Human and Health Sciences: Swansea University Research Excellence Scholarship: The Experience of Expectant Parents in a Series of Hypnobirthing Classes in the Health and Wellbeing Academy

Closing date: 22 January 2018

Key Information

Swansea University Research Excellence Scholarships (SURES)

Swansea University is proud to offer 15 fully-funded PhD scholarships for students commencing study in October 2018 or January 2019.

The scholarships will be awarded on the basis of student excellence across a portfolio of 34 potential projects.

Project title: The experience of expectant parents in a series of Hypnobirthing classes in the Health and Wellbeing Academy and  the impact of the techniques learnt on their labour and birth

Start date: October 2018 or January 2019

Background

The reality of birth in the UK is increasingly recognised as over medicalised for women who have an uncomplicated pregnancy and labour. Commonly used interventions have little impact on reducing, for example cerebral palsy, and often result in increased morbidity for women and babies (Shepherd et al 2017). It is important to establish alternative ways of supporting expectant parents to approach birth in a way that maximises the possibility of achieving a physiological birth.

A partnership between accredited Hypnobirthing practitioners in the midwifery team, CHHS, and our partner Health Board, ABMU, offer evening classes in Hypnobirthing to expectant parents. The classes are offered in a series of 3 sets and at the present time there are three separate sessions running per week with groups ranging from 3 to 8 couples.

(The term “expectant parents” means any couple or birthing partnership who are sharing a birthing experience together).   

What is Hypnobirthing?

Self- hypnosis for relaxation during birth is based on the work of Grantly Dick-Read (1959/2013), who identified the fear-tension-pain cycle, and who introduced the idea that the mind affects the physiological responses of the body in labour through its influence on the balance of hormones. Hypnobirthing classes offer a structured approach to support women and partners to use self-hypnosis to facilitate the physiology of birth by removing the automatic fear response and lowering the levels of stress hormones which may interfere with birth, whilst encouraging coping and the release of endorphins. Through education and practice women are enabled to access subconscious responses and to eradicate fear at this level (Burns, 2013). This means that preparation for labour and birth is the key (Flood 2012).

The existing literature is clear that the use of self- hypnosis could be regarded as a positive contribution to promoting health and wellbeing in pregnancy and birth with a long term impact on the future mental health of mother and baby. However further inquiry is needed to establish a stronger evidence base on the effectiveness of the hypnobirthing techniques.

Methods

Aim: To explore expectant parents’ experience of undertaking hypnobirthing classes in the Health and Wellbeing Academy and investigate how the learnt techniques impact on their experience of labour and birth and their birth outcomes.

Objectives:

  1. To explore expectant parents’ experience of hypnobirthing classes in the Health and  Wellbeing  Academy
  2. To investigate the extent to which (if any) the techniques learned influence their experience of labour and birth
  3.  To measure the impact on birth outcomes for mothers and babies

The proposal is for a mixed methods study. Questionnaires would be sent to all participants to evaluate their experience of the classes. A qualitative approach would be adopted for a convenience sample using observation, focus groups and semi structured interviews, both individuals and as couples.

The extent to which the techniques learned in the classes enables participants to cope with the  experience of labour and birth would be followed up with interviews using the convenience sample and questionnaires for the remaining population. A review of clinical outcomes would be undertaken retrospectively through auditing participants’ case notes.

The findings on the study will have a direct impact on the provision of antenatal education in maternity services locally and further afield. Whilst there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence  to support the positive influence of hypnobirthing classes on the experience of labour and birth, and improved outcomes, there needs to be robust research evidence on which to base policy development.

The successful applicant will have access to our Postgraduate Research Student Training programmes.

Eligibility

Candidates should have (or expect to obtain) a first class honours degree (or equivalent) and/or a master's degree with distinction. 

Candidates need to have knowledge of the physiology and psychology involved with labour and birth and the transition to parenthood. The ideal candidate will be a registered midwife, or an individual who is active in birth/maternity support or education/preparation for birth.

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK/EU candidates only.

Funding

The scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £14,553 for 3 years. 

There will also be £1,000 per annum available for research expenses such as travel, accommodation, field trips and conference attendance.

How to Apply

‌To apply please complete and return the following documents to Dr Vivienne Jenkins (pgrsures@swansea.ac.uk) quoting reference CHHSCi2:

Student applications will be evaluated against the following criteria:

  • Literary and Academic attainments (60%)
  • Demonstrable esteem indicators i.e. ambassadorial skills, instincts and opportunities to demonstrate leadership, experience and interest in extracurricular and community activities (40%)

Informal enquiries before the deadline are welcome and should be directed to Dr Sarah Norris (s.e.norris@swansea.ac.uk / +44 (0)1792 518 563).