or how someone proved everyone wrong and birthed their baby despite no one believing they could! You can read lots of my clients good birth stories here. From cesarean sections, to inductions to home births and faster than anyone could get there births!

13. Birth Plan

You NEED a birth plan. Here’s why:

How many labouring people do you think your average midwife has helped this week? Or just today? And all those pregnant peeps have been different. They have all had different hopes & dreams. Different personalities and different like and dislikes.

So how will a midwife who’s meeting you for the first time know who you are – FAST?

Your birth plan! (Or birth preferences as I prefer to call it)

Your birth plan is a window into who you are. What matters to you and your preferences. So write a list of what you do want and what you don’t want. Bullet point it. Paragraphs of text can’t be read fast! Be sure to include how you feel about:

  • pain relief options
  • student midwives (yes or no)
  • delayed cord clamping
  • who you’d like to catch baby (if not the midwife)
  • skin to skin
  • breastfeeding
  • vitamin k
  • placenta (keeping it/donating it)

And all the other things like hypnobirthing, comfort measures, mobile labour, monitoring, water. Even baby’s first outfit if a general anaesthetic c-section is on the cards. I could go on! Your hypnobirthing teacher will talk you through this!

14. Pelvic Floor Exercises

Also known as Kegel exercises these muscular exercises help to rebuild strength that is lost in the pelvic floor during pregnancy and birth. Multiple studies have shown that pelvic exercises improve strength, continence and sexual function. A randomised study of 301 pregnant women at Trondheim University Hospital concluded that “Women randomised to pelvic floor muscle training had a lower rate of prolonged second stage labour” and pelvic floor exercises are “associated with fewer cases of active pushing in the second stage of labour lasting longer than 60 minutes”. This NHS guide is a great place to start.

15. Perineal Massage

From 34 weeks the body starts producing the hormone relaxin which helps the body soften and stretch during birth. So start your perineal massage anytime after 34 weeks. And as always, ask your midwife if you are in any doubt. Why do perineal massage? It helps to soften the perineum in advance of labour and reduces the chance of tearing! A slow birth, breathing your baby down (rather than coached pushing) and avoiding interventions such as epidural or forceps also helps. Here’s a handy NHS guide on how to do perineal massage but we will cover this in your Autonomous Hypnobirthing course as well.

​When to do your Hypnobirthing practice

Getting your practice done is KEY to hypnobirthing confidence. Read my Full Guide to getting your Hypnobirthing Practice done. You’ll know when to start each each technique, how often to practice, how regularly and how to make it easy on yourself!: How Often to Practice Hypnobirthing.

 

But here’s a super quick ‘Hypnobirthing Practice – what – when – Guide’

Practice Daily:

  • Up Breathing
  • Down Breathing
  • Hypnosis or Hypnobirthing MP3 (daily from 30 weeks)
  • Pelvic Floor exercises
  • Hypnobirthing affirmations
  • Progressive muscle relaxation

 

Practice 1-3 times Weekly:

  • Hypnobirthing Scripts
  • Glove Anaesthesia Hypnosis (daily if starting later than 34 weeks)
  • Perineal massage (from 34 weeks)

 

Practice As & When:

 

  • Fear release script
  • Hypnobirthing Affirmation MP3
  • Good birth stories
  • Good birth films on youtube

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