Antenatal classes are a fantastic way to learn so much about what to expect when you are expecting – covering topics like pregnancy, first-aid, feeding your baby, postnatal care, birth and labour, caring for your baby and more. There is so much to cover, which is why sometimes there isn’t enough opportunity to deep dive into the specifics of each topic.

Also, classic antenatal courses are great for making future mum-friends, as these courses are often run with mums only, whilst the dads join in for a single “father’s session”.

Hypnobirthing classes are often done a bit differently, and below are some key ways how hypnobirthing is different to the classic antenatal offering.

Hypnobirthing specifically focusses on preparing for birth itself

Unlike other antenatal courses which are a wonderful introduction to motherhood and all its facets, hypnobirthing has the aim to specifically prepare you for birth. It provides a deep dive into each of the stages of labour, explains what happens to your body at every step of the way and teaches you how your hormones and muscles work to support your baby’s delivery. You will also explore the “what ifs” and learn what options you have should your birth veer away from your “Plan A”.

Hypnobirthing reinforces that although you cannot exactly plan for a specific birth, there is so much that will remain in your control, because the knowledge you gain throughout the course will allow you to make informed decisions at every step, as well as better communicate with your medical team about your birth preferences.

Moreover, the class does provide you with a bit of “homework” – you will be encouraged to practice your breathing, relaxation and visualisation techniques in the evenings, in the conform of your bed – as often as you like. Of course, the more you do it, the greater the benefits that you will reap – not only on the day of your baby’s birth. Each time you commit to practicing your techniques, you will be rewarded with an instant mood uplift and newfound calmness. It’s absolutely perfect, especially for those mums-to-be who cannot help but worry a bit more than usual.

So, in addition to the breathing and relaxation techniques you will acquire, the sheer confidence thanks to your newfound knowledge will ensure you enter into your birthing experience feeling calm and prepared.

Hypnobirthing educates and empowers your partner, not just you

Yes, women are the ones who give birth to babies, and for a long time – definitely up until our parents’ generation – it was considered that men had nothing to contribute in the process.

The reality is that there is so much a dad-to-be can do during his partner’s labour, and hypnobirthing is a fantastic course to aid him with all the right tools to be an invaluable support to his partner.

The course teaches partners the difference between actively supporting the mum-to-be and actively “standing-by” – sometimes the birthing mother needs to remain undisturbed and focussed inward, so being able to create that space for her to achieve this is invaluable.

Dads-to-be will also learn how to be advocates for the mother’s birth preferences and confidently communicate with the medical team, thus enabling the mum to focus on herself and her baby during birth. By further understanding how the birthing body works, dads also gain a wonderful confidence in their partner’s ability to birth their baby.

What couples, and partners especially, are most pleased with after completing a hypnobirthing course is the strong bond, and sense of team that has been created between them, as they learn and practice their hypnobirthing together in the lead up to their little one’s birth.

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Mind-set and mental health are vital

Hypnobirthing’s number one pillar is that a calm and relaxed mind leads to a more relaxed, less tense body. This is in a much better position to give birth more easily and comfortably. The main premise, discovered by Dr. Grantly Dick-Read in the early 1920s, is that fear – the opposite of calm – causes the muscles to tense up. Fear and stress would lead the blood to flow away from the uterus, thus making it harder and more painful for the muscles to perform the job they were designed to do.

By introducing simple breathing, visualisation and relaxation techniques, hypnobirthing enables you to calm the mind, and thus the body, bringing it into a more comfortable state for an easier birth.

Before staring their Hypnobirthing course, little do families know that these very same techniques are utilised daily by the most successful performers, sportsmen and –women, as well as business people. So, you can reap the benefits of these practices long after you have given birth to your baby.

Hypnobirthing can often be done as a private class

Classic antenatal classes often have different modules thought by different experts – a breastfeeding consultant, a midwife, a paediatrician etc. – making rescheduling and coordination of so many diaries tricky.

The Hypnobirthing course is led by a trained hypnobirthing expert, allowing for the flexibility to tailor the delivery of the private sessions to best fit the diaries of parents-to-be with demanding schedules, as well as parents who may already have a little one at home.

Also, the private course will be tailored to the client’s needs and will focus specifically on the areas that are most relevant to them. Lastly, the couple will benefit from the teacher’s undivided attention and have all their questions answered.

What hypnobirthing is really about is achieving a calm state of mind during labour, to allow the body to work in the optimal way that nature designed it to, so that birth can progress as swiftly and comfortably as possible.

And this, I believe, is something that every woman can benefit from – regardless of how and where she wished to welcome her baby into the world.

Diana Devereux-Cooke runs Chelsea Hypnobirthing Ltd, in Chelsea, London

To get in touch visit Chelsea Hypnobirthing or email diana@chelseahypnobirthing.com.

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