I write this as possibly one of the most cynical people you'll meet. I'm at the foremost a very practical and logical person, so when I told people who know me that I was doing a hypnobirthing course, and now that I teach it, they're really surprised.
When I'm asked about Hypnobirthing in more detail, I'm greeted with a rolling of the eyes, or a dismissive giggle or something along the lines of "you don't really believe in that do you?". It's so frustrating! Why aren't women allowed to challenge stereotypical scenarios and believe in the positive.
Yes, there are heartbreaking birth trauma stories out there. These are real and those incredible, brave women need support. The NHS is working hard in so many areas to provide this support, as are many private groups (please reach out to me if this is you and I can point you in the right direction). But on the whole, most people talk about the pain and the poop (yes, you often do poo yourself but I promise you, you really won't give a s**t - pardon the pun).
Here's a couple of reassuring pointers to help you when you're made to feel silly for believing there might be another way...
Hypnobirthing is antenatal education
How many times have you been prompted by your midwife about the NHS antenatal classes? How many of your friends have signed up for NCT? One of the most common misconceptions about a hypnobirthing class is that it's just hippy breathing, when infact it's a full education on what the body goes through in labour and birth. The physiology and psychology of it and signposting to all the relevant medical information and resources to empower you with birth knowledge...sounds like an antenatal class right?
Who doesn't need relaxation in their lives?
A big part of hypnobirthing is relaxation scripts and audios, and believe me they are lovely (I use them even though I'm not pregnant as do many of my friends). Life is so so stressful sometimes (especially at the moment in the middle of a global health crisis!), everything can feel so overwhelming and anxiety is becoming a part of so many more people's lives. Atrip to a spa every day isn't very practical for most people, so why not indulge in a little mental R&R to help you unwind. It's just a bonus that they actually help to reframe negative birth connotations embedded in the subconscious and provide a relaxation trigger to use in labour.
A lot of people's opinions will actually be more about them than you
There are so many emotions attached to becoming a mother and these tend to stick with people for a long time. It's far easier for your friend who maybe felt out of control with her birth and just 'went with the flow', then had a negative experience, to assume that's the only way. When you feel judged about your choice, remember misery loves company.
Most importantly, try to remember no one else really matters
There are so many positive movements out there now about female individuality, body positivity, female empowerment. In so many areas, we are now being shown it's ok to follow our own journey, whether that be embracing our lumps and bumps or chasing that career goal, all without worrying about other people's judgement. Apply this belief to birth preparation. All you are doing is making a choice that feels right for you and following it through. Preparing for your labour in the best possible way for you and looking after your mental health around this massive life event. Good for you!
Finally, f you're still flustered and the negativity and fear of 'pain' gets into your head...
Labour is a different kind of pain
Yes, surges in labour are uncomfortable, they are powerful and can be intense, but let's reframe this. The discomfort you experience is muscular endurance, like a really intense work out and DOMs afterwards. Your uterus muscles go through a lot, and when they are working this hard, sometimes without adequate fuel and without the optimum cocktail of hormones to make them perform most efficiently, they can get tired and discomfort increases. Imagine running a 10k on an empty stomach and telling yourself the whole way how much you hate it over and over again. Then imagine having fuelled up properly, taking energy shots regularly and listening to a banging playlist the whole way. One scenario would be miserable and the other would feel like you're superwomen. Birth is the same.
Another thing to remember is that muscle 'pain' doesn't trigger the same nerve response as pain from say a burn or a cut. When you burn or cut yourself, your brain's response will be to embed that and make it a learned behaviour not to repeat, triggering an instinct to protect you. If this was the same with birth, there would only ever be single children.
You do you, always.