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Hypnobirthing and the Power of Words!

Hypnobirthing and the Power of Words!

I often get asked about Hypnobirthing and whether I recommend it.

What you learn in a hypnobirthing course is very similar to certain aspects of pregnancy yoga, so I absolutely recommend it! Hypnobirthing addresses the impact of language use during someone’s pregnancy and birthing journey.

Hypnobirthing teaches you the power of words have on your psyche. Let’s have a look at some examples of common birthing language and its alternatives. Think of a sensation (sharp, pain, pleasure, warm, prickly) and instantly your brain evaluates it and puts it in one of two camps; positive – something that we like and “want more of” or negative – something that we dislike and “want to avoid”.

Watching births on tv shows or in films, often make me want to scream (in frustration). They tend to portray it as a horrible, loss of control, painful, dangerous event, whereas – it doesn’t have to be that way, truly! Birth can be an empowering and positive, and happy experience – whether it is a caesarean or home water birth. I am in awe of the many women I have supported during my time as a midwife. Women are amazingly strong, powerful and beautiful!

So, how can we have a good experience?

Firstly, we can start by changing the words we use surrounding the birth. This is where hypnobirthing comes in.

Katherine Graves Hypnobirthing

There are various types of hypnobirthing schools. They all have the same premise but are taught slightly differently. I’m most familiar with Katherine Graves hypnobirthing. In the book, you are asked to look at which sentence sounds more positive?

  • You don’t need to worry
  • You’re doing so well

How about the change in tone here – which would you rather hear?

  • You’re only 4 cm dilated
  • You are already 4cm dilated – well done!

It seems a no-brainer to me!

A lot of words used during birth can be very clinical, cold or negative such as failure to progress. It is beneficial to replace these with more positive ones.


Contraction Surge/wave/labour sensation/ tightening
Pain Pressure/intense sensation
Delivery the baby Birth the baby
Due date Guesstimated date
Breaking of the waters Releasing of membranes
Complications Different circumstances
Effacing, dilating Thinning, opening
False labour Practice labour
Pushing Breathing down your baby

Which words resonate more with you? Which alternative words work for you and which ones you would rather ditch? Everyone is different and what works for some people won’t work for others. Do you have any other words that you would like to add to the above list?

Ask your birth partner(s) and care providers to please be respectful of their use of words! See also other top tips for your birth partners.

Hypnobirthing and the power of words have a huge impact on how your pregnancy and birth experience is perceived. This in turn has an effect on your postnatal recovery and wellbeing, including how well you bond with your baby.

During my pregnancy yoga classes I take great care to use positive language. Come and see for yourself and join my class every Sunday at Yoga West.