While chatting with an American friend of mine about the recent birth of her daughter, she said that she was so glad she went with hypnobirthing. I was rather nonplussed. I had definitely heard of hypnobirthing but had little to no idea of what it entailed. The mere prefix “hypno” was enough to throw me. I had cartoon-like imaginations of a midwife rocking a pendulum left and right and a pregnant woman’s eyes kind of glazing over immediately. Perhaps the mum going into some sort of trance. I decided to do a bit of research, for the sake of adding to my general knowledge, and found that HypnoBirthing is something you can gain from a thorough education on birthing. Certain breathing and relaxation techniques are taught so that you can achieve the most natural birth experience possible. I tracked down Bee Ting, a certified Hypnobirthing practioner, of BabyWithBee.com.

1. Why consider HypnoBirthing?

If you are pregnant and totally scared of the birth process, consider preparing yourself thoroughly for this life-changing event. The Mongan Method is not just any other childbirth preparation class. It is very comprehensive in that it prepares you physically, mentally and emotionally, both consciously and subconsciously. Many antenatal class only spends about an hour or two on the topic of birth. The HypnoBirthing class spans 12.5 hours just on birth!

It is not good enough to know all the birth physiology and physical preparation (exercise, positions, breathing etc) only to panic when you are in the labour room and all the mental preparation goes out of the window.

HypnoBirthing also helps you work on your subconscious preparation by helping you release your subconscious fear and concerns and instill confidence on your body's natural ability to give birth. That way, you are fully prepared and confident. When you are free of fear and feeling calm and relaxed, our body is able to birth our baby easily, comfortably and safely.

Besides, taking the class together with your birth companion is a great way to start on the parenthood journey together, hand-in-hand. Your partner feels more involved in the pregnancy and birth process and often translate into them being a very involved, hands-on parent.

2. What about c-sections and emergency c-sections?

If you genuinely need a c-section due to health reasons, HypnoBirthing techniques are also useful. Because a mother's emotions directly affects her baby, imagine how your baby would feel if you feel panic and scared lying on the operating table? Mothers may be traumatised by the whole experience and suffer from postpartum depression if she was not prepared for her c-section.

Mothers can be taught to stay calm and relaxed during the surgery, conditioning her mind and body to view her birth choice positively, connecting with her baby throughout pregnancy and after birth.

For emergency c-sections, mothers are first of all taught to avoid unnecessary interventions like inductions or epidural or breaking the waters early which can sometimes cause fetal distress and lead to an emergency c-sections. If one is truly needed, mothers use the breathing and relaxation techniques they learnt in class to stay calm and feel in control. This feeling of empowerment even when birth takes an unexpected turn helps mothers avoid the postpartum depression.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends an average of no more than 10-15 percent of births by C-section, for optimal maternal and neonatal outcomes. However, the C-section rate in Malaysia and many countries are way above that.

3. Has it ever “not worked”?

I would say HypnoBirthing starts working from the first class onwards when mothers understand how their bodies work to birth their babies and there is no physiological reason for their healthy uterus to react with pain when it is doing the job it is designed for. Parents leave our classes feeling a lot more prepared and confident. HypnoBirthing works!

The extent of 'success' really depends on how much practice a mother puts in, how fully does she embrace the HypnoBirthing concept and how willing is she in letting go of her fears and worries. Also, another factor would be her choice of caregiver (obgyn's style). Her odds are staked against her if she has chosen a doctor with a high c-section rate if she is planning for a natural birth.

4. Advice for anyone thinking about doing this?

My advice would be to start the class as soon as possible (when you feel comfortable). Don't procrastinate and wait too late into your pregnancy to maximise the amount of practice you get.

HypnoBirthing works for sure but are you willing to invest the time and money into preparing for your baby's birth? Some parents feel that they will just leave it to the doctors and basically leave it to luck. They only attend the HypnoBirthing class because they had a traumatiaing birth the first time. Why wait till then?

5. How did you get onto this career path?

I became a HypnoBirthing childbirth educator after I experienced three awesome HypnoBirths myself. I was fortunate to stumble upon HypnoBirthing for my first birth and experienced three easy, comfortable, drug free, all natural birth with no cut in the vagina and no tear. I was able to discharge from the hospital on the same day. I want to share this knowledge with all mothers and took it up as a hobby initially, only to have see my practice grow and grow.

Now I am also a faculty trainer, training new practitioners from all over Asia plus started a parenting education centre, Baby With Bee, with a team of ten passionate practitioners and growing. It has been a fulfilling career for me so far, though I don't see it as a job. It is a passion.

Curious to know more about hypnobirthing?

Bee Ting’s Tedx Talk can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owVlRagHn40&t=7s

Janice Zheng is a Melbourne-based writer and editor. Born and raised in Singapore, she has also lived in Vietnam, China and Australia. She has written and edited across a variety of genres including hard news, feature articles, technical and specifications writing and press releases. Her coverage of a 2009 Australian oil spill disaster and its impact on the marine environment earned her a nomination to the Professional Online Writers Guild. In 2013, her family moved to China for her husband’s work. She joined the expatriate women’s volunteer-based society and wrote prolifically for its print publications and contributed to other expatriate magazines. Since her return to Australia, Janice has turned to writing and blogging about parenthood.

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