Sports Psychology vs. Hypnobirthing.
Why they are so similar.
If I said to you names such as Wayne Rooney, Andy Murray, Johnny Wilkinson and Jessica Ennis. What would you say they have in common? They are all sportsmen/women, yes. All great achievers in their chosen sport, yes. But did you know they all attribute a lot of their super sports powers to visualisation? They basically HypnoSport.
Wayne Rooney- Before a match he visualises his game right down to the colour of his socks and pants. Being specific in your visualisation – thinking of all your 5 senses- is associated with enhanced sport performance. Rooney has said to have visualised everything from the sound of the crowd to his full kit.
Hypnobirthing- If you imagine yourself in birth and think about those 5 senses. Just like Wayne it will help with your visualisation, it will also mean that when you are in birth and you smell that lavender smell or are in that birth room that you’ve imagined- it’s not going to be an alien thing to you – your body has already learnt to associate those 5 senses with calmness and birth, reducing your anxiety.
Jonny Wilkinson – Renowned for visualising the perfect kick, from the line that the ball will follow to the feel of a great kick on his boot. The match before that perfect drop kick in the World Cup wouldn’t have been the first time he’d been in that situation. Having visualised that kick or others similar many a times that week before. This is positive visualisation. In Wilkinson’s words, “If you have realistically imagined situations, you feel better prepared and less fearful of the unexpected.”
Hypnobirthing- Again, putting yourself in lots of situations and feeling positive about it and in control means that if you have a cesarean you will feel confident during that birth. If you have an induction you would have imagined exactly what you will be doing whilst coping with those early, induction contractions. Prepare yourself by putting yourself in these situations so you feel less fearful of the unexpected, just like Jonny.
Jessica Ennis-Hill Olympic Gold medalist “I used visualisation to think about the perfect technique,” she says. “If I could get that perfect image in my head, it helped me channel my physical performance.” Researchers have shown that practising things in your head fires off the same neurons as if you were doing it in real life. Sort of like your mind doesn’t know the difference between practising in real life or imagined.
Hypnobirthing- You can’t practise birth, you can’t go training like the athletes do. But you can put yourself in the situation in your mind. This will increase your confidence in yourself and your body’s ability when the day comes. All of these tricks to reduce fear means that your body will have less adrenaline in your body. Adrenaline in birth is responsible for feeling tense, panicky and therefore pain. It can also reduce your contractions. Meaning that imagining things going positive in your birth means your channeling your physical reaction by controlling your hormones so that they’re not firing off the stressful adrenaline.
I find it odd that visualisation in sports performance is so supported and recognised and massive in the media in such a positive way. Yet if you do this for birth it can still be seen as hippy and maybe even naive. People are wary of visualising in birth due to worrying that their actual experience will differ from what they’ve imagined- as we know that birth has lots of other factors involved that are often beyond our control. Yet again this is the same for sports. Jonny and Wayne would have both relied heavily on their other team players and you can never control how well the opposing team are playing too. But they know that if you are feeling confident and prepared, you’re stacking the odds in your favour- that applies for both sports and birth.
Maybe if we called it birth psychology these techniques would be more mainstream, maybe if we called sports psychology “Hypno sporting” the term hypnobirthing would be more acceptable! Either way the powerful technique of visualisations shouldn’t just be limited to use in sport. Exactly the same techniques can be used for business, organising your home life, an important presentation, your wedding or an important dinner party. And of course, as a technique to be able to birth like a boss.
photo creds Monet Nicole