Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Weird and wonderful world of hypnobirthing

GIVING birth is one of the most important experiences a woman can go through in her lifetime.

GIVING birth is one of the most important experiences a woman can go through in her lifetime.

It can also be one of the most painful but that doesn’t have to be the case, according to Jenny Philpott.

The mother-of-two, who lives on site at RAF Benson, has given birth to both her children following the practice of hypnobirthing, delivering one baby in her own home. It enables women to give birth without the need for drugs by training their minds to relax.

The Duchess of Cambridge was widely reported to have used the technique when giving birth to Prince George, while Hollywood actress Jessica Alba is also a fan. Mrs Philpott, 34, says: “Everyone thinks it’s a medical procedure but it’s about teaching people that women have been giving birth for thousands of years. Even if there are no problems everyone thinks they have to go to hospital and have pain relief but that’s not the way it needs to be.

“A lot of women think it’s this horrible procedure but it doesn’t have to be that way. For people who are pregnant and have these awful, negative views, I want them to know that I’ve had two wonderful natural births and they can have the same. It’s the most beautiful and important thing in the world and it’s sad that people feel so negatively about it.”

Mrs Philpott, who is originally from Northern Ireland, moved to Benson shortly after her husband Stuart, 27, joined the Royal Air Force as a training instructor.

He had previously been a professional rugby player for Ulster, where he took part in alternative training methods, such as visualisation techniques. Mrs Philpott had been pregnant with their first child Lottie, now five, when she was inspired by her husband’s alternative training techniques to research whether she could avoid the mainstream route of giving birth using drugs.

She says: “I thought ‘surely there’s more to birthing’ and I found someone who said she had given birth without pain relief. I thought ‘that’s crazy’. I decided to have a look into it and studied hynobirthing. The problem is a lot of people and I admit I did probably think it’s a bit hippy and weird. But all I found myself doing was talking about this.”

Mrs Philpott went to five hypnobirthing classes, where she was taught about the different techniques of giving birth naturally without the need for painkillers.

She says: “It’s self-hypnosis and about bringing yourself into a very relaxed state because your body is the most natural thing in the world. If there’s no complications in the birth then you don’t actually need drugs or doctors. If there are complications then that’s obviously different.

“It teaches you that there are different levels of pain relief. If you start down the route of intervention it becomes a snowballing effect. If you have one drug you might need another one to counteract it. If you don’t need to go down that route then steer clear and work on your body.”

She was also given a CD, which included relaxing music and commentary, to learn positive affirmations by listening to it repeatedly.

“It just tells you that your body’s working correctly and your baby knows how to be born,” she says. “I used to put it on in the car and it constantly reminds you all these things.”

Mrs Philpott stresses that there is no hypnotising involved. She says: “A lot of people think hypnosis is a weird thing and attach it to people running around on a stage like a chicken.

“It’s using breathing techniques and brings you into a state of relaxation. When your body relaxes it releases endorphins, which are like pain relief.

“You don’t really need anyone there unless there’s a medical problem. If no one is around you are still going to give birth but unfortunately when women are nervous their bodies tense up.”

Lottie was born in a “home from home” suite at Ulster Hospital, which was led by midwives rather than doctors. Mrs Philpott says she didn’t even use gas and air and had the “perfect” labour.

Mrs Philpott elected to have a home birth in the RAF base for Darcie 18 months ago. She only phoned the two midwives 10 minutes before the delivery and they arrived just as she was about to give birth. Lottie, who is now a pupil at RAF Benson Primary School, was asleep upstairs throughout. Mrs Philpott admits she had previously felt nervous but the births were the “most amazing and wonderful experiences I have ever had”.

“I found the course supplied me with all the information I needed to be confident in labouring,” she says. “It helped me get rid of any negative images or stories I had seen and heard throughout the years.

“It gave me techniques to bring myself into a state of relaxation during labour, which is why I believe my labour went perfectly.”

Mrs Philpott admits she did feel pain but that it was “manageable” without medication.

She says: “It’s not all about the pain relief, it’s about taking control and not being scared. I wouldn’t say personally that it takes away the pain but it helps you get through it and it’s a manageable pain.

“Your body is doing its natural thing and what it wants rather than going into hospital and being forced along. Medication alters the path the birth takes.”

Mrs Philpott says hypnobirthing also reaches out to men. Her husband’s active role in the each of the births has brought the couple, who have been married for almost six years, closer together because he became her birth partner.

“He had an important role during my labours, giving me prompts and messages, all which he learnt during the hypnobirthing class,” she says. “It really was a special time for us both and it’s lovely that he was so involved.”

Mrs Philpott calls her children her “organic babies” and believes they are calmer after being born.“It’s wonderful for the baby because they don’t have any chemicals in their body,” she says. “They are quite relaxed and not screaming. I call them my organic babies because absolutely nothing has gone into them.” Since then, Mrs Philpott has tried to pass the message on to other pregnant women. She says: “We live on camp and meet a lot of pregnant people through mothers and toddlers groups and I end up talking to them about hypnobirthing. I’m passionate about spreading the word that hypnobirthing can help women have the labour and birth that they would choose for their baby and for themselves.

“Sometimes when I talk to people they think it’s amazing but I’m like ‘we’ve been doing it for thousands of years, why are you so shocked?’ Being on base as well, women are scared their husbands may be away and not make the birth. It empowers you and allows you to take control of your body.”

Mrs Philpott has been so inspired by her experience with hypnobirthing that she is now going to take a course that will enable her to become a practitioner.

“I’ve been talking about it so much and it’s all falling into place now,” she says. “Hypnobirthing is worldwide now but I still find it weird that some people haven’t heard about it. It’s something everyone should look into, even to give it a thought rather than just assume you are getting shipped off to hospital for drugs.”

Mrs Philpott will be qualified in October as a practitioner. For more information, contact her on

lHypnobirthing uses self-hypnosis, relaxation and breathing techniques to have a natural, drug-free birth. It does not involve being hypnotised but uses positive affirmation to train the mind.

lThe idea was introduced in the 1942 book Childbirth Without Fear by English physician Grantly Dick-Read and his French colleague Michel Odent.

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