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Review: Natal Hypnotherapy Birth preparation CD

Self-hypnosis for the labour room delivers more than we expected

Posted: 24 August 2006
by Maria Muennich

Natal Hypnotherapy's 'Birth preparation' CD

Can really help you through your birthing experience, however it takes shape
Needs your time and commitment to work but setting aside regular time to relax is no bad thing
Features: Simple CD designed to prepare you mentally and emotionally for childbirth and give you inner resources to draw upon when the going gets tough
Price: £16 when bought individually

The concept:
Pregnancy relaxation is from the Natal Hypnotherapy stable of self-hypnosis preparation CDs designed to help you cope with the challenges of pregnancy, birth and motherhood. The idea is that you listen to the CD at least once a day towards the end of your pregnancy in order to learn techniques you can draw upon to aid relaxation and boost positivity during labour.

A smooth and beguiling voice invites you to mentally relax before talking you through mental approaches to the challenges of labour against a background of sea-shore, yoga-style, relaxation musak. There's a separate CD of just the music alone for you to use during labour and birth itself.

In use:
I have to admit that I raised one eyebrow when the Natal Hypnotherapy series of CDs plopped on my desk. "Be relaxed, informed, positive and prepared", the spiel on the Pregnancy Relaxation CD promised us. Yeah right. I thought my doubts were warranted when I put the CD in the player and began to listen to the sleek, soothing voice enjoining me to close my eyes, breathe deeply and evenly and start to relax. Relax? Don't you know I'm eight months' pregnant, still working, have backache, heartburn, insomnia and.. need I go on? I stifle a snort as she starts to say something about 'breathing in golden light'.

But I need to review this CD, so I better give it a fighting chance, so I do. And from that moment on, all is changed. Almost in spite of myself, I do, in fact, start to relax as I follow the lullaby of instructions. How do I know I'm really relaxing? Well, because I fall asleep within minutes and only wake up as the music prompts me to. What's more, I wake up feeling great. And that brings us to the first thing to say about this CD: Even should you find it of absolutely no help in the delivery room, keeping to the programme of listening to it every day means at the very least that you have 40 minutes daily where you are putting your feet up and relaxing. You probably won't fall asleep every time you listen to the disc, I didn't, but even if you do, the makers say that you will still take in the CD contents as you sleep and so still benefit.

What many potential buyers of the CD will really want to know though, is whether the CD helps when it comes to being in labour. The answer is yes it can - if you really want it to. Playing the familiar music in the delivery room did help and I found myself drawing on the techniques described on the CD, using them to get through each contraction and remain calm.

My 24-hour labour did offer something of a challenge for the CD when it came to staying positive, especially as breathing through the contractions for 16 hours didn't deliver any progress on the dilation front. But again and again (and again and again) I remembered the reassuring voice and told myself to relax and breathe.

When the threat of a caesarian eventually receded in hour 23, and I finally got to push, the hours of listening to the CD in preparation really came into their own. Suddenly everything described on the CD now chimed with what I was experiencing as I felt the baby's head make its descent: I felt very much that things were happening as they were supposed to and managed to recognise the different sensations (ok, pains) I was feeling as signs of progress.

The one thing that didn't really work for me was the practice of mentally 'turning down the pain' like controlling the volume on a stereo, that could be because I didn't persevere with it though.

Following the birth my overwhelming recollections of the momentous occasion are very positive, despite its length. This has plenty to do with avoiding a caesarian and with the fantastic treatment I received at the clinic - of course, having an adorable son at the end of it all helps too... But I really believe that the pregnancy relaxation CD made an enormous difference, both to my birth experience and to how I felt about it afterwards, so I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to other women approaching labour.

This is not at all the verdict that I expected to reach when I first got started with the CD and the key to it being useful probably lies in the extent to which you can suspend your cynicism and commit to really trying to follow the recommendations given.

The ThinkBaby verdict

An immensely useful birth preparation CD that will only be worth investing in if you really try to set aside time for it and suspend any cynicism you may have about hypnotherapy
Usefulness: 5/5
Listenability: 4/5
Value: 4/5

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Discuss this story

I used Natal Hypnotherapy and am a huge fan!

I had the natural, home birth of my dreams without medication. After being terrified of giving birth after watching ‘One Born Every Minute’, a friend recommended ‘Natal Hypnotherapy’ to me. I booked on Dot Parry’s course in Manchester!

My husband and I did the ‘Natal Hypnotherapy’ day workshop when I was 27 weeks and from thereon I practiced with the CD almost every day for either 40 minutes or 15 minutes depending on how much time I had. As the workshop recommended, I wrote out some affirmations that resonated well with me and posted them in various places round my house. Affirmations such as ‘All I need to do is relax and breathe’ or ‘I know my baby feels my calmness and confidence’.

Before doing the course and reading widely about the natural process of giving birth, I guess that I had believed the idea which I think is prevalent in society that somehow humans weren’t made for giving birth; that we were somehow deficient in this area! However, after learning all I could about birth and doing all the hypnotherapy practice as the course and the CD recommended when I went into labour, I was very confident that my body would be able to birth my baby, just as my body knew how to grow my baby. I knew that my body was perfectly designed to have my baby, if only I would relax!

I had my favourite chilled tunes playing in the background throughout my active labour and the lights in the room were dimmed with fairy lights creating a calm atmosphere. The water was invaluable but the self-hypnosis gave me absolute confidence that I could do it.
The Natal Hypnotherapy gave me a battery of tools to help me relax. Because I was well prepared and had practiced the techniques, these tools came to me easily and naturally when I was in labour.

There were several different visualisations that I used in conjunction with my breathing, for example imagining looking out towards a beautiful red sunset across the sea. I imagined that the sea was a little choppy but with my outbreath, I was able breathe out a thread of golden light to calm the sea so it lay perfectly still. I also imagined a dial which could turn the intensity of the contraction down from 10 to 1. It gave my mind something to do other than panicking or focusing on the sensations. The ‘natal hypnotherapy’ explained about the ‘self-doubt phase’ where many women think ‘I can’t do this!’.
While it never occurred to me that I couldn’t do it, the sensations were definitely stronger than I ever imagined! Despite this, I found that I had all the tools to help me deal with the pain. I had read Ina May Gaskin’s book ‘A Guide to Childbirth’ which talked about ‘orgasmic births’. The ‘natal hypnotherapy’ course also promoted the idea that the sensations could be enjoyed. After each contraction, I knew the importance of welcoming each sensation as opposed to dreading it as I knew that it was bringing me closer to my baby.

My husband Dave was taught on the course how to help me and how to remind me to be calm using the 3-2-1 relax cue and how to use, touch, massage and breathing. I know that some men can feel helpless during the birthing process but the course gave us tools to ensure that he was an invaluable part of the process.

The midwives in attendance couldn’t believe how calm I was, especially for my first baby. My mum also attended the birth. Initially, she had been very against me having a home birth and was very sceptical about the benefits of using hypnotherapy for birth but she is now a firm convert and tells everyone how wonderful it was and how calm I was!
Matilda Rose was born on Christmas Eve, 5 days before her due date, a perfectly healthy 6lbs 3oz. My wonderful midwife, Hayley Greenwood knew the techniques that I was using and was very supportiv

Posted: 17/05/2012 at 22:07

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