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Calm Birth vs Hypnobirth, what's the difference?


Written by Eugenie Pepper

Key Hypnotherapy

CalmBirth vs Hypnobirth: Exploring the differences and benefits for a peaceful childbirth


Calm birth and Hypnobirthing are both methods of childbirth preparation that aim to reduce fear of childbirth and share a common goal of helping mothers have a positive and empowering childbirth experience. Both have very similar benefits, which may result in personal preference, availability of classes and resources in a given area playing a role in deciding what the right fit is for you. However, differences are still prevalent.
Hypnobirthing is a specific method that uses self-hypnosis techniques to achieve a state of deep relaxation during childbirth. The aim is to help the mother remain calm and focused, and to reduce pain.  Calm birth, on the other hand, is a more general approach that emphasises mindfulness, breathing, and visualisation techniques to help the mother stay calm during childbirth.
Hypnobirthing typically involves a structured course of classes or sessions, where the mother and her partner learn specific techniques for relaxation and pain management.  Calm birth, however, can be more flexible and adaptable, with mothers encouraged to develop their own personalised strategies for coping with childbirth. Hypnobirthing emphasises the role of language and positive affirmations in shaping the mother's mindset and emotional state during childbirth. Hypnobirthing encourages women to maintain a positive mindset during childbirth, focusing on the excitement of meeting their baby to help women stay motivated and focused and help them to see the experience in a positive light. Calm birth may also incorporate these elements but is generally more focused on physical relaxation and mindfulness. 

Woman ready to give birth


Benefits of choosing a Calm birth approach

Choosing a calm birth approach can offer numerous benefits for both the mother and the baby. This approach to childbirth emphasizes relaxation, mindfulness, and a focus on the natural physiological process.

One of the primary advantages of a calm birth is the potential for reduced pain and discomfort during labor. By practicing techniques like deep breathing, visualization, and labor support, mothers can better manage the sensations of childbirth. This can lead to a more positive and empowering birthing experience.

Additionally, a calm birth approach has been linked to shorter labor durations and reduced need for medical interventions, such as epidurals or cesarean sections. When mothers are able to work with their bodies in a state of calm, the natural birthing process can often unfold more efficiently.

Beyond the physical benefits, a calm birth can also have emotional and psychological advantages. Mothers who embrace this approach often report feeling more in control, confident, and connected to their birthing experience. This can have lasting positive impacts on the mother-child bond and the postpartum recovery period.

Advantages of opting for a Hypnobirth experience

Imagine experiencing childbirth with a sense of calm focus, your body working in powerful harmony to bring your baby into the world. This beautiful possibility is a key advantage of hypnobirthing.

Hypnobirth techniques can equip you with powerful tools for pain relief, using self-hypnosis and visualization to shift your perception of contractions. Studies suggest these techniques can lead to shorter labors, reduced need for medication, and a more positive overall birth experience for both mother and baby. Ultimately, hypnobirth empowers you to approach childbirth with confidence and a sense of inner strength.

Can Calm birth and Hypnobirth be used in conjunction with conventional childbirth practices?

Both Calm birth and Hypnobirthing techniques can be used in conjunction with conventional childbirth practices.
Some expectant mothers choose to use these techniques in addition to traditional childbirth practices or medical interventions when necessary. Hypnobirthing techniques and Calm Birth methods can be integrated into a birth plan with the help of a healthcare provider, midwife, or doula. They can be practised at home or in a birth class and can be used throughout the labour and delivery process.
Using these techniques in conjunction with conventional childbirth practices can help expectant mothers to have a more positive and empowering birth experience by reducing stress, promoting relaxation, and increasing feelings of control and confidence. 

Is hypnobirthing more effective than other forms of childbirth preparation?

Hypnobirthing’s effectiveness compared to other methods can vary depending on you and your individual needs. Hypnobirthing is particularly beneficial for those who are seeking a natural, drug-free childbirth experience. It provides women with tools and techniques to manage the challenges of childbirth. Hypnobirthing can also help women develop a deeper connection with their baby and foster a sense of joy and excitement about the birth.

Hypnobirthing teaches women to view childbirth as a natural, normal process rather than a painful, traumatic event. By changing the mindset around childbirth, women can reduce anxiety and feel more confident and empowered during labour and delivery. Fear and anxiety can increase stress hormones in the body, which can interfere with the delivery process.
Hypnobirthing is great for parents who want to feel more in control during childbirth by providing them with mind-body techniques to manage pain and help women feel more confident and empowered.

The tools include:
  • Visualisation
  • Meditation/mindfulness
  • Deep breathing
  • Positive affirmations
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Self-hypnosis 
  • Mind-body techniques
  • Progressive muscle relaxation

What does research say about the effectiveness of hypnobirthing for childbirth? 

Extensive research demonstrates that Hypnobirthing is effective for childbirth.

  • Some studies have found that women who use hypnosis for childbirth are less likely to use pain medication or epidurals. Furthermore, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing found that women who received hypnosis for childbirth reported feeling more in control during labour and were more satisfied with their birth experience compared to women who did not receive hypnosis.
  • A review of 10 studies found that hypnosis and self-hypnosis during childbirth were associated with reduced pain, decreased use of pain medication, and shorter labour duration. (Madden et al., 2016).
  • A study of women using hypnosis for childbirth found that it was associated with reduced fear and anxiety about childbirth (Goddard & Liossi, 2014). A 2016 study published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, again, found that women who received hypnosis for childbirth reported less pain, anxiety, and depression compared to women who did not receive hypnosis. 

Hypnobirth vs calm birth


How can hypnobirthing techniques and affirmations help with childbirth?

Hypnobirthing techniques and affirmations can help manage pain during childbirth by promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety, which lowers stress hormone levels and decrease muscle tension.
By focusing on positive affirmations, visualisations and slow, deep breaths women can reduce their perception of pain and discomfort by entering a trance-like state. This can be achieved by listening to guided meditations or practicing self-hypnosis techniques.
Hypnobirthing encourages the use of positive visualizations to help women stay focused and motivated during childbirth. This can include imagining the baby descending through the birth canal or visualising a peaceful, serene environment.
The use of positive affirmations help women stay confident and empowered during labour and delivery. This can include repeating affirmations such as "my body knows how to give birth" or "I trust my instincts." and "my body knows how to give birth" or "I trust my instincts," allowing for an empowered childbirth. Affirmations are positive statements that can help to promote a positive mindset.

Can hypnobirthing be done alone, or is it best done with a trained practitioner?

Hypnobirthing can be done alone, but it is generally recommended to do several classes to become confident in the Hypnobirthing techniques with the guidance of a trained practitioner either one on one or in a group workshop.
A hypnobirthing practitioner can provide personalised instructions and support, answer questions, and help women develop a tailored hypnobirthing plan that works for their individual needs and preferences.
Additionally, a trained hypnobirthing practitioner can help women overcome any fears or concerns they may have about childbirth and provide guidance and support throughout the labour and delivery process. A practitioner can also help women integrate hypnobirthing techniques and affirmations into their overall birth plan and coordinate with healthcare providers to ensure a safe and appropriate childbirth experience.

Pregnant woman

How can hypnobirthing be adapted for different types of childbirth, such as C-sections or home births?

Overall, hypnobirthing can be adapted for different types of childbirth including C-sections and home births.
  • For C-sections, Hypnobirthing techniques can be used to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety before, during, and after the procedure. This can include deep breathing, visualisation, and positive affirmations to help women stay calm and focused during the C-section. Hypnobirthing can also be used to support healing and recovery after the C-section, helping women to feel more relaxed and confident as they adjust to life with a newborn.
  • For home births, techniques can be incorporated into the overall birth plan to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. This can include creating a calming birth environment, using relaxation techniques, and working with a trained hypnobirthing practitioner or midwife to provide guidance and support throughout the labour and delivery process. Hypnobirthing can also be used to help women feel more in control and empowered during home births, and to support postpartum recovery and bonding with the newborn.

Are there any precautions or contraindications for using hypnobirthing techniques and affirmations during childbirth? 

While Hypnobirthing is a safe and natural method it is important to have realistic expectations when using hypnobirthing techniques. While these techniques can be effective in reducing pain and anxiety during childbirth, they may not eliminate all pain or discomfort.
A systematic review of 11 studies found that hypnosis for childbirth was not associated with any adverse effects for mothers or infants. (Sridharan & Sivaramakrishnan, 2017). Hypnotherapy does not work ‘like magic’ and won’t completely eliminate pain or disappointment, if a ‘perfect’ birthing experience isn’t achieved. 

Conclusion - deciding between Calm Birth and Hypnobirth

Choosing between calm birth and hypnobirth can feel a bit like picking the perfect playlist for your birthing journey. Both offer beautiful melodies for a positive experience, but the rhythm might differ slightly. Calm birth provides a toolbox filled with relaxation techniques like breathing exercises and mindfulness practices. Hypnobirth delves deeper, incorporating self-hypnosis and visualization to create a powerful mind-body connection.

Here's the magic: you're not limited to just one approach! Consider your personality and preferences. If you thrive on structure and guided practice, hypnobirth's defined program might be ideal. If you enjoy a more personalized approach, calm birth's flexibility could be a great fit. Ultimately, the best choice is the one that empowers you to feel most prepared and confident for your unique birth experience.

Birth is a transformative experience, and every woman deserves to feel supported and empowered throughout the process. Whether you choose calm birth, hypnobirth, or a combination of techniques, remember this: you are strong, capable, and have the power to create a positive and memorable birth experience. These approaches offer valuable tools to navigate the journey with confidence and inner peace. So take a deep breath, embrace the possibilities, and get ready to welcome your little one into the world in a way that feels truly right for you.

About the Author

Eugenie Pepper

Key Hypnotherapy's founder Eugenie Pepper, is a psychotherapist with a focus on positive psychology and hypnotherapy.

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