If reports are to be believed, Middleton practised hypnobirthing during all her labours, a technique that aims to remove fear, and in turn, considerably reduce the pain associated with childbirth.
In order to understand everything there is to know about hypnobirthing, Mamamia spoke to Melissa Spilsted, a clinical hypnotherapist and director of Hypnobirthing Australia.
“I have a friend in the UK who is very prominent in hypnobirthing circles,” Spilsted tells Mamamia exclusively, “and she provided Kate Middleton with hypnobirthing resources with her first birth.”
Hypnobirthing, Spilsted tells Mamamia, “is really just a fancy word for a positive birthing experience.”
It utilises hypnosis (which is just like relaxation or meditation) with birthing in an attempt to dispel anxieties and fears.
There are many variations of hypnobirthing all over the world, with Spilsted’s being the leading hypnobirthing course in Australia which is taught in major hospitals.
In her course, the Hypnobirthing Australia Program, there are four cornerstones which include; building knowledge, developing tangle tools, working with support people such as caregivers or birth partners, and preparation.
“It’s about having an understanding of the physiological process of birth,” Spilsted says.
“So when you’re experiencing the intensity of childbirth, you’re not going to freak out…. so you actually know what’s happening. What muscles are having the biggest workout of their life, and you can feel the baby moving down the birth path. You can work with your body rather than against it.”
Spilsted explains there’s also an important hormonal process taking place, and by understanding it, we can “create an environment conducive to releasing endorphins and oxytocin and other important hormones for birth.”
Hypnobirthing focuses on keeping women calm, so they’re not releasing chemicals like catecholamine, which Spilsted says actually prevents the good hormones from being released.
“That can make our birth slower and harder and our muscles tense up, and it can restrict blood flow to our baby,” she says.
In order to stay calm once the intensity of childbirth kicks in, Spilsted says there are a number of tangible tools like self-hypnosis, visualisation, acupressure and massage that work to keep women and their partners “in the zone”.
Preparation for birth, Spilsted says, is just like “any athlete training for a major event.”
Like a sportsperson, a woman in labour needs to “surrender and let go, and rely on the preparation they’ve already done. And then everything just flows.”
Many women share their experience of hypnobirthing on the Hypnobirthing Australia website, detailing how they felt in control, calm, empowered and accomplished.
“It was easily the best day of my entire life. I was on such a high for days and felt invincible…” one woman writes.
Some commentators have suggested hypnobirthing might have contributed to Middleton’s calm and composed demeanour, holding Prince Louis outside St Mary’s hospital, only hours after having delivered him.