We asked international midwife Jutta Wohlrab about the advantages of hypnobirthing, her 30 years of experience as a midwife, and her bestselling book ‘Happy Birthing Days’, a comprehensive guide for expectant parents to prepare them for the birth process.
It’s lovely to chat to you, tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I am a German trained international midwife, coach speaker and author. I am also trained in homeopathy, Chinese medicine, Hypnotherapy, NLP, Yoga and more!
In over 35 years of being a midwife I have never lost the spark and curiosity on how to make pregnancy, birth and the time after, a beautiful and memorable experience.
I have attended around 3,000 births from home births to birth centres and hospitals in three countries on two continents. I specialise in supporting women, their partners and other birth professionals to achieve a happy, joyful birth.
Combining solid professional knowledge with complementary therapies allows me to offer unique solutions to the most common problems in pregnancy, birth and beyond.
You have more than 35 years experience – what’s your 3 step method?
My 3-step method is the best of 35 years of NLP, body therapy, Chinese medicine, yoga and more. It’s divided into Theory, Body and Mind.
- Happy Birthing Theory is concerned with everything to do with the brain, hormones and neurology of birth.
- Happy Birthing Body looks at postures, massage, positive breathing and tips and tricks for women and their partners to optimise the position of the baby in the pregnancy.
- Happy Birthing Mind: Using tried and tested NLP techniques I help to create positive anchors to help women stay relaxed and calm during the birth as well as training the brain on how to overcome fear. I also show partners how to stay calm and supportive through touch and language.
What are the advantages of hypnobirthing?
Hypnosis /NLP allows you to let go of fears and worries. It teaches you ways to stay calm and to connect deeply with your baby. One of the best ways you can use this is for pain relief and deep relaxation. It is a fantastic way to create the right vision of your dream birth.
How can these skills be transferred to an emergency c-section?
If there is an emergency it is most important that the woman stays calm and uses breathing to support the baby. The uterus is not part of the survival program and once the fight and flight reflex is triggered less oxygenated blood is going to the uterus which can make the situation worse. If a woman has the tools to breathe herself into a calm state of mind this is one of the best ways to deal with any crises that may arise.
What are you top tips for birthing partners?
Partners play an extremely important role in labour and ahead of the birth can prepare by practising breathing, touch and relaxation techniques.
In case partners get fearful (which is perfectly normal) they should have a good strategy in place so that they stay calm and relaxed as much as possible. I’ve found that when partners are prepared they get more excited and feel more involved in the whole birthing process.
How soon should women prepare for birth?
Women should prepare as early as 26 / 27 weeks on. It’s best to gain as much confidence as possible and make the most of the time you have. The lead up to the birth is the ideal time to start a breathing practice and to visualise how you want to give birth.
We’re often told ‘not’ to have a birth plan – how should one mentally view the prospect of giving birth and the choices involved?
A birth plan written in a positive way can be great. Be short and clear. Always take your birthing plan to your midwife visits. A one-pager, using positive language – that’s it!
What’s your opinion on epidurals, gas and air – and the other drugs that are routinely viewed during birth – do you encourage these?
My opinion about drugs is that everything has a time and a place.
Gas and air can be very helpful but does not stay in the system for a long time and should be used with caution. I feel it can be a good choice if you feel you really need something to get you through. The advantage is that you can be still in the pool or bathtub and you can be in different positions while using it.
I remember the beginnings of the epidural very well. I am grateful that it is available for long and complicated labours and for c-sections to allow mothers to be awake. Nevertheless it is an anaesthesia and comes along with a number of things:
- You won’t be able to be off the monitor so you can not give birth in water with an epidural
- It can cause a temperature
- You might need a catheter for your bladder
- You need a drip with fluid and most of the time with syntocinon /synthetic Oxytocin
- The length of labour average is going to be prolonged by approximately 79 minutes
- You might end up with a C-section or a forceps delivery
It can be very helpful if really needed. A women should be well informed about what comes along with an epidural so that she can make the right choice.
What do you think of the epi-no and other tools women are using pre-labour to prepare?
To my knowledge has there been no study about the epi- no. My advice would be that if you use it then please do read the instructions and use it correctly. I know that releasing the right hormones, slow birthing and certain body positions will help the perineum to stay intact.
If you could pass on three pearls of wisdom to our mums-to-be out there, what would they be?
- Birth is as old as we are, trust your body.
- Prepare yourself well in a happy cheerful way.
- If you want to achieve something surround yourself with people that believe in you.
Jutta offers a unique online birth program Elements of Birth, a unique insight into how yoga can really benefit women through childbirth. Jutta is also a Hormone Yoga teacher helping women through the Menopause, a NLP practitioner and a Public Speaking mentor.