Hollie de Cruz talks hypnobirthing skills to empower every birth
Congratulations on your new book Your Baby, Your Birth! How did you find the process of writing it?
Thanks! I actually found writing this book to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I work with people in a bespoke way, tailoring each course to the couples I have sitting in front of me, so the real challenge was finding a way to communicate to a wider audience more personally. I wanted to avoid too much information and retain my tone of voice among the layers of content. Ultimately, I really wanted to give couples a solid foundation of birth basics, a set of easy tools to incorporate into their everyday lives that would empower them to approach their baby’s birth in a way that’s as unique as they are – to find the best support, have the confidence to keep an open mind, and the ability to make informed decisions that feel right..
To what do you attribute the rising interest in hypnobirthing in recent years?
I think, generally speaking, people are becoming more savvy in taking responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. With a healthcare system that’s under huge amounts of pressure, people are starting to bring alternative and preventative therapies into their lives. The growth of Western medicine means we’ve made brilliant advances to help when it’s needed, but I believe hypnobirthing bridges the gap between that and the fear that surrounds birth. It’s an antenatal education programme designed to harness the power of the birthing body physically and hormonally, while enhancing the confidence to make informed decisions along the way. A positive birth experience is going to affect how you start your journey as a mother, and I think women now want to be active participants. The rise of well-known figures talking about hypnobirthing also helps put it on society’s radar and can really help break down incorrect assumptions about a really logical programme that’s been given an odd name.
How do you prepare women for all possible birth outcomes?
To start with, I encourage women to ditch all ideas of what they think birth is meant to look like, and focus on things that would make their experience feel like a positive one. Every single woman is completely unique, as is her baby, and this means their journey will be too. There’s no point setting this idea that a perfect birth is one that happens in a pool at home to an Enya album, because this is not every woman’s idea of comfortable. Similarly, we shouldn’t assume all women will want to give birth in hospital, in a place and with people they’ve never met before, because this is not every woman’s idea of comfortable either. The key is getting mum to think for herself (rather than going by what society tells her) about what makes her feel safe and at ease, and then building her birth around those feelings. A woman will have the best birth for her when she feels informed of her options, relaxed in her surroundings, nurtured by her birth partner and supported by her caregivers.
Your work falls into the realm of psychology. Is this what led you to the yesmum cards?
The yesmum cards were never part of my original business plan, as I always just wanted to teach women about birth. We use a lot of positive affirmations in hypnobirthing as a way to clear the subconscious mind. We then reprogramme it with clearer, more positive beliefs. When a woman goes into labour, her subconscious mind will have a quick rummage through the archives to see what birth looks like and generate a response accordingly. If it finds it looks scary, dangerous and painful, it will trigger the production of adrenaline to “protect” us – but what it actually does is take blood away from our birthing muscles and towards our defence systems. When the mind finds that birth looks safe, comfortable and empowering, it triggers the production of endorphins and oxytocin – the very hormones that make our birthing muscles work more efficiently. Because this simple hormonal transaction has such a profound impact on how we experience things physically, I’d often get emails from mums after they’d had their babies asking if there was a way they could apply a similar skillset postnatally. That’s when I had the idea for taking the affirmations I use with women during pregnancy and adapting them for motherhood. They were received so positively that we now have 17 different ranges available for mums, dads, kids, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between.
Is it hard to manage your business aspirations when being your own boss?
I think one of the most important questions you can ask yourself as a business owner is why you’re doing what you’re doing. What is your motivation? I come from a corporate background. I liked my job but was really only there to pay for living in the hours outside of my workplace. When I had my son, my perspective shifted, and I didn’t want to leave this awesome little person to go and do something I didn’t completely love. I’d also discovered hypnobirthing, and my own empowering experience ignited something within me that I wanted to share. My agenda was never to make a massive income. I got a part-time job two days a week with a local design agency, which meant I could afford to do my hypnobirthing training and then teach from home. Because I was teaching with passion over profit as my agenda, my business grew very organically – people were coming to me because I was recommended to them, and I can only assume this is because I truly believe in what I do and absolutely adore working with people. When you love what you do natural growth happens.