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Why everyone is talking about hypnobirthing

Tracy Donegan is the founder of GentleBirth (gentlebirth.ie), an Irish hypnobirthing programme. She explains:

* What is Hypnobirthing?

Preparing for labour with hypnosis, a state of deep mental relaxation and focus, that enables mums to change their expectations and perceptions of the sensations they'll feel in labour and replacing that with feelings of confidence, calmness and control.

Mums can do a home-study programme of eight CDs, guidebook and support or couples can come to a weekend workshop.

* Is Kate Middleton the first famous hypnobirther?

No, she's one of a growing list of celebrities who have used hypnosis for birth, including Jessica Alba (pictured), Pamela Anderson and Cindy Crawford.

* Who started it and is it catching on in Ireland?

Hypnobirthing has been documented in medical journals as far back as the early 1950s in Russia. In 1955 the British Medical Association approved the use of hypnosis in pain management in childbirth and surgery. There's a growing interest in Ireland. Since 2005 I've taught over 2000 couples.

* Does it work?

Studies show mums who use hypnosis request less pain relief and have shorter labours. The more relaxed a mum is the less adrenalin she'll have in her body (adrenalin makes the body work harder than it needs to). Only 15pc of GentleBirth mums have the epidural.

* Is it for everyone?

It's for anyone who wants a more relaxed, stress-free pregnancy – no matter what their plans are for the birth. Even if a mum is planning an epidural, being able to stay calm while waiting for it makes a more positive experience.

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