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Can hypnobirthing be used in a Caesarean Birth?

April is Caesarean Awareness Month, so I thought it would be timely to address an

assumption that is often made about hypnobirthing – that it can’t ‘work’ or be used for

caesarean births. Sadly, I also sometimes hear that people feel they failed at hypnobirthing because their birth was an unplanned caesarean birth. I’m sorry if you’ve been made to feel this way, but honestly, there is no failure in birth or hypnobirthing, all births are bloody amazing and valid no matter how they unfold.

But where do these ideas come from?

Hypnobirthing has a hard time in the marketing department

What even is hypnobirthing? It’s for drug-free, intervention-free, homebirths right? Well sure, if that’s the kind of birth you want. But also, it’s for vaginal, caesarean, induced, spontaneous, home, hospital, birth centre (and anything else you can think of) births. Hypnobirthing is a complete antenatal programme and it boils down to a few key themes:

  • Mindset – hypnobirthing starts with what’s going on in your head. What’s in your mind has a huge impact on your birth physically. Seriously, think about the last time you did something embarrassing – did you blush? That’s your thoughts having a physical impact on your body. It happens in birth too. Worried about the pain? Or surgery? You’ll be physically tense, not breathing fully, releasing adrenaline and not oxytocin – a key hormone for birth and bonding with baby.

  • Knowledge – not knowing what is happening, or what to expect has a huge impact on how you feel (see above). But, also it means you have fewer choices because what you don’t know, you don’t know. In birth, whether that’s a spontaneous vaginal birth or an elective caesarean birth you have many options – these options are what makes your birth truly the experience you want it to be.

  • Teamwork – birthing people are awesome, they are strong and incredible. But, having a supportive team of people around them has been shown to improve outcomes. In hypnobirthing we include your birth partner in preparations/planning, we start conversations about not just birth, but parenting too. And, we talk about how to chat to and work with your midwife, obstetrician to really get the birth you deserve.

So, now you know a little more about hypnobirthing, can you see where it might help with a caesarean birth?

But, I’m planning to 'hypnobirth', I’m not having a caesarean, that’s the last resort

It might feel like an impossibility right now, your pregnancy is going well, no complications, you’ve read a load of books, you’ve done a birth plan, you’ve downloaded some hypnobirthing scripts or app and you feel ready to birth your baby and a caesarean is the last thing on your mind, better to just ignore the possibility? Hmm..

Every birth is different, they all take twists and turns along the way, and who knows what

might happen (hypnobirthing does not guarantee a pain-free, vaginal birth – sorry). But, what a good hypnobirthing course will give you is a great understanding of what a caesarean birth can look like, how to navigate it and how to make it your own. Preparing for Plan C – your caesarean birth plan puts you in the driving seat if this happens.

I’m having a caesarean, it’s all sorted, there’s nothing to decide/do

If you’re planning an elective caesarean it might feel like all your options have been reduced, that you’re in the hands of an incredible capable and expert team. Which is true, but this is still your birth – you do have options such as;

- how your environment is set-up; you can discuss music, lighting and more

- how you meet your baby; do you want to see them be born or lifted over the screen?

- when they are born; what do you want them to hear? do you want skin-to-skin?

Also, whilst things might be all planned out, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you feel ready for the birth of your child. You might still feel unsure as to what’s going to happen, or nervous or worried about the surgery or how you might feel or react in theatre. Hypnobirthing can help here too. Check out the first point again – mindset, knowledge, teamwork. With a caesarean specific course you can address your worries specifically, you can find tools to support your relaxation in surgery and find support for recovery and postnatal life too.

Want some support to prepare for you caesarean birth?

If you’re planning to birth after caesarean, check out my upcoming ‘Birth After Caesarean Birth’ course, if you’re planning an elective caesarean please get in touch for more information about my elective caesarean course and if you’re interested in making a plan C, join my next Hypnobirthing Antenatal Course.

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