Hypnobirthing and epidurals

hypnobirthing Apr 26, 2024
Sophie Fletcher Hypnotherapy
Hypnobirthing and epidurals

In this blog, I'm going to answer the question: can you do hypnobirthing with an epidural?

A lot of hypnobirthing methods demonise epidurals, and to be really honest, I think they are used far more than necessary and can lead to further intervention. In a true hypnobirthing model the goal is a powerful belief that your body can do it and that when you are free of fear and anxiety birth is a lot easier to manage.  Many people do hypnobirthing because they don’t want an epidural, and it’s fantastic for a large % of those people who do it.

However, I’m not just a hypnobirthing teacher, I’m also a hypnotherapist and I like to explore the broader application of hypnosis for birth.  And we have to consider epidurals because they do have a place.

I’m really interested in the psychological aspect of having an epidural.  The room changes, the energy changes, but you can still use hypnosis techniques and have awareness of how to optimise that space to have a positive experience of birth.

Why have an epidural?

Firstly, it's about understanding the risks and the benefits of that epidural and making the decisions that are right for you.

Occasionally someone who has practiced hypnobirthing may find that their birth has taken a different direction from the one they had planned, and they may consider having an epidural. If you've made that decision, and it's an informed choice using the BRAINS framework of questioning that is taught in hypnobirthing (see below). That may the right thing for you.

It doesn't mean the hypnobirthing has to stop. All the things that people love about hypnobirthing, the breathing, creating a tranquil space, having the music on in the background. Those things still matter because you still want to feel good when you're having your baby, don’t you? 

Unfortunately, one of the things that I've seen in births when women have had epidurals is that all around there's lots of hustle and bustle. And then once the epidural is in the health care team and partner the energy changes, and people seem to forget that there's still this incredible, powerful woman birthing her baby.  Lights may go on, other people relax a bit, there is a lot of chat. There is not so much well...reverence.

If someone has an epidural, it's important to make it as positive an experience as possible; and to still remember, there is a baby coming and your body is birthing!  Amazing.

These are my top tips:

Continue using your BRAINS questioning framework.

  • What are the BENEFITS to mother and baby?
    What are the RISKS of an intervention to mother and baby?
  • Are there any ALTERNATIVES we could try?
  • What is the INDICATION for an intervention, can we wait?
  • What would happen if we did NOTHING?
  • Ask everything softly, with a S

There are still different pathways a birth can take even after having an epidural, so it is important that you and you partner continue to advocate for yourselves. It may be that there are slightly different positions the mother can birth with an epidural, so keep asking questions,

  1. Keep using your breathing techniques because that will keep you and your baby relaxed.
  2. Keep playing music if that relaxes you, have your hypnobirthing tracks on or other playlists you may have created. You may find you fall asleep for a bit and that’s ok, if you didn’t want an epidural and find yourself with one, odds are that you have worked pretty hard for a long time and might need that rest.
  3. Stay calm using the self-hypnosis and mindfulness techniques you have learned using them if you need to have further interventions or if you feel anxious.
  4. Keep the room dark, and quiet, have your fairy lights up if you have them. Ask your partner to massage your hands or your head.
  5. Be treated like the queen you are!


No woman fails at birth, she is failed.

The thing that no hypnobirthing teacher wants to hear is that a woman thinks she's failed because she had to use an epidural. You're birthing a baby. That's incredible. You can prepare as much as you can, and sometimes things do go another way. Remember by preparing using hypnobirthing, you've done everything in your power to have a positive birth experience and you can still say I did hypnobirthing with an epidural because you have done hypnobirthing.  And don’t forget You can continue to use your hypnobirthing after the birth and into those early weeks of having your baby.

Don’t underestimate the benefits of the preparation to your baby’s development and well-being either!

I hope that reassures some of you who may have had an epidural in the past and those of you that are scared that if you have one, all your hypnobirthing practice will have gone out of the window.  You can still have a very positive experience. And you can continue to use many of the tools and techniques you have learned alongside having an epidural.

Thank you for reading this blog post. If you found it insightful, don't forget to sign up to my email newsletter for access to free audio tracks, hypnotherapy resources and special offers.

If you have any questions about hypnobirthing register for my free hypnobirthing session on 28th May 7pm (UTC) or listen to Hypnobirthing: Twenty questions wherever you get your podcasts.

You can follow me on YouTube and Instagram @MindfulHypnobirthingBook for more content.


If you are interested in the audio tracks check them out here

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