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Hypnobirthing: What is the labour technique reportedly used by Kate Middleton during all three births?

It's thought to reduce pain and encourage a shorter first stage of labour

Sarah Young
Thursday 29 April 2021 10:50 BST
Duchess and Duke of Cambridge step out from Lindo Wing with new son

The Duchess of Cambridge yesterday gave birth to her third child on St George’s Day.

After being admitted to the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital in London, Kate Middleton reportedly endured a five-hour labour, without pain relief, before delivering her baby boy, weighing 8lb 7oz at one minute past 11.

And just hours later, the royal couple posed on the steps outside the central London hospital where well-wishers gathered to celebrate the Royal family’s new arrival.

So, what is the secret behind her seemingly effortless birth? While there is no confirmation of Middleton’s birthing style, sources say that the new mother used hynopbirthing for all three of her births.

But what is it and does it really make labour easier?

What is hypnobirthing?

A technique adopted by celebrity mothers including Angelina Jolie and Giovanna Fletcher, London Hypnobirthing describes it as "a well-known, logical and effective form of antenatal preparation" that can help to alleviate stress and discomfort.

It’s thought to prevent the body from going into “fight or flight” mode and instead put the mother back in control of the birthing experience.

Hypnobirthing is based on the work of Dr Grantley Dick-Reid, an English obstetrician, who published his book, Childbirth Without Fear, in 1933. He hypothesised that when a woman is scared during labour, blood and oxygen are diverted away from the uterus and therefore the fear and tension cause pain.

In comparison, when a woman remains calm, the uterine muscles relax and the body produces oxytocin and endorphins, which are nature’s pain relief.

Experts claim it can help reduce pain, encourage a shorter first stage of labour and less fear and anxiety after the birth.

What does it involve?

Ultimately, hypnobirthing is a combination of breathing, deep relaxation and visualisation techniques used alongside positive thought and language.

Arguably the most important element though is educating women so that they can understand the physiology of birth and, as a result, release any fear and feel confident and empowered.

Does it mean you don’t need pain relief?

While hypnobirthing is thought to reduce the amount of pain a woman endures throughout labour it does not necessarily replace the need for pain relief and can be used alongside anything the hospital might offer from gas and air to epidural.

What are the common misconceptions about hypnobirthing?

For many women, the idea of hypnobirthing can conjure negative images of people chanting but in actual fact, it’s a technique that can be adopted by everyone and is based on logic of how the mind and body work.

It also doesn’t require you to be part of any particular belief system, or have prior experience.

Despite what the name might suggest, you won’t be hypnotised when facilitating hypnobirthing. While some associate the word with being in a trance or asleep, in actual fact you will be awake and fully aware of what is happening around, you. Instead, the term is used more to describe the atmosphere of calm relaxation that the technique creates.

This article was originally published in April 2018

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