What is Hypnosis?

There are many misconceptions about hypnosis. Put simply, hypnosis is when your focus is directed inwards on one thing, to the exclusion of all else, so can happen as often as when you day dream, for example, or when you watch a flickering flame in a fire and become lost in the moment, or when you become absorbed in a good book or film. Often people associate hypnosis with stage hypnosis where people are made to do silly things like pretend to be a chicken or bark like a dog! They appear to be in a sleep-like state, unaware of their actions or their surroundings. In fact, with hypnosis and hypnobirthing, you are fully in control of your actions all of the time. You can bring yourself out of hypnosis at any moment. You are also aware of your surroundings. You do not have to go into some deeply relaxed state for hypnosis to be effective. Equally, if you are so relaxed that you look and feel like you are asleep, hypnosis will work just as well. The subconscious mind is still listening to the words.


I describe hypnosis like a telescope into your mind. When you are in a relaxed state you become more suggestible to words. For example, using positive words about birthing during hypnosis, will help you to let go of any negative thoughts about birth that you might have acquired in life and be holding subconsciously. All thoughts are taken in by the brain and processed by the subconscious mind, which then has a chemical and physiological effect on the body at a cellular level. Last thing at night is a good time to have positive thoughts because you go to sleep processing them at a subconscious level.

We can look at the mind like an iceberg. The conscious mind, the brain, is the part of the iceberg that sits above the water responsible for only 5% of our behaviour, whereas the subconscious mind is the larger part of the iceberg beneath the surface, responsible for 95% of our behaviour. The conscious mind is the critical part of the mind, the here and now, the analytical and logical, whereas the subconscious mind is the instinctive part of our mind. It is the filing cabinet of all of our memories, experiences and beliefs held at a cellular level. It is responsible for our emotions, which explains why we can feel without really knowing why, and also for all the physiological functions of the body (regulating our heart rate, breathing, digestion etc.). The subconscious mind takes control of daily automatic movements without our conscious awareness for example driving yourself to work in the morning on autopilot.

Working directly with the subconscious mind through hypnosis can make profound changes mentally, emotionally and physically. It is the subconscious mind that we need to change if we have picked up phobias, fears, anxieties or bad habits on our journey through life. In the case of hypnobirthing, we are using hypnosis to unravel all of the negative thoughts that might be held at a subconscious level about birth to help women feel more at ease and calm as they approach their birthing day.

You can communicate effectively to the subconscious mind with imagery, which is why in hypnobirthing we use visualisations during birth to help the body. For example, the opening blossom to symbolise the cervix or the vaginal outlet opening, or inflating an imaginary balloon in the uterus during a surge/contraction.

For more information about Hypnobirthing, visit www.togetherbirthing.com.

Emma Harwood-Jones, Hypobirthing Practitioner, Together Birthing

When Special Circumstances arise, Hypnobirthing can still help

When special circumstances arise, hypnobirthing can still help you have a calm and relaxed experience as well as make informed decisions. Edie Rose Collins was born on the Wednesday 17th Feb a healthy 8lb 6oz exactly 1 week after my due date. Unfortunately she had other ideas on how this birth was going to go as when my waters broke on the Tuesday afternoon there was lots of meconium. Once in hospital we were placed on the labour ward and on constant monitoring and were unable to use the pool. The mobile monitor was in use but the midwife’s were really great at helping me to be as mobile as possible within the room. It was decided that she needed to come out quicker than we were going and after taking the time to asses the options and risks of not having the artificial drip we decided it was the safest option for the baby and also reduced the chances of needing a c-section.

The hypnobirthing techniques were invaluable at keeping me calm – the midwives were quite surprised at how we were managing and they also supported in breathing baby out rather than pushing. It became apparent that Edie needed to come out even quicker so I also had to have an episiotomy & forceps as the shoulders were completely stuck and the umbilical cord was around her neck.

I found it so invaluable having my partner involved. Jez was an absolute star in keeping me focused on my breathing and using the techniques to make sure we both stayed calm despite the circumstances.

Natalie & Jez, Amersham

How Your Birth Partner Can Help You the Best!

The most important part of being a birth partner is managing to stay calm and confident, no matter what the situation, as well as giving you plenty of reassurance along the way. This is because mum will mirror your emotional state during labour and birth. If you are anxious, she will feel anxious too.

There are many different birthing prompts that partners can use to remind mum to stay calm and relaxed and to give her encouragement. These vary depending on the stage of labour but include phrases such as:-

“Body limp with total relaxation and peace.”

“Trust your body; long, deep breaths.”

“Body limp, shoulders limp, chest relaxed.”

“Opening with each new sensation.”

”Follow the lead of your baby and your body.

“Gently, softly, breathe love down to your baby.”

Birth partner

With hypnobirthing, there are various anchors that birth partners can use to prompt a deeper relaxation such as their hand pressing down on your shoulder, prompting a key word such as ‘lavender’ or your chosen birth colour or prompting visualisations such as an opening blossom or inflating a balloon in your uterus during contractions (surges). Birth partners should become familiar with the hypnobirthing breathing techniques so that they can remind mum to do them, if necessary.

Birth partners will be mum’s advocate for the birth plan, asking appropriate questions when necessary, so it is important that they know what the birth preferences are. They will need to ask questions to weigh up the risks verses the benefits of any medical intervention, if it is suggested:-

Benefits – what are the benefits?

Risks – what are the risks?

Alternatives – are there any natural alternatives?

Instinct – what is your instinct telling you?

Nothing? – what if we were to do nothing and wait for a while?

Birth partners’ role is to set up the right environment for birth with dimly lit lighting, comfort zone music playing, relaxation and birth affirmation recordings playing, covering the clock to avoid any time keeping, and in the case of a home water birth, keeping the temperature of the birth pool at the right level.

Physically, birth partners can help enormously by giving light touch massage before, during and after contractions (surges). This will help with the release of endorphins, the body’s natural tranquiliser, by producing a massive stimulation in the nerves just below the surface of the skin which overwhelms the nervous system with a message of pleasure from the brain blocking out any messages of pain to the nervous system.

Other physical support might include walking with mum and being her leaning post during the contractions (surges) so that she can lean forward or supporting her if she is squatting or even just being a lap to rest on during hands and knee positions.

Caregiving is another important role, which includes providing mum with cool facecloths on her forehead or neck, keeping her warm, placing pillow and cushions where needed for comfort, reminding her to go to the toilet, keeping her hydrated and fed to keep up blood sugar levels because without food and fluid labour slows down.

Birth partners have a crucial role to play during labour and birth, to support mum psychologically, emotionally, and physically with a calm and confident manner and the frequent assurance that all is going well.

Choose a birth partner that you trust wholeheartedly and who will support you without question.

Emma Harwood-Jones, Hypnobirthing Practitioner, Together Birthing

Falling in Love With Your Baby in the Womb with Pre-natal bonding

You can connect with your unborn baby in the womb with pre-natal bonding in many ways. It’s never too late to start. Babies respond differently to different sounds and activities through their movement, and studies have shown that babies often react positively to gentle vibrations, music, voices, light, warmth, touch and even humour. Any gentle, intentionally initiated interaction will help with pre-natal bonding. Studies have found that babies love the sound of their parent’s voices, especially when sung to and often respond with gentle moving action. Daily conversations and positive birth affirmations read to your baby are a lovely way to connect. Having a playful conversation using touch can also be a wonderfully bonding experience – gently rubbing, squeezing, patting, pressing and massaging in response to your baby’s movement. Research has also found that babies exposed to soft music in the womb were calmer, happier and better adjusted to life outside the womb and they also slept better.

Baby in the womb with pre-natal bonding

Studies have found that babies love the sound of their parent’s voices

So How do we Know that Babies in the Womb are Aware?

Thanks to research into the pre-natal development of babies, which was advanced in the late 1970s and early 80s, it is now believed that individual consciousness exists from the moment there is a living cell, so it is there at conception and within the embryo. The subconscious mind is imprinted by emotional encounters and the memory of these experiences is held in our cells – These deep early memories can be accessed later on in life through hypnosis.

Dr David Chamberlain’s studies found that babies do remember their births. In his book entitled ‘Babies Remember Birth’, he was able to show how the imprint of babies’ birth experiences is carried throughout their lives. Researchers have said that when people have recalled what happened, it goes as far back as the pre-natal period, way before they had the brain support to remember.

Studies observe babies through the use of ultarasound equipment. Dr Chamberlain discovered that babies develop their own physical exercise routines in the womb and are fully aware of their surroundings and their parents, as early as 20 weeks. Dr Chamberlain states, that “from all our studies we know that babies are far more sophisticated that we had ever given them credit for. We didn’t think babies could sense anything. We didn’t think babies had the brains to know what the senses were telling them. Babies seem to have a working mind, which is part of their consciousness. It’s not something that develops in stages. It’s quite simply part of who they are.” Knowing this, it is only natural that babies should thrive on interaction and socialisation.

The Benefit of Pre-Natal Bonding on Babies’ Health

Dr Thomas Verny, who wrote the book ‘The Secret Life of the Unborn Child’, studied the effect of pre-natal bonding and birth environment on babies’ health, learning ability and their relationships and found that in addition to developing physically, babies are developing mentally, emotionally and psychically and are affected by emotional encounters in the womb.

A study at the University of Salzburg showed the benefits of pre-natal bonding on babies’ health – fewer premature births, fewer low birth weight babies, an increase in the socialisation of babies and better general overall health.

Does Stress in Mothers Effect Babies?

On the flip side, studies have also shown that a baby’s heart rate increases dramatically when exposed to loud or disturbing noises, screaming or emotional distress. Developments in neuroscience have helped us to understand that if stress in the mother remains high over a prolonged period of time, it can cause the sympathetic response system or fear fight flight response to become permanently wired for over-sensitivity, affecting the baby’s reactions and ability to cope with stress later in life. Put simply, the less stress in pregnancy, the better equipped the baby will be psychologically.

Love is the Most Important Emotion for Babies

Ongoing studies are attempting to determine the degree to which a baby in the womb is affected by these emotional encounters, but what has become very clear is that babies’ sense of wellbeing and self-esteem benefit enormously from being made to feel welcome, wanted and loved, right from the very start. Love sends out a message of security to your baby and is by far the most important emotion for your unborn child – both the love that you share as parents and the love that you feel for your baby.

Hypnobirthing will give your baby the best possible birthing experience on the day through the use of relaxation, breathing, visualisation and hypnosis fear release techniques. Visit www.togetherbirthinng.com for more information on my courses.

Emma Harwood-Jones, Hypnobirthing Practitioner



‘What Babies Want, An Exploration of the Consciousness of Infants’ – Documentary by Debby Takikawa

‘The Secret Life of The Unborn Child’ – Dr Thomas Verny, 1982

‘Babies Remember Birth’ – Dr David Chamberlain, 1989

We had the home birth we wanted thanks to Hypnobirthing!

We had the home birth we wanted, thanks to hypnobirthing. Our beautiful daughter Amelia was born on 8 November weighing 7 lb 10 at 00.45. For us the Hypnobirthing went really well. My Nan was staying with us for a couple of days and we were out for dinner on Friday evening when I had my first surge. She worries a lot and didn’t want to know when I went into labour so I didn’t say anything until that night when we went to bed when I told Ross that the surges had started and we were going to have a baby!!

I slept for a few hours but then started with light touch massage. As the night went on the intensity and frequency of the surges increased. At 6 AM we woke my Nan and broke the news, we called my dad and he came to collect her. At this point people still didn’t know I was having a home birth. We also called my mum, she knew I was having her at home and she made her way over. She actually spent most of the time downstairs whilst I was in labour but I wouldn’t have been without her. She was a great support for Ross and kept him fed and watered. About 11 AM we rang the midwife to let her know and she came over about midday. I was still in the early stages so she went off to do a clinic and came back a few hours later.

I found the bedroom most comfortable I stood a lot leaning on a pile of pillows over the bed. Very early on I started the surge breathing and through every surge Ross read one of the birthing partners paragraphs. His voice really focused me. I lost track of time and I really don’t know when the surges started to increase. About 9 PM we had a change of midwives I really connected with the first one so it’s a shame she had to leave. The next midwives were good but probably too focused on procedure and forgot about my Hypnobirthing sometimes. I got to the point where I realised I was ready for birth breathing, Amelia was going to arrive.

Unfortunately she had a hand up to her head which was making the last bit of bit difficult, she was rocking back and forward. It was then that the midwives said that I have been going for a while and we really needed Amelia to arrive. My energy levels were low and I didn’t have confidence in my body so I went their way which wasn’t so bad, I still carried on the birth breathing but there was a lot more pushing than I would’ve liked. They were great at getting me to try different positions. I can truly say that the only painful part was just when her head was delivered (This was probably because she had her hand up to her head). I actually gave birth on my back, well sort of on my side really. I had been more comfortable standing and crouching but I think the way I was just wasn’t working so the midwife suggested lying on my side and held one leg in position. It was the only time I swore during labour I said “well this isn’t going to fucking work” but to be fair it was very comfortable and worked really well for me and Amelia was born very shortly after.

She was put straight on my stomach when she was born but she couldn’t get to my chest as the cord was too short. After she was born they noticed I was bleeding quite a lot and the placenta wasn’t delivering quickly so I had the injection, whatever it’s called. Once the placenta was delivered I was still bleeding quite a lot, they decided I was haemorrhaging so unfortunately an ambulance had to be called and I went into hospital. By the time I got there I had actually stopped bleeding (it was caused by a ruptured vessel). I needed a small amount of stitching (very minor, so healed quickly) and then we got a bit stuck in the system because I didn’t know how much blood I had lost so they wanted to do a test and get the results back which took hours in the end and I had to threaten to discharge myself, I wanted to take my baby home!

It was so bizarre arriving home to the bedroom that Amelia was born in!

Hypnobirthing and homebirthing was great for us. We had the home birth we wanted and Hypno Birthing really worked. We didn’t practice enough to use all the techniques but we started really early in labour. Things that worked best for me were:-
– the 3 paragraphs for the birthing partner to use, (Ross said bits of these through every surge and I found it really helpful)
– the music (i had the music on the whole time and helped me focus),
– the breathing (easier to get in to than I thought)
– light touch massage (Ross did this at every surge)
We had the home birth we wanted, thanks to Hypnobirthing – its ‘s so worth it 🙂
Layla, Hemel Hempstead

The Effectiveness of using Hypnosis to turn Breech Babies

For any mums out there with breech babies, I have just come across the results of a study by Dr. Lewis Mehl Madrona from May, 1992, University of Vermont Medical School, on turning breech presentations using a hypnosis script, which you might be interested to know about, if you didn’t know already.

The study included 100 women who were referred from practicing obstetricians and an additional 100 who responded to an advertisement. Only women carrying their babies in breech position at 36 weeks gestation or more were included.

Dr. Mehl-Madrona used a hypnosis script with the 100 women in the study group and there was a comparison group of 100 women who had no hypnotherapy, though some did have ECV (external cephalic version).

In the study group the Mothers, while in hypnosis, were led through guided imagery to bring them into a deep relaxation. They were asked to visualise their babies easily turning and then visualise their babies in the correct vertex position. The Mothers visualised the uterus becoming soft and pliable to allow the baby sufficient room to re-position. The Mother was asked to talk to her baby, and the therapist encouraged the baby to release itself from the position and to turn itself downward for birth.

The study ended with 81% of the breech babies with the hypnotherapy turning spontaneously from breech to vertex presentation as opposed to only 26% babies who turned spontaneously without hypnotherapy. An additional 20% turned with ECV.

It was originally thought that each Mother would require approximately ten hours of hypnotherapy in order to accomplish the desired result. As the study unfolded, the average number of hours with each woman was only four and half hours, and only half of the successful 81 turns required only one session.

On the HypnoBirthing (Mongan Method) course there is a specific script that we can offer mums for breech presentations before they go for an ECV. I really think its worth mums knowing the effectiveness of hypnosis to turn breech presentations as it’s a very safe way to do it and sometimes with ECVs the baby sometimes turns back to the breech position. When the turning of the breech baby is achieved through hypnosis, the baby usually remains in the vertex position. Mothers with babies in breech position can also be helped with fear release therapy on the course where they let go of fears concerning their pregnancy, birthing, and parenting through hypnosis.

10 Reasons to Try HypnoBirthing

  1. Helps to reduce and even eliminate the fear-tension-pain syndrome through positive birth expectancy, fear release therapy and relaxation techniques
  2. Helps birthing muscles to work more effectively to open the cervix through relaxation techniques and uses natural ways to encourage the release of oxytocin to enhance surges and endorphins to provide a natural tranquilliser for the body
  3. Best opportunity for a natural birth reduces and often eliminates the need for pain relieving drugs and much less likely to need medical intervention
  4. Still a very useful tool if medical assistance is needed for the safety of the mother or baby, as it keeps mother and baby relaxed, calm and mother is likely to enjoy a speedier recovery to follow
  5. Allows mothers to conserve energy during labour and leaves mothers and babies feeling more energised, connected and alert afterwards through the release of endorphins
  6. Empowers parents to ask the right questions and make informed decisions should the birth take an unexpected turn for a more positive birthing experience
  7. Gives the birthing partner an integral role in the birthing experience, supporting mum and helping her to stay relaxed using prompts and light touch massage
  8. Embraces and promotes pre-natal and post-natal bonding
  9. Teaches calm breathing and surge breathing to stay relaxed during labour and birth breathing for the birthing stage to gently nudge the baby into world without the need for forced pushing
  10. Self-hypnosis is a very natural and easy skill to learn you are fully in control and aware at all times and can bring yourself out of it at any time it is a very useful skill to have for the rest of your life (like meditation) as it can help you manage stress and anxiety

Welcome to my HypnoBirthing blog

Hi my name is Emma, I did HypnoBirthing for the birth of my second son Freddie and had such a calm and instinctive birthing experience that I wanted to help other expectant couples by training as a HypnoBirthing Practitioner with the HypnoBirthing Institute.

This blog is here to tell you about HypnoBirthing and share HypnoBirthing stories and news with you. Despite the fancy name, HypnoBirthing is actually just about simple relaxation, to let go of fear and tension and reduce pain and discomfort during labour. By using breathing techniques and positive birth visualisations, whilst listening to music and birth affirmations, you are able to calm your body and mind to a state of self-hypnosis. Using hypnosis for childbirth actually makes a lot of sense once you understand the science behind it.

Have you heard of the fear-tension-pain syndrome? Its the theory discovered by Dr Grantley Dick-Read in the 1930s, which explains that when the mind perceives fear in childbirth, the birthing muscles and arteries in the uterus become tense and constrict, which causes pain. Without stress or fear, the muscles are able to work effectively together as nature intended. When the body is fully relaxed, wonderful endorphins are released, the bodys natural tranquiliser, which together assist a more comfortable labour and birth.

Self hypnosis is very easy to do and allows you to be more in control of your body. Its similar to meditating or mindfulness or even just doing a relaxation at the end of a yoga class. You are always fully conscious and aware of your surroundings, you can have a conversation if you wish, and you can bring yourself out of it at any time. Its like a telescope into your subconscious mind, where you file all your past experiences, memories, perceptions and beliefs. You can connect directly with your subconscious mind and release any fears you may hold about what a healthy normal birth is like. By listening to a fear release script using self-hypnosis, you release any negative thoughts you might hold about childbirth from your own experiences, stories you might have heard or films and TV programmes you might have seen, so they no longer affect your birthing experience.

Although most of us would clearly like to have a natural birth without any medical intervention or drugs, there are special circumstances that may arise, when this is just not possible, for the safety and well being of you and your baby. HypnoBirthing will still help enormously with your birth, by enabling you and your birthing partner to stay calmer, more positive and make more informed decisions. The course teaches you to respect the advice you are given by the medical team but also to ask the right questions so that you fully understand the situation and feel more at ease, should your birth take an unexpected turn. Birth should not be a traumatic event, even if there are special circumstances which require you to have an epidural or a cesarean birth.

With HypnoBirthing, your birthing partner will learn how to be involved throughout the labour and birth through techniques such as light touch massage, giving you a more comfortable and positive experience for everyone involved mum, baby and birthing partner.