3 Ways Hypnobirthing can support your Mental Health in Pregnancy
This week is Mental Health Awareness week and last week was Maternal Mental Health week- one thing is for sure we, as a society are putting more emphasis on our mental health and rightly so. The last 12 months and more has affected our lives to the very core. A pandemic! Who could have known the struggles that were to come? But how can hypnobirthing help our mental health?
I am never one to over promise when it comes to hypnobirthing. You won’t find any pledges of pain-free births or encouragement to “achieve” a certain kind of birth here- not on my watch people! And the same applies to the impact that hypnobirthing can have on your mental health. The truth is that if you have a diagnosed mental health condition, hypnobirthing isn’t going to fix it but it can be part of your care plan and it can make a difference. If you don’t have a Mental Health “condition” but you are suffering with “poor” mental health (who hasn’t experienced that??) then if you implement these techniques, I feel confident in saying you should notice a positive difference. However, most of these techniques take some time, practice and a small amount of skill (which you can learn) so please don’t do them once and expect a holy miracle. Give yourself time. Allow yourself to shed any resistance and be consistent in the use of them.
So, if you are pregnant and feeling like you have been been metaphorically hit by a tonne of bricks and your mental health is slowly (or quickly) declining, here are 3 tools you can implement today.
1. Releasing your fears – do you have a racing mind? Thoughts churning around? Maybe you push the thoughts away and try not to think about them? As someone who has suffered with poor mental health and also had depression, anxiety and OCD intrusive thoughts I am no stranger to fearful thoughts darting around my mind. In fact, I used to feel like my mind was a goldfish bowl. The thoughts would literally just swim round and round with no where to go. It wasn’t until I started to write them down or speak them out loud that I felt like I had interrupted that circuit and could find some relief from them or at the very least reduce the intensity of those big fears. Take 10 mins and sit with someone you trust (like your birth partner) write down all those fears and concerns and talk them through. You can even do something symbolic like tearing up the paper after or burning it. Simple? Very! Effective? Very! However, it does take some courage and it might not be something you are ready for right now. That’s ok. Plant the seed and work towards this as a goal in your overall plan for birth prep. In a TCBS hypnobirthing course, your instructor will help you to address your fears and work through them. We have a specific MP3 which helps with releasing the fear too.
2. Hormone hit – essentially those thoughts we were discussing above set up a chain reaction in your body. When we experiencing a real-life dangerous situation, our brain sends a message to our body – HELP WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING! We release hormones like adrenalin and cortisol and our fight or flight response is triggered. This is good! We might need to escape, take cover, run like the wind or stay very quiet but the thing about our “oh-so-clever-and-evolved-brain” is that it can’t differentiate between what is real and what is not. So even if you aren’t experiencing an actual threatening or dangerous situation but you perceive something to fall into that category then your body will respond in the same way. Fight or flight means racing heart rate, blood sent to the extremities, fast breathing, sweating and a whole host of other uncomfortable bodily functions! Whilst in the depths of my own depression and experiencing OCD Intrusive thoughts I would wake up every.single.damn.day covered with a pins and needles type sensation all over my arms and hands. I didn’t realise it at the time but this was my body’s fight or flight response and was a consequence of the blood rushing to my arms (and legs) to help me to fight that threatening situation (which wasn’t actually real!). I found a great way to help me manage the racing mind and the anxiety symptoms was to release happy hormones like endorphins and oxytocin. This might have been as simple as having a cuddle with my husband (or dropping into my Mum’s house and demanding a hug!), watching my kids play, or attending my weekly Reiki session which I was having regularly as part of my own recovery plan. I always felt more chilled out afterwards and a little more like me. So, what can you do today to help you release those feel-good hormones? In a hypnobirthing course, you can learn all about how the release of adrenaline can effect your labour and birth experience and how to ensure you release those gorgeous hormones like oxytocin and endorphins to help you power through your labour.
3. Breathing- when you are feeling anxious do you ever stop and take notice of how you are breathing? Probably not because unsurprisingly breathing is a function of the sub-conscious. It is something we just do without thinking about it. I remember the feeling of breathing quickly, in and out of my mouth to the point that it had me almost hyperventilating!! The great thing is though… we can make breathing a conscious activity and reap the rewards of it. By bringing attention to our breath, we can slow it down and move the body away from fight or flight and into a “rest & digest” state. This lowers your heart rate and your blood pressure and helps you to feel more normal. You can literally think of slow conscious breathing as hacking into your system and breaking that habit of kicking into fight or flight. In a TCBS class you will learn 3 amazing breathing techniques to use at different times during your labour to help keep you in “rest and digest” mode, release all those beautiful birth hormones and to work with your body during labour. It might “just” be breathing but it is very powerful!
And there we have it. There are loads of ways hypnobirthing can support your mental health during pregnancy (and beyond) and these are just 3 which you can put into action today.
Like what you have heard? Why not get in touch with one of our TCBS instructors today to see how they can support you during your pregnancy? Check out our directory here!