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'The course took away a lot of the fear of birth, especially for my husband and it was great that he had a specific role to play so that he felt useful'

> the birth she had always dreamed about. ‘I didn’t think I’d be able to be focused enough to do it and if we were just able to start labour in a positive way we would be very happy with that but by the last session of the course we were even looking forward to the birth,’ says Clare. ‘In the end I had a very calm birth in just two and a half hours. I didn’t even feel my daughter coming or being born. It was just amazing.’ Hypnobirthing doesn’t mean you will have a textbook hypnobirth but doing the course should give you the tools to remain calm and in control however your baby decides to come into the world, as fellow hypnobirther, Sabrina Steiner found out when she arrived at hospital. ‘I had hoped for a calm waterbirth but instead I was induced and ended up with a hard and fast labour,’ explains Sabrina. ‘However the course had shown us how to prepare for whatever turn your birthing takes and once I was able to apply the hypnobirthing techniques, it helped make the best of the situation and I am convinced it stopped me from having an epidural.’

INVOLVING DADS And it isn’t all about the mumto-be - partners are encouraged to come along to at least one session on the course and are invited to join in with the breathing techniques. They are also shown how to do light touch massage, a very light fingertip massage designed to release endorphins and promote relaxation. ‘It is fantastic that partners are involved too and, although my husband was sceptical, he loved going and was looking forward to the next session. He even got used to watching the birthing videos,’ laughs Sabrina. ‘The course took away a lot of the fear of birth, especially for my husband and it was great that he had a specific role to play so that he felt useful.’

Incredibly, the first time around for me, there had been no talk of breathing and keeping calm, no thought to empowerment or listening to my body. Fear had been the overriding feeling

MASTERING RELAXATION How to learn the art of relaxation for birth

For women giving birth naturally, the most critical skill to master is relaxation, says Catherine Beier, author and birthing partner. It may seem odd to consider relaxation a skill, but indeed it is. Maintaining relaxation in the face of the unknown, in the midst of the emotional journey into motherhood, can be a daunting task. If negative thoughts or self-doubt creep into your mind, they can undermine your ability to turn your body over to birthing and ultimately make your birthing a painful experience. To illustrate the skill of maintaining relaxation amidst distraction, Pam England, in her book Birthing from Within, suggests taking the "ice cube" test: holding an ice cube in your hand when you think you're completely relaxed. After a few minutes, you will most likely find that your "relaxation" has vanished. Relaxation techniques can be applied to every aspect of your life. The benefits of relaxation for improving people's physical and mental health have been well documented. To birth your baby, your body must open. Tense, tight muscles impede that opening. If you condition your body now to stay relaxed in the face of distraction, you will be better equipped to slip into deep relaxation during labour and birth. Read Catherine’s blog at

and that is what overwhelmed me when I had my son. But as is so often the case, it is the fear of something that is worse than the reality. ‘I’ve been scared of giving birth my whole life,’ says Lainey Norman, another disciple of Rose’s. ‘I just knew this course would help me, I had no doubts. I had no drugs, no pain, no screaming and my husband had no squeezed hands or scratches!’

Alice lives in Dorset with her husband and two children

MORE INSPIRATION FIND Details of Rose Byrne’s classes at LEARN There’s a course in hypnobirthing in Brighton in Oct and one in Northampton in Nov - READ Hypnobirthing: The Breakthrough to Safer, Easier, More Comfortable Childbirth by Marie Mongan


• Do whatever you can to say YES to birthing your baby. • Tune in and connect to your baby and your self. • Listen to your body. Listen to your emotions and internal needs.

• Is there anything you need to release? What are you anxious about? Is there anyone you need to ask to leave? Nothing is silly, even the smallest of things is greatly important if it is interfering with your birth. • Follow your instincts – they might be entirely different to what you think. • Surrender and hand birthing over to your baby and your body – no need to overthink it! • Stay present with yourself and your baby, avoid unnecessary conversation. • Do whatever you want to be at ease. • Ask those present to be as quiet as possible.

• Create dark, sacred space if you can – our bodies prefer dark, warm, quiet spaces to give birth. • To open yourself up wide, you need to feel very safe You also need to say YES to your body with every surge.



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