There’s a big debate going on at the moment on a Facebook group I belong to about what people think of ‘hypnobirthing’. But to be asked what do you think of ‘hypnobirthing’ is like being asked what do you think of the ‘hoover’, when actually you are being asked about a vacuum cleaner. There are 1,000’s of vacuum cleaners, most of which are not made by Hoover. Yes they all clean your floor but in different ways and we each prefer one type over another.
I believe that it would be much better if different programmes that used hypnosis simply said that. I am a hypnotherapist and when I wrote The Wise Hippo Birthing programme I included hypnosis techniques as part of the course.
In my opinion, and as the creator of the programme my opinion is really the only one that is valid ;-), The Wise Hippo is not hypnobirthing. It is a programme that uses hypnosis techniques.
Why is this so important? Because you can’t compare chocolate and roast beef if you are expecting them to be the same. The programmes that use hypnosis are not all the same. By ‘not all the same’ I mean different, not to be confused with inferior vs better.
The name has become generic simply because the first course that became well known for using hypnosis was called HypnoBirthing (in my personal opinion I believe should be the only ones with the right to use the term ‘hypnobirthing’ but that’s a whole other debate).
Why does it matter? Because pretty much everyone I know who cares about birth uses the term ‘informed choice’. If women think they are always getting the same thing when they choose ‘hypnobirthing’ they are most definitely not making an ‘informed choice’.
Also, when studies are done under the name of ‘hypnobirthing’ the results are not about ‘hypnobirthing’ they are about the programme that was used. Good, bad or otherwise the results can’t be attributed to any programme other than the one that was part of the study.
The wonderful Dr. Joanna Martin, who will be running a workshop at our Wise Hippo Pod Meet, said something recently that really struck a chord with me. She said it would be unethical of her to talk about something, in this particular instance “selling from the stage”, and not make sure that people knew that she was talking about her product. Her reason being. If someone bought into the fact that it would be good for their business to learn how to “sell from the stage”, but went to a competitor with a completely different approach that didn’t work for them, then Joanna believes that their failure is her fault. Joanna’s way of selling from the stage may have totally resonated with them where as the approach of the competitor obviously didn’t. Still talking about different not better because we are all different and respond to things in our own unique way.
When I heard Joanna say this I wanted to jump up and down and say this is how I feel about the use of the word ‘hypnobirthing’. It is very misleading.
Here at The Wise Hippo we have a very different approach to other programmes that use hypnosis. I am going to repeat different not better because this is not about self-promotion.
The Wise Hippo won’t be the right programme for everyone. Each birth programme that uses hypnosis and any other antenatal programme for that matter has its own unique philosophy and values. Having different programmes is good for pregnant women because it provides variety and keeps businesses on their toes and striving to improve.
But if everyone is lumped under the same umbrella how does this affect informed choice?
Let’s look at some different scenarios (please note these are generic examples and are not relating to any one programme, other than when The Wise Hippo is mentioned, or the approach of any individual ‘hypnobirthing’ instructors).
Here at The Wise Hippo we don’t focus on one type of birth. We want women to consider our classes whether they want a natural birth, are considering using pain relieving drugs, if they are having a cesarean section or anything else in between. This is different (remember different not better) to some other programmes.
If a Wise Hippo instructor is sharing our approach to a mum-to-be who is considering using pain relieving drugs, but wraps it in the term ‘hypnobirthing’, the mum-to-be will be thinking great I don’t have to give up my epidural if I prepare for my birth using ‘hypnobirthing’. She finds her local ‘hypnobirthing’ instructor but doesn’t realise they have a different approach to The Wise Hippo Instructor. Their main focus is a natural birth without drugs (I’m not saying they will send the mum wanting an epidural packing but their approach will not feel in sync with her needs). Not surprisingly she is going feel let down. It won’t be the fault of the instructor she’s booked with but the instructor who wasn’t clear about the fact that the approach she was talking about was The Wise Hippo Birthing programme, that happens to use hypnosis techniques, not ‘hypnobirthing’.
If the same Wise Hippo instructor was talking to a woman who was really focussed on a natural birth without drugs she wouldn’t notice if she turned up at the other instructors door….
…as long as it all went to plan.
What if it didn’t? She was told by The Wise Hippo Instructor that she would learn how to have ‘the right birth on the day’ using ‘hypnobirthing’ and she didn’t get the natural birth without drugs she was hoping for. She’s going to be mad, right? However, it’s not the fault of the person who taught her but the original instructor who allowed her to think that ‘the right birth on the day’ approach was something that ‘hypnobirthing’ would teach her rather than The Wise Hippo.
We need to take responsibility for the expectations we are laying on pregnant women. We need to make sure that when a woman chooses ‘hypnobirthing’ she knows what that means. That there is a great variety of courses out there that use hypnosis techniques each of which have their own unique approach to birth preparation.
This means that she can do her research, consider her options and find the right antenatal education for her.