How can hypnobirthing be used for a caesarean birth?

There’s a common misconception that hypnobirthing can only be used for vaginal births and not for c-sections. But that’s just not true! Hypnobirthing techniques can (and in our view should!) be used for any kind of birth. The primary goal of hypnobirthing is to create a calm internal dialogue. This down regulates the body’s nervous system, keeping you relaxed so your body can do what it needs to do. A positive C-section birth is all about being calm and focusing on meeting your baby, just like any other birth!So how can you achieve this?

Knowledge is power

Understanding the process and reasoning for a caesarean section can help you to feel more comfortable with the procedure overall. Whether the operation is planned or unplanned, you will have the opportunity to discuss the procedure and process with doctors at the time, but it can be more stressful if this conversation is happening during labour and you don’t have any knowledge up front. So, first of all, check out our article about c-sections so you have a good understanding of what’s involved.

If a caesarean is not your primary birth choice but is something that your medical team is suggesting, you may feel that you have a tough decision to make. Only you can make this decision, based on the medical information you are given, so we advocate using the BRAIN (Benefits, Risks, Alternative, Intuition, Nothing) acronym. It’s also helpful if your birth partner can use the same process, so we encourage you to discuss this in advance. This is all covered in our Hypnobirthing Pack if you would like more information.

Relaxation techniques for c-sections

Up-breathing is going to be your friend during a C-section. The theatre environment can be quite busy and any major surgery is enough to get your mind racing, so using your breathwork to calm you down is incredibly powerful. You can find free breathing tutorials on our YouTube page or learn the techniques in a guided way in our Hypnobirthing Pack.

The importance of your internal dialogue

Your internal dialogue is the key to remaining relaxed and enjoying that moment that you meet your baby. Oxytocin is really important during C-sections and will be supportive of your milk production, so you will want to create an environment that makes you feel good! It is true that there can be some limitations to making changes to the physical environment in theatre, but when you meet your practitioner before the operation, you can ask for reasonable adjustments. So think of each of the senses we talk about in hypnobirthing to generate those good vibes!

  1. Sound – You can listen to music of your choice, relaxation audios or positive affirmations to get you in the zone!Most theatres have modern speaker facilities where you can plug in your phone, so this is easy to arrange, but if this is not the case you should be able to play music quietly on your phone or through your headphones.

  2. Sight – Dimming theatre lighting is quite difficult, it is naturally bright and required to be able to safely carry out the procedure. Some theatres do have multiple light sources and obstetricians that are happy to work in dimmed lighting, but this can be a more difficult physical adjustment. If you are finding the lighting intense, closing your eyes, focusing on your birth partner and using your breathing techniques can be very helpful. You could also use an eye mask.

  3. Touch – The use of gentle touch of your head or arms can be utilised throughout the procedure, your birth partner can practice this in advance too.

  4. Smell – you can use aromatherapy oils, dabbing your wrists or soaking some cotton wool and taping it to your hospital gown.

  5. Taste –  Like we said, prepare with a big meal the night before and look forward to that tea and toast that’s coming your way!

Requests you can make for your c-section

  • Gentle caesareans

    Gentle caesareans are becoming increasingly common. They essentially aim to bring elements of a vaginal birth to c-sections. Here are a few ways you can do this.

  • Skin to skin contact – It is now normalised for babies to be put directly onto their parent’s chest after birth for immediate skin to skin contact. Your gown will be loose enough for you to have close contact.

  • Lowering drapes – Lowering the drapes, or screen between your upper and lower body, is easily done and becoming much more normalised. This means you can see your baby being born and the parents can be the first people to find out the sex of the baby

  • Delayed cord clamping – This is facilitated as standard at all births, where the baby is born without the need for resuscitation. It is usually about 2 minutes in theatre, there is the possibility at a vaginal birth for this to be much longer but in order to keep the baby warm and facilitate skin to skin while keeping the sterile environment protected, it is difficult to to allow this for longer in the current set up.

Remember, C-sections are simply a mode of birth and if they are right for you and your baby, you can make them a hugely positive experience.

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