Is Sophrology really effective to prepare for birth?


Can sophrology relieve pain during labour

When I am not looking after Babou, writing or organising events for expectant and new mums, I work as a Sophrology practitioner. If you’ve lived in France, you’ll probably know about Sophrology or at least will have heard of it. It’s hugely popular back home. It’s still fairly new to the UK but growing in popularity very quickly.

What it does is help you get to know your mind and body better through exploring the breath, physical movements and visualisations so you can achieve a greater state of wellbeing.

I personally specialise in stress management and birth preparation. Before I got pregnant myself, I’d worked with many expectant mums helping them stay calm and relaxed during pregnancy and throughout labour. I got some fantastic results but was yet to experience the whole pregnancy process and witness the power of the method for myself.

So when I found out I was pregnant, I got very excited about finally putting in practice all my learnings and experiencing a Sophro birth.

I’ve written several posts on my experience of using Sophrology during my pregnancy at different stages and you can find all the articles here.

I practiced the exercises, if not daily, at least every other day throughout my pregnancy for minimum 10 minutes. The power of the method lies on the repetition so that’s what I set out to do: practice often so I could instantly experience its benefits whilst in labour. I am glad I did because it paid off. Without all the preparation I’d done, I probably wouldn’t have had the positive birth I had.

Here’s how I benefited from Sophrology and how it helped me during labour

It made me stronger and more resilient

I knew labour would hurt but I didn’t know it would hurt THAT much. I was unlucky in the fact that I dilated very very slowly and the pain was very strong from the very beginning. I’d put in my birth plan that I did not want to be offered pain relief. When I got to the hospital, the pain was so intense, I mentioned to the midwives that I was thinking about asking for the epidural. I wasn’t 100% sure about it though. A part of me was still clinging onto my wish to have a natural birth and I did not want to give up. I decided to take it one contraction at a time and see where it led me. Hours later, I was still going, focused on myself, breathing through the waves of pain that were coming and going every 2 minutes knowing each and every one of them was taking me closer to the birth of my baby. I kept the end in mind and did not let the pain take over my mind.


It grew my confidence and self-belief

The endless number of visualisations I’d done before the big day were designed to grow my confidence in my ability to give birth calmly and comfortably. I visualised my ideal birth as well as various alternatives as things sometimes don’t go according to plan. I knew that whatever would happen on the day, I would be able to adapt, embrace it all and go with the flow. By accepting the unknown, I was able to let go of my high expectations and my confidence in myself grew stronger. At each session, I activated three main capacities, Harmony, Confidence and Hope, all elements I felt I needed for a positive birth. By the time the big day came, I felt ready. I knew I could do it.


It helped me trust my body’s wisdom and relax into the process

Our bodies are designed to birth our babies. My practice was centered on this belief, knowing that I have the resources within myself to do this. My body knows how to bring my baby into the world and if I listen to it, follow its lead and do not tense and resist, the whole process will be quicker and easier. Through my practice, I developed a strong awareness of my state of physical tension and my breathing and learnt to relax quickly and deeply. That definitely helped through labour, my body stayed relaxed whilst I let the contractions do their work. I learnt to relax in dynamic postures, standing, walking and sitting and that was a fantastic help on the day too, I did not need to lay down and stay still which would probably have slowed down the whole process. I felt in harmony, body and mind.

To cement my trust in my body’s wisdom, I’d created my own birthing affirmations which I repeated to myself daily in the weeks leading up to the big day.


It calmed my mind and kept me centered

By relaxing the body, the mind quietens down. By focusing the mind on letting go of tension in the body, the mind stays centered. All the exercises I did required a level on concentration and meditation, a workout for the mind. Through regular practice, I was able to relax physically and mentally without much effort and slow down the inner chatter. This means that during labour, I did not let myself get carried away by unwanted and distracting thoughts. I stayed tuned into my body the whole time. Without this ability, I would have probably let myself spiraled down into negative thoughts and let fear and pain take over.


It made me kinder to myself

I learnt to stop being so harsh with myself. I started to look at myself from a neutral angle, just being present and observing what was going on in my inner world. It gave me peace and I started being kinder and more compassionate towards myself. This attitude of non-judgment helped me on the day to embrace the experience as it presented itself, without over thinking it, simply going with the flow.


Sophrology had helped me in so many ways before I even got pregnant but using it in this new stage in my life brought a whole new dimension to it. I discovered the method in a different way and came out the other end changed, a stronger and more resilient person, both aspects that are now helping me through motherhood.

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