Reproduced from The Daily Telegraph May 2 2019 – Original article available here
Royal mum-to-be Meghan Markle has sparked a wave of interest in hypnobirthing on the northern beaches.
The Duchess of Sussex is rumoured to be practising alternative techniques to help reduce pain during labour. She is due to give birth any day.
Hypnobirthing teaches mums-to-be that birth is a positive experience rather than one that is painful and difficult and educates them about how the body works.
One of the key elements is meditation which helps women to relax during labour, with many saying they are so focused on their breathing they feel less pain.
The Meghan effect has definitely resulted in an increase in calls, according to Kathryn Bell, a Hypnobirthing Australia educator.
She said the positive word-of-mouth generated by the 150 practitioners across Australia, and the “royal seal of approval” had helped boost numbers.
The doula and a mother-of-two who lives in Avalon said she had taught hypnobirthing to more than 50 women.
She has also used the techniques during the birth of her second child Fern, now 3.
“It sounds hippy but it’s actually about making it as easy and comfortable as possible, and therefore a positive experience,” she said.
“It’s not new. Lots of women have been employing these methods for decades.”
Mona Vale mum Natalie Andrew, 31, said she signed up for hypnobirthing classes with Ms Bell when she was 26 weeks pregnant after a work colleague said she enjoyed her labour so much she couldn’t wait to do it again.
“I had never heard someone talk so positively about giving birth, so I thought I would give it a go,” she said.
Mrs Andrew, who works in digital media, said she was in a deeply relaxed state during the birth of little Freddy, now seven months.
And, while the contractions were intense, she wouldn’t describe it as pain.
“Pain to me is what happens when you cut your finger,” she said.
“What I experienced during labour was my body working at full capacity as it should. It was intense and hard work.
“I would say I was deeply focused, in a trance.
“I had never been in that state before.
“I wasn’t thinking, ‘That was a really painful contraction, I wonder what the next one will be like?’.
“My thinking mind was switched off. I had no concept of time.
“It’s like when you drive to work and when you get there you think, ‘I can’t remember driving here’.”
Mrs Andrew even used an eye mask to block out any distractions when husband Rick, 32, was driving her to Royal North Shore Public.
“I had my earphones plugged in and my eye mask on,” she said. “I did not want to worry about traffic or lights.”
She went through the 18-hour labour with no pain relief — she tried gas and air near the end but did not like it.
Mrs Andrew said the two-day course which she did with her husband helped change her mindset about labour, taught her about the body, as well as meditation and breathing techniques.
“In the movies all you see is women screaming,” she said.
“The course was about unpacking all that and learning how the body is built to give birth and how our hormones are 20 to 40 per cent more powerful than morphine.
“We were also given meditation and affirmation tracks to listen to which help teach you how to breathe through contractions.
“I listened to them every night in bed with my husband and during the day too.
“There are so relaxing, my husband still listens to them if he is having trouble sleeping.
“They even worked on the dog.”
Mrs Andrew said the experience was so amazing she was currently training to become a hypnobirth educator herself so she can help other women.
She said she hoped the ‘Meghan Markle effect’ would encourage more women to try hypnobirthing.
“Already people are talking more about it and I hope it helps it to become more mainstream,” Mrs Andrew said.