How Hypnobirthing Helped Me Own My Birthing Experience

This mom helps break down hypnobirthing concepts to ensure a smooth, stress-free pregnancy.

Hypnobirthing sounded hippie, and well, a little cuckoo to me the first time I heard of the term. But glowing reviews from many moms on YouTube, an open-minded approach from my gynaecologist, and talking to an Indian mom about it, made me curious and confident enough to find out more. I did an online course from the Positive Birth Company which opened my eyes and my mind to the approach.

I found myself falling back to hypnobirthing concepts through the emotionally and physically intense experience that is labour. While not everything went as per plan, I can confidently say that I was able to feel calm, in control and enjoy the 20-odd hours of my labour because of the tools that hypnobirthing had given me.

Today, I share the top 7 hypnobirthing tools to keep in mind as you get ready for D-day.

Tool #1: Thinking of birth as a positive experience that our bodies are empowered to give

When I thought of labour, I imagined legs up in stirrups, a lot of pushing, red-in-the-face screaming and pain. So much pain. I felt overwhelmed and a little scared. In this context, the empowering message that hypnobirthing corner-stoned on – labour is a natural process and our bodies are built to do this – was a revelation. Reading positive birth stories and hearing new moms talk about how powerful their bodies felt made me wonder if I could actually enjoy my labour. My mind opened up to the possibility that labour wasn’t something to be afraid of, but something to look forward to.

Tool #2: Understanding the stages of labour and what your body does in each

The more I learnt about how labour progressed, the more it felt like a natural, organic process that was the epitome of how powerful the human body is. The doctors and nurses are there to help handle the exceptions and make things safer for us, but this really is our body’s act. Understanding what the body does in each stage of labour – first dilating, then the baby descending, then the muscles contracting to push the baby out – paved the way for me to then understand what I can do to help my body in each stage.

Tool #3: Create a private, homely environment in your birthing space

One of the key players in this symphony is the oxytocin hormone. Oxytocin facilitates dilation during labour, and it flows when you feel calm and relaxed. So it’s important that you are in a safe, private and intimate environment during labour. This may not be the default mode at your hospital ward – with nurses whizzing in and out with injections and drips. So you can do simple things to become comfortable where you are. I brought along my favourite music and listened to it on my earphones, kept the lights dimmed in our section, and sat in active poses – upright and leaning forward. Even when things didn’t go to plan – we were in the transitional ward because all the rooms were occupied – I did what I needed to be comfortable in my zone. My husband and I went for a walk after each round of induction. I did hip rotations hula hoop style, squatted and even danced around. The nurses were mildly amused, and mostly smiling. I decided to think as if I was the only one there and did what I needed to make myself be totally at ease.

Tool #4: Your birthing partner – your advocate and ally through it all

My birthing partner was my husband, but it can be your mom, mom-in-law or someone else you trust and you will have with you, throughout your labour. Before D-day, you should think through your birth preferences and discuss them with your partner. It’s also important to discuss the key decision points – what you want to do and how you want to decide. Do you want to go for an epidural? At how many cms of dilation will you take the call? As labour builds in intensity, your partner should be your advocate and helper – speaking on your behalf when you cannot.

Tool #5: Breathing exercises to help your body do what it’s doing

I've practisced yoga earlier so hypnobirthing’s concept of using breathing exercises to help your body during labour resonated with me. In fact, I found the two breathing exercises used are slight variations of pranayamas. During the second stage of labour, Up breathing (or 4-8 breathing, a variation on anulomaviloma pranayama), helped your body relax between contractions. During the third stage of labour, down breathing (or J breathing, a variation on Ujeiyi pranayama) helps the baby descend into the pelvic canal. I practised these breathing exercises daily during the last 8 weeks of my pregnancy which helped me to internalise them so that I could do them intuitively on D-day.

Tool #6: Positive reaffirmations and visualizations to stay calm when things don’t go to plan

Nobody’s labour goes exactly to plan. While I did have a normal delivery I’d hoped for, it took 3 rounds of induction over 12 hours for us to get there. This wasn’t what we’d expected going in. After each round of induction, I’d take a walk around the hospital corridors with my husband, do squats and other upright activities, and then monitor the baby through a Non-stress test (NST). For the 30-40 minutes of NST, I would close my eyes, do deep breathing and listen to pre-recorded positive affirmations on my wireless earphones. Doing this (combined with all the positive reaffirmations I’d done in the weeks leading up), gave me a sense of quiet confidence. After each round when my contractions didn’t pick up as we’d hoped when we had to take a call on what to do next – I was able to do it from a place of confidence, and not fear.

Tool #7: A framework to take the key decision around induction, epidural and C-section.

While everyone’s labour experience is different, there are a couple of key decision points that are common: Do you want to be induced, and by when? Will you take an epidural? Will you elect for a c-section – in what scenario? Before D-day arrives, ensure that you discuss each of these decision points with your gynaecologist to understand the pros/cons and the alternatives. You might have a PoV on something, or you might take your doctor’s recommendation across the board. In either case, it’s important you think these through, and discuss them with your doctor and your family. For me, I wanted to delay induction till due date if the baby was doing fine, I was okay with an epidural and wanted to do what I could to avoid c-sec. Because I’d also discussed these with my doctor beforehand – so when we were in the thick of things – she kept informing me of my options and her recommendations.


Hypnobirthing is a positive approach to birthing. If you feel sceptical about it, as I did in the beginning, I’d encourage you to read up on it with an open mind and take as much from it as works for you. Labour is a unique experience, and tools that hypnobirthing provide can help you own it in a calm and confident manner.

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