What is ‘Birthskills’? by Natalie Burgess
Pregnancy is a very special time in a woman’s life. It is a time of great excitement, but also one of apprehension about the unknown of labor and birth. BirthSkills is a program, based on HypnoBirthing concepts, created by Dr Shari Read, that focuses on educating the expectant couple, promoting an understanding of the birthing process, increasing confidence and self awareness. The aim of BirthSkills is healthy mum and healthy baby.
HypnoBirthing was first introduced in America by Marie Mongan, a clinical hypnotherapist and mother, who believes in natural and gentle birth. The HypnoBirthing Program was developed in 1989 by Marie, and is based on the work of Obstetrician, Dr Grantly-Read. HypnoBirthing is an education led program, teaching women and their partners about the uterus, hormones and the birth process, reducing fear and tension, encouraging confidence and minimizing discomfort.
Hypnosis is simply defined as a state of attention that allows for relaxation, promoting internal focus and minimizing external or peripheral stimuli. An example of self hypnosis that we all experience is day dreaming. Hypnosis for birth reduces medical intervention, pain relief, and the length of labor, and promotes a calm environment and enhances the work of the uterus and hormones in labor.
BirthSkills educates the expectant couple, increasing their knowledge of the process of labor and birth. The BirthSkills program works through the role of the uterus and the hormonal interactions that occur in late pregnancy, labor and birth, encouraging the couple to become comfortable with the ‘walk’ of labor , and creating a belief that the mother-to-be can work in harmony with her body and remain calm and in control.
BirthSkills encourages the expectant couple to work together, identifying their fears surrounding birth and parenthood, working together towards a positive and empowering birth experience. Everyone has a different perception of what they would like birth to be, and BirthSkills aids a couple in their birth choices and what will work for them. The BirthSkills program informs the expectant couple of all of their birthing choices, providing them with their own personal ‘toolbox’ for labor, birth and into parenthood.
The next step in the BirthSkills program is to learn relaxation principles and techniques. A relaxed, laboring woman facilitates optimal functioning of the uterus and promotes the balance of hormones. The Progressive Relaxation technique is a starting point for the program, and as the couple become familiar with the work in self relaxation they can confidently move onto relaxation and breathing techniques helpful for labor and birth.
Pregnancy, birth and labor can be an overwhelming experience, but with preparation, knowledge and confidence you can have a positive, empowering and enjoyable birth.
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