What are Hypnobirthing Anchors and How to Use Them
Updated: Nov 24, 2022
So you've completed your Hypnobirthing Course or read a Hypnobirthing book and remember something about Anchors but you can't quite remember what they are, how they work or why they are beneficial to labour and birth.
Let's go back to basics for a second. We know that when we are nice and relaxed and in the parasympathetic side of the nervous system, we produce the hormones and conditions which both help labour progress at its optimal rate and makes labour more comfortable. Sitting in the sympathetic side of the nervous system would slow labour down and make it more uncomfortable.
We use Hypnobirthing to help us access and maintain a calm and relaxed state in the parasympathetic side of the nervous system.
Anchors literally help tetherus to, and keep us in that desired state. they are triggers that remind us of something and in this case can be a great distraction help us focus on remaining relaxed and calm.
During your pregnancy, in the lead-up to labour, you'll be practising your Hypnobirthing techniques such as listening to your MP3's, having your partner read scripts to you, practising affirmations and breathing.
Whilst we practise these techniques we can engage Anchors alongside these activities which we will slowly become familiar with and associate with the practise of becoming relaxed and confident when it comes to labour and birth.
So what might an anchor, be, look like or involve?
First let's think about your basic senses:
Touch - perhaps you have a favourite blanket you snuggle under when you are listening to your relaxations, or a pillow or cushion you rest yor head on. Maybe you have a super fluffy dressing gown that makes you relax as soon as you put it on ahead of your practise. All of these will act as anchors, having become associated with relaxation and can be used during your labour at home or taken with you to hospital.
Sight - or not as the case may be. The bright white strip lights of a hospital ward are unlikely to make you feel calm and relaxed and instead put you on edge and feel very aware of your surroundings - this is highly likely to move you into the sympathetic side of the nervous system so think about the lighting you've been using during your practise. It's likely you've turned the lights down low, had a few candles glowing, maybe a side light at the most. Perhaps you've even used an eye mask to completely block out the outside world.
Smell - try lighting a scented candle or putting your diffuser on when you practise your Hypnobirthing. You will soon start to associate the smell with feelings of relaxation and calm and so having the same smell available to you during your labour (in a spritz or on a tissue if in hospital or using your normal method at home) will automatically anchor you back to those feelings of relaxation.
Sound - Purely the relaxations or the music behind them may be all you need here. Think about how a song can take you back to a warm, romantic memory with your partner or happy times dancing with friends. I grew up with Test Match Special belting through our home due to a cricket-mad father and brothers and as a result it's hugely comforting sound to me. What anchors you back to a place of peace and warmth and induces the production of oxytocin?
But what else can act as an anchor which you can use or incorporate into your Hypnobirthing practise?:
Breathing - simply using your Up Breathing can take you back to your calm state when you feel you may be moving away from it
Your partner's voice - through reading scripts, your partner's voice is going to become an anchor itself
Words - particular words from scripts such as 'release' or 'soften'
Your safe place - that place you visit in a relaxation, it may be real or imaginary
Hand stroking - having practised in the relaxations
Hand on tummy - having practised in the relaxations
Hand dropping - having practised in the relaxations
Colour - often established during a relaxation, what colour is it you associate with calm? Treat yourself to a new scarf or cushion in that colour and keep it close.
Using Hypnobirthing Anchors take practise in order for them to become effective, so start to notice them during your practise and incorporate more if you wish to, recognising those little elements you associate with the calm and confidence you are building throughout your pregnancy.
Is this all new to you? Why not join one of my Free Online Hypnobirthing Taster Sessions and find out more about how Hypnobirthing can help you.