Frequently asked questions...


What is hypnosis?

Can anyone enter hypnosis?


Will I lose control and become a zombie?


Will someone sit next to me during the birth, dangling a pocket watch?

I'm doing NCT / active birth classes / yoga classes - can I use hypnobirthing too?


Are midwives and hospitals supportive of hypnobirthing?


Is there scientific proof that hypnobirthing works?

Which birth hypnosis company should I choose? Are you regulated?


Do you recommend any hypnobirthing books or CDs?


Other providers claim they teach the 'original and best' hypnobirthing - is this true?


Can you promise me a pain-free birth?


Why don't you teach hypnoanaesthesia for birth?


How often should I practice during pregnancy?


Do I listen to the MP3s during the birth?


How do I download your birth hypnotherapy audio MP3s?


How do I know it's working?


I can't switch off, I keep getting distracted


I keep falling asleep during your MP3s, does this mean it's not working?


I don't drift off at all during your MP3s, does this mean it's not working?


Does my birth partner have to practice with me?


Can you attend my birth?




What is hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a completely natural, relaxing state, like daydreaming or meditation, where the 'busy' part of your mind quietens to help you focus, imagine and actively listen to positive suggestions that help to reprogramme your mind in a beneficial way. Ever been so absorbed in your thoughts that you can't remember much of the drive home? That's hypnosis - simply a state of relaxing imaginal absorption.
Try my free hypnobirthing taster session to find out for yourself!

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Can anyone use hypnosis?

Yes. Because it's a natural state of mind, everyone is capable of entering hypnosis if they want to. The more you do it, the better you get at doing it - just like learning any other skill. It's a myth that some people are unable to be hypnotised. However, if you have
epilepsy, a heart condition, narcolepsy or asthma you should consult with your GP first before having hypnotherapy. Never use hypnotherapy whilst operating heavy machinery (e.g. driving!) or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if you suffer from psychiatric or psychotic illnesses that distort your sense of reality.

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Will I lose control and become a zombie?

No. Popular depiction of stage hypnotism can make it appear as if the participants are entirely under the influence of the hypnotist, but essentially if they weren't happy to act like a chicken / bark like a dog / bite into a raw onion, etc, then they would just decline to do it (or not volunteer in the first place). Luckily such activities aren't useful for giving birth! Stage hypnosis can demonstrate the amazing power of the mind, but the showmanship element makes it seem like something it's not. Within the hypnotherapy setting, a person may come out of hypnosis any time at will, e.g. if their phone was ringing or they had to sneeze, etc. You are always totally in control. The experience of hypnosis is just relaxing and normal. You certainly don't feel as if you're zooming off to a parallel world, or having a spiritual out-of-body experience!


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Will someone sit next to me during the birth, dangling a pocket watch?

No! You will be using self-hypnosis to take yourself into a deep state of calm and focus during each contraction. Your birth partner(s) may assist you if you wish, by using certain practiced triggers, but essentially you are the one in control of switching off that busy part of your mind. The more you practice self-hypnosis during pregnancy by listening to my MP3s (or your partner reading their script), the better you get at going rapidly into hypnosis. With very regular practice this skill becomes more and more automatic, enabling you on the day of the birth to easily switch off, sink deep down and breathe calmly.


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I'm doing NCT / active birth / yoga classes - can I use hypnobirthing too?

Yes. Hypnobirthing goes well with all of the above. I don't teach that you have to lie still and be quiet throughout your birth. The most important thing is that you feel positive about birth so you can connect with and listen to your body's needs. Sometimes you'll want to be still, sometimes you'll want to move - that's fine! I think sometimes people think the term 'active birth' means you have to be pacing around the room the whole time - it doesn't. An active birth is simply a birth where you are not a passive recipient of medical care (a patient). 'Active birth' just means being in control of choices, your breathing, your position etc. Did you know that Janet Balaskas, the founder of the active birth movement, now teaches hypnobirthing too?!

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Are midwives and hospitals supportive of hypnobirthing?


Yes. Over the past few years awareness and understanding of the benefits of hypnobirthing has been widely accepted. The Royal College of Midwives suggest hypnobirthing as a coping strategy in their 'Ten top tips for birth' .


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Is there scientific proof that hypnobirthing works?

Yes. Although it's challenging to ensure homogeneity of techniques, various randomised controlled trials from all around the world have demonstrated that hypnobirthing (compared to non-hypnobirthing) may contribute to women having births that are shorter, more comfortable, more natural and also more satisfying (even if they had medical intervention) (research link).
We certainly know that relaxation in itself is very helpful during childbirth (research link). We achieve very positive results from our hypnobirthing survey too.

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Which birth hypnosis course should I choose? Are you regulated?


There is no legal requirement for hypnobirthing teachers to be trained or regulated. My hypnotherapy diploma exceeds the national occupational standards and as such I am with the CNHC - the Royal College of Midwives and Department of Health approved register of qualified hypnotherapists. The register is accredited by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, who report to Parliament and are also responsible for other professional bodies such as the GMC (doctors) and NMC (nurses and midwives). Furthermore, I am also trained to an HNC equivalent level in midwifery, and hold certificates in active birth, childbirth education and doula'ing. I have full professional, indemnity and public liability insurance.

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Do you recommend any other hypnobirthing books or CDs?

I provide everything you need including downloadable audio hypnosis sessions. If you're looking for birth book recommendations seek out those by midwife Ina May Gaskin and doctors Sarah J Buckley and Michel Odent.

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Others claim they teach the 'official' / original or best' hypnobirthing - is this true?

Don't be misled by marketing claims. There are many different companies and independent practitioners all over the world. The word 'hypnobirthing' is legally considered generic and as such describes any methods of preparing for birth using hypnosis. Origins date back to the early 1940s.

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Can you promise me a pain-free birth?

No, and anyone who does is lying. I do not teach that if a woman feels pain she has 'failed' at hypnobirthing. This is grossly unfair. The experience of a pain-free birth is definitely possible, especially if you have 0% fear about the natural sensations and can totally relax into them, but even so, it may still feel like what they would describe as pain at times to some women, despite having practiced hypnobirthing effectively. On the flip-side, the more you expect it to be painful, the more painful it will be, on a physiological level. Women can sometimes find it hard to balance this need for positive thinking with the desire to be prepared just incase. I find that most of my clients decide to adopt a sensible attitude of openness and curiosity about what the surges will feel like on the day.... and hey, there's always the epidural! Certainly trusting in your body and being able to switch off, let go, relax and breathe throughout helps a great deal, e.g. "I accept all of the natural sensations of birth". I find that most of my clients just want to be able to cope well with their contractions, as opposed to aiming for an orgasmic birth experience (though that's ok too!) Read some of our hypnobirthing stories to find out how they did.

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Why don't you teach hypnoanaesthesia for birth?

Hypnoanaesthesia is a very powerful and effective method of pain relief if it's done properly (e.g. several women in Iran, the US and China have undergone caesarean operations with no anaesthetic, just hypnoanaesthesia!) I do not teach you how to use it for childbirth because it could potentially mask pain felt by women who unexpectedly experience rare but potentially life-threatening events such as placental abruption, uterine rupture or true cephalopelvic disproportion. Despite all the positive thinking in the world, it's a fact of life that occasionally nature throws a spanner in the works and creates a genuine medical emergency. Severe pain is not normal. It's a sign that something is wrong and to get help. I also feel conflicted teaching on the one hand that the sensations of birth are "natural and you will cope", whilst teaching on the other "here's how to block it out and disassociate". Other hypnobirthing teachers may disagree with this stance, but having experienced the power of hypnoanaesthesia first hand - I would rather not risk it.


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How often should I practice during pregnancy?

It's up to you (there's no prescription as such) but as a general guideline, think about practicing at least two or three times a week before 34 weeks, and daily thereafter until you give birth. Practising can include using my hypnobirthing MP3s and practising with your birth partner.


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Do I listen to the MP3s during the birth?


Your two x 30 minute affirmations tracks are appropriate for using during the birth if you wish. You may also buy the birth music, which is the backing music to the other MP3s you've used a lot during pregnancy. Having the affirmations and / or music playing works as a powerful hypnotic trigger and helps you recall that all important state of positivity, calm and relaxation. The other 'standard' MP3s can be distracting as they're not designed to be used during birth. For example, the last thing you want to hear when beginning a contraction is me saying "and now in a moment we'll bring this session to an end"


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How do I download your birth hypnotherapy audio MP3s?

Signed-up parents-to-be are given an access username and password. For each MP3 there is a download link. Clicking on each link triggers the file to download. If you have an iPhone or iPad you might need to download the files to a computer first and sync your device afterwards. Or use a 3rd party app to save the MP3 files such as Documents 5 or Downloader

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How do I know it's working?

Sometimes people can worry about whether they're 'in hypnosis' properly, and if it's 'working'. The shortest explanation is - it's working if you're feeling more confident about the birth. Everyone experiences hypnosis a bit differently, but as long as you're actively listening to and agree with the suggestions, it's having an effect. Every time you enter hypnosis during pregnancy it becomes easier. As long as you've practiced regularly during pregancy, you can trust in your own self-hypnosis skills during the birth too.

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I can't switch off, I keep getting distracted

You don't need silence for self-hypnosis - It's not a Buddhist retreat! With practice and experience you'll learn to let go of and rise above any potential external or internal distractions. Beginners can sometimes feel frustrated if thoughts of their shopping list (for example) come to mind. The trick is to let that thought pass quickly through your mind, and return your attention to the sound of my voice. Otherwise you may spend all your time saying "shut-up!" to yourself and miss the whole session! Likewise, don't get hung up about any external noises. Just focus on my voice as the most important sound you hear.

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I keep falling asleep during your MP3s, does this mean it's not working?

No, it doesn't mean it's not working - especially if you wake up at the end when instructed to emerge from hypnosis (this means that your mind was still listening and you weren't actually asleep). But if you do genuinely fall into a deep sleep everytime you use the MP3s, stop listening to them in bed! Hypnotherapy is not the same as sleep. Some practitioners describe it as an intermediate state between being awake and asleep, where brainwaves slow down and the subconscious becomes more suggestible. Yet it's still most effective when you're actually listening to and agreeing with the suggestions you are hearing. So at least sometimes, make the time to practice when you're not so tired. Try not to drift off completely. This isn't a process of passive absorption.

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I don't drift off at all during your MP3s, does this mean it's not working?


No, it doesn't mean it's not working. Everyone experiences hypnosis a bit differently. Some people feel very aware of their surroundings and can almost recall every single word of a session, others say they almost forgot where they were and can't consciously remember everything. Either example and everything in between is completely normal. As long as your mind is mainly focused and listening to what's being said, that's all that matters.

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Does my birth partner have to practice with me?

No - feel free to practice in a way that works for both of you. Although there can be benefits to your birth partner reading a script to you regularly during pregnancy, and/or practicing your triggers together in rehearsing for the birth, if either of you are unwilling to do this, it isn't obligatory. Hypnobirthing is very effective using the audios alone.

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Can you attend my birth?

Possibly! If you live in Cornwall - visit my Cornwall doula package page for more info.

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