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When we all learn a new skill, we, as teachers can spend so much time absorbed in learning and understanding that we forget about giving ourselves time and space to reflect and appreciate what we have learnt. During hypnobirthing courses, couples are given information and are given the chance to think, practice and understand what they have been taught which is very important when preparing to use the techniques. It is really important as teachers that we ‘practice what we preach’ and do the same. After teaching my most recent course, I felt that I had made far too many assumptions on why dads were attending a hypnobirthing course, that they were just doing it to ‘keep their partner happy’ and would sit there during the sessions with a face full of scepticism.
How wrong was I?
What I discovered very quickly, from a very open and honest expectant dad is that he was petrified about the responsibility of supporting his partner in labour and experienced real fear when taking a tour of their birthing centre. This ‘not knowing what to do’ was keeping him from really enjoying the excitement of expecting their first baby together, he had visions of being ‘the spare part’ on the outside of an inner circle surrounding the love of his life which would include midwives and doctors but not him.
What a revelation!
I felt very privileged to be able to listen to, and appreciate this dads genuine fears and concerns and offer him some real tools and techniques to support him and help him to understand how he ‘fitted in’ when his partner went into labour. Most significantly it was helping him to recognise that he was actually the most important person in the room as he was supporting the expectant mum to give birth to their precious baby, creating a calm and safe environment to allow her to focus on giving birth confidently and instinctively, knowing and understanding what they had decided together.
What difference did the hypnobirthing course make?
You would be amazed! Far from being a course focused on disseminating information, it is a course focused on building confidence, and allowing couples to make choices. The birth partners desire to protect their loved one is recognised, practical tools and the need to ‘do something’ is also acknowledged and satisfied with a variety of practical tools and solution focused questioning which is designed to allow the couple to make an informed decision during labour and after the birth of their baby. What I discovered was how relaxed and calm the dads became themselves as the sessions progressed, they knew what they could do, and far from feeling overwhelmed, they felt excited that they were going to have an active role to play.
The feedback I received from two hypnobirthing dads really summed it up;
‘As an expectant dad the course gives you a worthwhile and active role during labour. I now feel that I won’t be just a ‘spare part’ but can genuinely improve my partners labour experience’
‘I feel I have attained a skills which will help my wife have a natural, relaxed birth. The course also put my mind at rest in terms of asking the midwives questions and understanding what is going on. excellent course’
And finally.. Just as hypnobirthing was a revelation for these expectant dads, and changed their whole view on their role during labour and birth, so it also highlighted to me the importance of looking after the expectant dads too and enabling them the opportunity to be part of this amazing positive birth experience. We all have something to learn from every situation we face, and teaching my lovely couples hypnobirthing is no exception.