Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
Author: Caroline Marcus
A GROWING number of Australian women are turning to self-hypnosis and other natural birthing techniques in a backlash against the bandwagon of women dubbed “too posh to push”. Practitioners say “hypnobirthing” is on the verge of becoming a mainstream option, as women increasingly rejected a trend for elective caesareans.
In hypnobirthing classes, mums-to-be learn breathing and visualisation techniques in a bid to relax as much as possible during labour, often reducing its duration and lessening the need for pain-relief medication.
Canberra-based psychologist Shari Read, who led workshops in Sydney in February and May, said that while hypnosis was introduced in Australia as a birthing alternative in the late 1990s, it was only now becoming mainstream. “Australia-wide, it is picking up,” Dr Read said. “There is a little bit of a move – almost a backlash from people. There is the whole ‘too posh to push’ label attached to some people. Then there are some other people who say, ‘No, our bodies are actually designed to do this. We’re going to do the best job we can the natural way’.”
Sylvania practitioner and member of the NSW Midwives Association Julie Clarke said there were about 50 practitioners in NSW, including 30 in Sydney, and “without a doubt” the trend had picked up.
“Some people are doing three or four different courses to prepare themselves for having a baby,” Ms Clarke said.
Feeling relaxed and calm encouraged the body’s production of oxytocin, the hormone that helped drive labour, she said.
When a woman is stressed, adrenaline inhibits the hormone’s production, resulting in a slower labour or stopping it completely.
Kerryn Hoffman, 36, of Thornleigh, has used hypnobirthing during all three of her drug-free labours, most recently six weeks ago during the birth of her son, Noah. “I was cracking jokes in the last one,” Mrs Hoffman said. “No one could believe I was in labour. Even the obstetrician was looking at the trace and looking at me and I looked like I was asleep. “I can’t imagine how having your stomach sliced open is preferable to breathing. Our bodies are made to push babies out, so why wouldn’t you give that a try?”
The editor-in-chief of Pregnancy & Birth magazine, Fiona Baker, says many women were inquiring about self-hypnosis.
“It is definitely growing in popularity,” Ms Baker said. “Women know they don’t just have to go for an epidural.”
Other popular trends included the Alexander technique, which teaches women how to release postural tension and breathing, and the Bradley method, which teaches everything from nutrition to stretching exercises.
A spokeswoman for South Eastern Sydney and Illawarra Area Health Service said hypnobirthing was not offered at the Royal Hospital for Women but mothers who did the course externally would be supported in the birthing suite.