First introduced in the late 1980s, hypnobirthing has become quite popular for women anxious and fearful about birth. And while we can understand it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, hypnobirthing can positively shape a birthing experience. But the million-dollar question, besides, is it for me, is when to start hypnobirthing?
You might consider it if you’re experiencing through-the-roof stress and want to prepare yourself for labour. Part of the process is learning relaxation techniques, visualisation, and self-hypnosis as you get ready to welcome your child.
If you’re interested in hypnobirthing over conventional birth plans, we look at the timelines today. When should you start hypnobirthing? Can you start too early? What happens if you learn about it late into your pregnancy?
But First, What Is Hypnobirthing?
The conventional understanding is that stress is a combative element during birth, causing tensed-up muscles that restrict blood flow to vital organs like your uterus. Additionally, stress heightens your sensitivity to pain while blocking the release of oxytocin, the “love drug“, and endorphins, nature’s analgesic. When your stress levels are high, the likelihood of a painful and prolonged delivery is significant.
Enter hypnobirthing – an approach designed to counteract and make the experience more pleasant.
However, there are many misconceptions about hypnobirthing – what it entails and can offer. Contrary to popular beliefs, the practice is not a form of hypnosis or magic that melts away all labour-related pain and discomfrt.
Instead, hypnobirthing equips individuals with the tools and strategies to train the mind to perceive the birthing experience differently – as a positive experience rather than a painful, anxiety-inducing end of pregnancy.
Realistically, the general goal of hypnobirthing is to aim for a potentially shorter, calmer, easier and drug-free birth. Even if things don’t go as planned, the hypnobirthing tools and techniques you’ll have acquired can enable you to remain calm and focused.
When Should I Start Hypnobirthing?
While there aren’t strict guidelines about when you should begin hypnobirthing, enrolling in a course or learning programme earlier than later could prove beneficial.
For those seeking a rough time frame, the 20 to 30-week marks are ideal for learning hypnobirthing and practising the techniques to be used on the big day.
Some women, prompted by fear or anxiety, begin hypnobirthing sessions in the early stages of pregnancy or even before falling pregnant. While this approach isn’t inherently wrong, starting too far in advance might result in techniques being forgotten. However, regular practice can reduce this possibility, making the idea of “too soon” seem subjective.
Forgetting isn’t disastrous, though, especially since pregnancy brain can happen to anyone. You can always re-enrol for a refresher course or refer back to your notes to fill in gaps in your knowledge.
Is 38 Weeks Pregnant Too Late to Start Hypnobirthing?
Many women might encounter hypnotherapy as they approach the end of pregnancy while researching birthing plans.
If your interest has been piqued late, you may still benefit from hypnobirthing even with your due dateon the horizon. Although starting hypnobirthing earlier is more advantageous, it can still guide you and help you maintain calm during birth. Some hypnobirthing experts have successfully assisted women at the eleventh hour as they’ve pushed their babies into the world. You may still benefit even if you learn about hypnobirthing at the last minute.
How Long Will It Take Me to Learn Hypnobirthing?
Since individuals learn at different paces, the time it’ll take to grasp hypnobirthing concepts may vary.
It’s not impossible for mothers-to-be to memorise the material over a short duration and subsequently have positive birth experiences. However, it’s crucial to treat this exercise differently than you would studying for a final exam the night before. Don’t pressure yourself to learn too quickly.
Grant yourself six to eight weeks for the best results to avoid information overload and associated stress. With additional time, you’ll not only become familiar with the content but also gain confidence in implementing it correctly.
The more you practice, the easier it’ll become to enter deep relaxation when the time comes, so don’t rush the learning process.
How Much Time Should I Set Aside for Learning?
How do you fit hypnobirthing into your busy schedule? The good news is that it’s not overly time-consuming, and you can learn at your own pace.
However, consistent practice is essential.
The time you commit to learning depends on whether you’re taking classes with a professional, learning off YouTube or downloading one of the available apps.
Programmes with specialists typically range from six to 12 hours, spread over a few weeks. You should find these classes flexible and undemanding of your limited time, with weekend and evening lessons sometimes offered, which is especially helpful if you work a nine-to-five.
You can consult with online readings, courses, or a trusted app if classes aren’t suitable for you.
The number of hours you invest in hypnobirthing will be unique to your needs. Once you’ve mastered the techniques, you can easily fit them into your daily routine.
Hypnobirthing won’t limit you but may instead become a valuable tool in your life.
How Often Should I Practice Hypnobirthing?
Picture this: you’ve just finished your 30-minute hypnobirthing practice session and feel fantastic, only to open Facebook and learn about someone’s birth complications. Anxiety and terror wash over you as you envisage the worst-case scenarios of your birth. Could this be you?
Once you’ve completed a course or class, practising has no definitive endpoint, but should become a daily ritual. And that’s not only to keep the information fresh in your mind but because, in reality, we don’t live isolated from external influences. However, hypnobirthing increases your chances of remaining in a calm and controlled state.
How long you practice depends on your time and, possibly more importantly, your mindset at any given moment.
If you approach your upcoming birth with positivity and determination, then the effects of hypnobirthing might be working as intended. In this case, you might not need as much time as someone else who’s in a different head space. A quick 30-minute session might be enough to sustain you.
For others, hypnobirthing requires additional time and effort to feel calm and ready for birth. It’s not a matter of doing anything wrong but simply a case of needing more frequent practice.
If you feel fine the one moment, only to be overwhelmed after reading something online, consider increasing the time you spend practising.
Isn’t It Quicker and Easier to Learn Online?
Location, family and obligations might stop you from attending in-person classes. Therefore, you might have to teach yourself hypnobirthing. Fortunately, there’s an endless stream of online information that you can navigate on your own. You can also learn in your own space, which might be most conducive to learning and convenient for you. You can even purchase a Hypnobirthing Book, which you can read whilst you are on the go!
But the issue with learning alone is not knowing if you’re performing techniques correctly without the guidance of a hypnobirthing expert. You might also get frustrated by a lack of progress, especially if you don’t realise you’re making key mistakes.
When, if Ever, Should My Partner Start Hypnobirthing?
Can I Expect a Better Birthing Outcome With Lots of Hypnobirthing Practice?
Not precisely. There are no guarantees with childbirth. No amount of hours perfecting hypnobirthing techniques can prepare you for any unforeseen complications that might arise.
In that sense, hypnobirthing isn’t the silver bullet that blocks pain, quickens the pace of delivery or prevents medical emergencies from happening. While many women wax lyrical about hypnobirthing or claim pain-free births, your birth might not mirror theirs.
But that doesn’t mean you wasted your time on hypnobirthing or that it failed for you despite practising for weeks. Even if your labour wasn’t desirable, it might have worked for you in surprising ways. The techniques you’ve learned may have kept you calmer and in control, however, things unfolded.
Takeaway: When Should I start Hypnobirthing
Regardless of your perspective on it, the timing is crucial if you decide to embark on this journey. While there’s no set deadline or timeframe, starting hypnobirthing too soon or late into your pregnancy might reduce its effectiveness.
Experts recommend starting from 20 weeks onwards, providing you with enough time for learning, retaining and practising. How quickly you absorb the knowledge depends on you – it could take weeks or months to perfect everything you learn.
Whether you choose online or in-person classes, you’ll enjoy the flexibility and quality learning experiences. You can easily balance lessons with a full-time career or demanding home responsibilities. Many hypnobirthing experts hold lessons in the evenings and even over weekends.
Finally, it doesn’t matter how many hours you spend on hypnobirthing doesn’t guarantee a specific income. Things can go awry, but that doesn’t mean the time you spent practising hypnobirthing wasn’t valuable or a waste of time.
What are your views on Hypnobirthing? Let us know in the comments!