Interview with Sharon Mustard from the 'Hypnosis Training Academy':
What inspired you to become a hypnobirthing practitioner?
I qualified as a hypnotherapist and psychotherapist 25 years ago and whilst hypnobirthing was in its infancy back then; my passion was to work with pregnancy and parenthood as a specialism. I owe this inspiration to two things; I was born and raised in Northern Ireland to a very large fertile family- one of 43 first cousins! Also my father was a pig farmer so being fascinated by birth was an integral part of my childhood. Given my family history and having successfully used hypnobirthing in the births of my own 3 children, I wanted to have the opportunityI had to have a positive birth-managing their unique experience, not fearing it. In my role as a hypnotherapist, empowering expectant mums how trust in their body so they enter labour feeling calm, confident and in control really the best feeling in the world.
How long was your training course and did you need any additional training/qualifications to become a professional hypnobirthing practitioner?
The National College of Hypnosis and Psychotherapy (nchp) is the only UK hypnobirthing model that will only train already qualified hypnotherapists with a grounding not just in the hypnotic state, but in concepts such as emotional abreaction and critical factor bypass. Within this context hypnobirthing training exists as a CPD course for those whose already have the prerequisite knowledge and expertise to practice professionally and ethically. The CPD training is 14 hours (or 2 days if completed all at once). On the aspect of birthing knowledge required for effective intervention with clients, it is crucial to remember that we are not training to be childbirth experts, but hypnosis for childbirth experts. I personally believe that hypnobirthing training should be adding specialist knowledge and techniques to the toolbox and repertoire of already being a practicing hypnotherapist-their are huge parallels to be drawn with the work we all do with clients already.
After you completed your training, how did you go about getting your first hypnobirthing clients? Do you have any recommendations for others just starting out?
There are many opportunity doors to knock on in the world out there-but I believe success comes from employing the 7 P’s: Passion, Purpose, Persistence, Professionalism, Probity, Personality; which when aligned create successful Performance in our therapy practices. As with any aspect of hypnotherapy, the question we need to be asking is not whether there is enough demand for our services (after 23 years running a full-time private practice, believe me there is!); but how we commit ourselves fully to accessing the client groups we want to market to. Whilst our primary motivations as therapists will be to help people, we should not make apologies for needing to run a successful business! We are not going to be able to help people if we cannot sustain an income that allows us to continue helping. In hypnobirthing, pregnancy is the #1 reason for women consulting their GP in the UK (incidentally fertility issues are #2, an area where hypnosis also have a wealth of evidence proving its' effectiveness). Every pregnant woman in the UK has an assigned midwife so start with community midwives and those based in hospital and maternity units too. When our easibirthing practice started, we spoke at midwives regular meetings, offered to provide free talks at nhs antenatal classes, NCT meetings. We were soon offered nhs funding to run introductory ‘relaxation and breathing workshops’ for women and birth partners. The participants of these workshops fed through to our private hypnobirthing group courses. My advice would be to think outside the box; toddler groups, nurseries, even primary schools all have a high number of women expecting secondor subsequent babies. They will be even more open to the idea of hypnobirthing if they have had traumatic births first time round.My single, most important piece of advice would be, don’t be disheartened if one door closes, another one will open if you are persistent in looking for it!
How many sessions do you usually offer expecting moms before they give birth?
We offer 5 x 90 minutes sessions. Birth partners are highly encouraged to attend if they are able to. However we would never exclude women who are coming on their own or can attend less than the full course (there are hypnobirthing models which do this!). We work on the principle that somehypnobirthing training is better than no hypnobirthing training. Our clients can attend a group course, or one-to-one sessions in our offices or via video link. We see individuals and couples from all over the world for hypnobirthing.
What are some of the biggest fears/issues you help expecting moms overcome using hypnobirthing?
Childbirth (and pregnancy) is not a medical process-it is a normal natural physiological process. However our culture teaches us that it is very much the opposite. For many generations we have been told that delivering a baby is many hours of painfully agonising work, to be faced with fear and trepidation. Many of the fears I witness women have about childbirth stem from this negative social conditioning. They often worry about a long, painful labour that they may be unable to cope with, about complications affecting their baby’s and their own welfare, need for intervention such as induction or a C-section. A severe form of fear of childbirth is known as tokophobia which can be fuelled by a fear of death or of re-traumatisation following past sexual abuse.
If you don't mind sharing some of the details, what's been your most beautiful or profound experience as a hypnobirthing practitioner?
Our motto at easibirthing® is ‘changing expectations and challenging attitudes one birth at a time’. We talk about the birth of a mother and the birth of a father-whilst you as a parent is the real you, it is a part of you that hasn’t existed before. To play a small part in facilitating this transition to the new phase in their lives and witness women and birth partners transform in confidence in themselves and their bodies is both beautiful and profound. I feel the only fitting way to capture the magic of the moment of birth is to borrow one mum’s words:"I have never felt so powerful. I felt like I could conquer the world! I was loving it all! Amazing-nothing could have prepared me for such a beautiful experience & to have the opportunity to deliver and meet my baby without any sense of fear of the process was incredible-thank you so much.” Interestingly it is often when couples experience things not go according to plan but remain calm, confident and in control that really shows the true effectiveness of hypnobirthing.
And lastly, do you have any advice for aspiring hypnobirthing practitioners who are considering it as a career path?
Just do it-you will never look back! However I would definitely recommend choosing wisely-training in a hypnobirthing model that recognises and values your expertise and level of qualification as a hypnotherapist. There are many courses out there which will train non-hypnotherapists who don’t fully understand the scope of hypnobirthing beyond simple relaxation. When practiced by a trained expert you will be be able to harness the true power and inner strength of birthing women, often of an intensity that they never previously recognised in themselves! Also stick to a UK model as it will best reflect UK birthing practices. I am always happy to answer any questions about training in hypnobirthing. You can contact me at [email protected] or visit www.easibirthing.com about our live training events and online courses in fertility, pregnancy, childbirth and post natal mental health.