I saw a comment in a Facebook Group couple of days ago with a lady asking,
“Do I need to be practicing for one hour a day?”
It’s something that comes up quite a lot, particularly when people find the Calm Birth School, or whatever hypnobirthing method that they’ve signed up to, quite late in their pregnancy. They wonder if they’ve got enough time.
The reality is…
Now, the reality is, the later that you come to hypnobirthing during your pregnancy, so i.e., from 36, 37 weeks onwards, yes it is great if you can dedicate a lot of time per day to practicing your techniques, because it’s not just about being able to use the relaxation, the visualization, and the self-hypnosis when you go into labor, but it’s also about retraining the way that you think about your birth, and letting go of the fears, or any fears that you may have lurking, either consciously or subconsciously, about your ability to birth calmly and positively.
The later on in your pregnancy that you are, the more I would advise you to carve out that time during your day in order to practise, and learn, and really build up your confidence about your ability to birth in the way that you were designed to do.
However, when you find hypnobirthing from 15 weeks, 20 weeks, kind of early on in your pregnancy, certainly any time before 30 weeks, the advice that I give my students is to incorporate it into your every day life.
You have to fit it into YOUR life
We’re all really bloody busy, lots of us have got kids already, or we work in really demanding jobs, as soon as you start saying, “Oh, an hour a day, or half an hour a day,” it becomes really overwhelming.
Whilst I do think you’re only going to be pregnant for a short time and it is important to make time for yourself so in an ideal world, we should just say, “I’m going to spend half an hour, or an hour, on my hypnobirthing practice, and sod everything.” I think that when we put that pressure on ourselves and we don’t manage to do it, it just makes us feel guilty and then it creates more stress, which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid.
The advice that I give is to incorporate it into everyday life.
The best way to do that is to set your alarm early, earlier than what you would normally get up. Then, so for example, for me, this morning I listened to my birth rehearsal MP3 in bed. I have the luxury of having my parents-in-law here, so they got up with the kids, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have had that extra time.
I had an extra half an hour in bed and I listened to that. My baby (who is probably already sick of my voice!) was having a little party in my belly because instinctively, when I’m listening to the MP3’s, I immediately start to deepen my breathing.
I was immediately practising my wave breathing, so my long, deep breaths I will be using when I’m surging, and when my baby and I are listening to the birth rehearsal, and I’m allowing my mind to go off and wander, and kind of create the pictures and images of what the birth is going to look like, or I’m answering the questions that I’m asking in the MP3, combining that with the deep breathing, it’s just really relaxing.
A winning way to start the day
Really, I’m promoting endorphins, and I’m promoting oxytocin, and it’s a great way for me to start my day, and my baby’s really enjoying it. Before I’ve even got out of bed, actually, there’s half an hour. Sometimes it might be just listening to the Affirmations, and that’s fifteen minutes, or the Powerball for Confidence, that might be 20 minutes.
You can do that before you’ve got out of bed. If you don’t have time to listen to an MP3, even just doing whatever breathing technique your course promotes for whilst you’re surging for 5 minutes before you’ve got out of bed, and then for 5 minutes before you put on your MP3 in the evening, is really, really fantastic. It’s just bringing your attention to the fact that you can use more of your lungs than what you do on a normal, every day basis.
Then the next time that I recommend you using it is like, literally, when you’re walking about, and when you’re feeling stressed. If anybody winds you up, if you’re getting on the train and somebody is kind of being totally disrespectful of the fact that you’re 3, 4, 6 months pregnant and is not getting out of your way, or giving you a shove, I say to my students, “Use your Calm Birth School breathing,” which is slightly different to the wave breathing that I was talking about before.
Reduce stress, fast
The Calm Birth School breathing technique is about reducing stress quickly, and really clicking into your natural calming reflex by having a much longer exhalation than your inhalation. When your toddlers are driving you totally mental, that is when I use my breathing the most.
The reason that this is so important, that you do it when you are awake in non-relaxing situations, is because, particularly if you’re not choosing to birth at home, if you are going to birth in a birth center, or birth in a hospital, I can guarantee you that there are going to be stressful elements either in the drive to your location, whilst you’re waiting in triage to be checked in, where you’re not in the most beautiful, relaxing environment, for you to focus on breathing beautifully.
When you get used to incorporating the fact that you can immediately release tension, release anxiety, release stress, in your every day life, not only does it build your confidence that you are going to be able to do this whilst you’re in labour, and sometimes even when you’re birthing at home, there may be stuff going on around you that does feel a bit chaotic for whatever random reason.
Know that you, in the middle of chaos, are able to find a safe haven by focusing on your breath, noticing your shoulders go down. Like I say, notice in your body where the tension is. When you notice that stress imagine sending the breath there. Notice how quickly you can release the tension in your jaw, you can release the tension in your shoulders, that you can create extra space in your stomach by increasing the amount that you’re breathing.
When you’re doing that every day whilst you’re walking around, whilst you’re on the train, instead of killing your toddlers, it really, really builds your confidence.
So much of what you are going to be applying on the day, (and your ability to apply it on the day) will be having the confidence to know that you can breathe deeply, calmly, and positively; you can release stress and tension on demand. This means when you feel the tension moving into your body when you are experiencing a surge, instead of kind of going with it and clenching and tensing up, actually, you’re really, really well practiced at releasing, and letting it go, and letting those sensations wash over you.
So, what’s the answer? How long should I practise daily?
Let’s break it down. If you only did:
+ 5 minutes of surge breathing in the morning
+ 5 minutes before you went to bed
+ practiced your stress relieving breathing in the day, whilst thinking about your baby and the birth
That’s probably less than 20 minutes, which is broken up into 5 minute slots.
From that you are going to be well equipped if you have done your reading, and all of the other stuff. From a breathing and visualization perspective, 20 minutes, broken up into 5 minute slots, is going to serve you really, really well.
The main thing is just, don’t make it into a big deal. Don’t be beating yourself up if you haven’t been able to schedule an hour a day into your diary, and just see how you can incorporate it into your daily habits, and you will be fine. It’s certainly the way that I advise our clients at the Calm Birth School to do it. It’s certainly the way that I did it. I’ve done it both times, and it works, peeps. It works.