How to Choose a Hypnobirthing Course
You’ve heard whispers in the air that hypnobirthing is worth exploring, but a quick google leaves you baffled. With new instructors and companies appearing all the time, how do you choose a hypnobirthing instructor or a course?
FACE TO FACE VS ONLINE
Most instructors offer face to face sessions (or did pre-COVID!) but some companies have set up online courses to work through at your own pace. Of course, right now many instructors might be working online to deliver sessions via video call. What we’re really talking about here is the difference between a live instructor, getting to know you and your birth partner, versus ‘one size fits all’ online learning modules. Live instructors will have taken the time to research your proposed maternity unit and will know how to adapt the techniques to suit the policies in different birthing places. If they are local to you, they will more than likely have experience in teaching other parents-to-be using the same maternity services or home birth team. Some instructors will even have links to the staff in local NHS trusts, giving them further insight into how you might need to adapt your hypnobirthing strategies according to how things work near you. Pre-recorded video courses often come with a downloadable workbook and MP3s. They are usually cheaper and you can be more flexible with the time you spend on learning, fitting it in when you please. “Be aware of online courses that don’t tailor their content to you, your individual experiences and circumstances,” says Georgia Mathieu from Birth Easy with Georgia “Instructors need to be able to spend time understanding the birth you want and helping you to create that, but also helping you to understand how to deal with things if that plan has to change. Knowledge of how your local maternity services work is a real advantage here, as everywhere has a slightly different policy.” GROUP OR PRIVATE HYPNOBIRTHING SESSIONS? This all depends on you. Group courses can be sociable and are usually held at convenient times, though these aren’t always suitable for those with children to look after or people who work different shifts each week. A great advantage though is the support network that is often left over once the course finishes. Many instructors will advise you stay in touch through a private Whatsapp group, or similar, so that you can let each other know how you get on. Private sessions are usually more expensive, but there is less time spent on checking in with each couple and the learning is really personalised to your own needs. “With private sessions, the sessions can be tailored to you.” says Georgia. For example, some couples need to overcome trauma, others already know some of the content, so we can tailor it to meet your needs. Plus, we can master techniques together and make the content personal to you as we progress through the course." WHAT ABOUT THE BOOKS AND APPS?
More recently, an abundance of books and apps have appeared on the hypnobirthing scene, seemingly offering a cheaper way to learn. There are some fantastic books available, but don’t forget you’ll only be getting that one-size-fits-all approach. With a book, there’s little room for personalisation. What works for one person doesn’t always work for others, especially when using visualisations and self-hypnosis, which can be pretty dependent on your own prior experiences. A book won’t be able to tailor content just to you.
Hypnobirthing apps, such as the Freya app, claim to help you with breathing techniques for birth. What you actually get is a generic contraction timer with optional background music and a hypnosis track over the top. It can be useful, especially if you’ve already taken a course and know how to use it, how to breathe and when to switch to something else. However, as a starting point or stand-alone resource, it’s unlikely to help you through your labour unlike the advice and guidance of a fully trained and accredited instructor.
Georgia Mathieu agrees. "Put it this way...you can read a book on how to swim, or you can jump straight into the water. It's much the same for Hypnobirthing. You can read a book or download an app, or you can book a course with an instructor!” she says. SO HOW DO I CHOOSE AN INSTRUCTOR?
The hypnobirthing world is full of a range of different style instructors. Many make the link between the mind and body, working with mindfulness techniques, encouraging positivity and calm. Others teach more evidence-based methods, having looked at studies and current research to find out how to make hypnobirthing more effective. For hypnobirthing to work best, you need to trust in what you’re hearing and feel comfortable asking questions. It’s important to choose an instructor aligned with your own values. The great news is, there are plenty of us out there! TOP TIPS
Find a face-to-face instructor, even if they’re teaching online during the pandemic
Avoid generic video courses offering no personalisation
Local instructors may know more about maternity units near you, but out-of-area instructors might seem like a better match for you. Find the right balance.
Don’t substitute the experience and expertise of an instructor for a book or an app
Samantha Bevington is a hypnobirthing expert from Manchester, helping parents-to-be feel confident and prepared for birth.