Look into my eyes, you are feeling sleepy, very sleepy...
I think there is a widespread misconception (especially from sceptical birth partners!) that hypnobirthing is a load of wooey claptrap at best, and some sort of voodoo mind control at worst! I must confess, when I first heard a hypnobirthing track without knowing the science behind it and how it helps, I was like "What on earth is this?! Am I being hypnotised?"
When you realise that you won't be encouraged to do something daft, or weird, and that in fact your practitioner is not trying to hypnotise you, things start to make a bit more sense. What I'm actually doing in the guided relaxation sections of the course is helping you to achieve self-hypnosis. This is a deep state of relaxation that feels natural, calming and not in the slightest bit weird!
Have you ever driven from A to B along a familiar route and your mind starts to wander? This is self hypnosis! You are aware of your surroundings, and you would slam the brakes on if someone stepped out in front of you, but if undisturbed your conscious mind is allowed to switch off, and your subconscious becomes more active.
With practice, it starts to become very easy to put yourself into this calm state, where you are relaxed and more open to suggestion. We then focus on replacing negative thoughts and feelings associated with birth with positive ones.
You are in complete control at all times! If you wanted to, you could sit up and completely ignore me, and go about your daily business. You are not under my control and I'm most definitely not filling your head with something strange! When in a hypnotic state, your moral or religious beliefs, your intrinsic values etc. cannot be altered. I can't alter your personality either!
So how does it feel to enter into self-hypnosis in one of my classes? Here are some quotes directly from my past clients:
"I've never been very good at meditation so I wasn't sure how well I'd do with hypnobirthing and the relaxation tracks, but I was reassured that it was much more than that. I listened to the relaxation tracks in bed as I went to sleep and I found I never made it to the end. I'd be sound asleep just by focusing on my breathing and the words. For someone who has struggled with sleep all their life, I found this to be amazing. It just helps to calm you and stop your mind from thinking" - Charlotte
"The hypnosis with Katie in person and the relaxation track feel much like meditation and mindfulness I have done in the past, only I did not have to put in as much effort and focus to become relaxed. I was fully aware of my surroundings and in control. I did not go into a 'trance' like they do in the movies. It was an enjoyable experience and I am still using the tracks to relax and fall asleep, which is a luxury I look forward to while caring for a newborn" - Jill
"Before attending the taster and then the full course, we were unsure what hypnosis meant in relation to hypnobirthing. What we found was listening to the scripts were great at getting in a chilled state of mind were we forgot about everyday life and focused on ourselves. There was no loss of control, but a great feeling of inner peace. We often played the scripts as we were drifting off to sleep at night" - Steph
"I had this course bought for me and as much as I was looking forward to it, I wasn’t really sure what it included after reading 'hypnosis'. But after the first session, I realised it was as simple as being in such a relaxed state that you become calm and settled, and focus on what’s important at that moment in time. It becomes easier to breathe! Afterwards, you feel like a weight has been lifted and you are ready to continue your pregnancy journey" - Megan
So the theme throughout these accounts is one of calmness, focus and nothing supernatural or mystical. I encourage birth partners to join in with the guided relaxations; but if they would rather not, that's totally fine with me, I wouldn't insist anyone does anything they are not comfortable with. If they do join in, however, they typically drift off and we're nudging them awake at the end!