Sunday, 20 March 2016

What are my chances of a natural birth?

When teaching my hypnobirthing classes here in Greenwich, the likelihood of a natural birth is amongst the largest concerns.  Obviously this would be the case, and people come to learn about hypnobirthing because they'd like a natural birth.

People hear a lot of horror stories about birth from family, friends, TV and movies, and even perfect strangers. No wonder parents-to-be are often so fearful of birth, and hypnobirthing helps them get rid of that fear. 

Individuals and the media alike enjoy a dramatic tale. And often the stories that we hear exaggerate the birth process, turning it into a medical emergency in our minds. Indeed, some women attempt to outdo each other with their tales of enduring birth. 

However, for the majority of women, pregnancy and birth are not medical events.  These are natural processes that we've been doing this since the beginning of time. Not only is the female body perfectly designed for growing and birthing a baby, but the birth process is usually a gradual process with little drama, except the ultimate moment of finally meeting one's baby face-to-face.

A pregnant woman is usually at her best in terms of health during pregnancy: eating well for baby, looking after herself, getting checked out regularly by midwife, etc.  We are a healthy society, well-nourished, sheltered, with a good health care system, etc. We enjoy the best possible conditions for healthy pregnancies and good births.

So why the belief in the the possible negative outcomes of birth?  A culture of negative birth stories informs our thinking.  However, the facts and figures tell a very different story.  As  I tell parents-to-be every month in my hypnobirthing classes, the statistical likelihood is that you will have a normal natural birth; to which the chart below testifies. These figures are from a recent study, comparing birth outcomes of non-hypnobirthing parents and hypnobirthing parents:

So, you see, the greatest likelihood is indeed a normal, natural birth. With hypnobirthing, chances of that are 20% greater, and interventions (including instrumental delivery and c-section) are dramatically reduced. 

Thankfully, a cultural shift does seem to be happening, and many women are seeing  that they can take birth back and embrace it for the empowering and beautiful experience it is.  We do still have television programmes (including a very popular documentary series) which tend to show the most dramatic moments; and that does, of course, make for good TV. 

However, more and more women are speaking out about their positive birth experiences, including on the ZenBirth website:

If you'd like to tell your good birth story here, become a member of this blog and tell us your positive birth story by commenting below.  

Gina xx