Mindfulness, Hypnobirthing and the New Age Mumtrepreneurs
Are we on the cusp of a mindful, meditative revolution for the average labour?
Despite gigantic strides being made for women’s rights, women are still under the upper hand. There remains a staggering pay gap — even in the most developed, western countries in the world. In the UK, females earn 18% less as compared to their male counterparts, whilst across the Atlantic, this gap widens, standing at 20%. And what of the home? Surely roles have now balanced out — and women aren’t the overburdened cleaners and washerwomen of old, right? Well, as recent stats go to show — women still tackle the majority of chores — by a staggering 40% more than their male partners on average. Yet the female entrepreneurial spirit has never burned brighter, as the number of female owned businesses has surged from 9.2% in 2007, to 45.2% as of 2016.
But then there’s the issue of procreation, with three in five self-employed parents taking less than a week off following the birth of their baby — a pain felt by entrepreneurial mum and dad alike. This should be no surprise, after all in the UK, the self-employed are granted a payment of just £138 for the first six weeks of maternity leave, compared to £458 for employees.
It’s quite clear, female entrepreneurs clearly need a miracle if they’re going to grow their business, have a baby and run a household.
In steps mindfulness and hypnobirthing — magic bullets for the under pressure modern woman?
Mindfulness at its heart is meditation — involving full attention being placed on the here and now, and nothing more. It encourages deep breathing, and thinking only of the flow of our breath. Those who extol its benefits say that it’s capable of improving concentration, reducing stress, increasing mental clarity and improving objectivity. And a pivotal study has recently established concrete evidence as to the effectiveness of mindfulness, finding that it reduced:
- Anxiety levels by 58%
- Depression by 57%
- Stress by 40%
Not only has mindfulness been helping the otherwise stressed female entrepreneur in stepping up and onto the business platter — juggling work and motherhood, but it’s also assisted rock solid business strategy that delivers a competitive advantage. On this point, it’s worth noting that meditation has been routinely practiced in the boardrooms of Google, Apple, Aetna, the Pentagon, and the U.S. House of Representatives for many years.
Which leads us onto Mindful Hypnobirthing…
Hypnobirthing is categorised as a ‘complete birthing education’ — developed on a foundation of hypnosis and mind-training to re-condition thought processes. The practice aims to place the birthing mother in more control, and to free her from the horror stories she’s heard and seen from those she knows and from film and TV. Classes are taken over the course of five to eight weekly sessions, or two daytime sessions — either in group settings, or private home sessions (the latter of which inevitably being more expensive). Some blend this with the power of mindfulness — focusing on the moment, rather than potentially hours of labour ahead.
Whilst we know of the effectiveness of mindfulness, what of hypnobirthing? Can it truly and literally deliver?
Practitioners and hypnobirthing experts say that this practice promises much when fully embraced — a drug free birth, a baby who’s calmer during their first few weeks, and the reduced chance of medical intervention, such as a caesarean, epidural or forceps delivery.
It’s true to say that it’s not all hocus pocus and without merit, and actually there’s a very scientific element to the practice — it aims to increase the production of endorphins, which increases adrenaline and improves oxygen flow — key to assisting the womb in working optimally throughout labour. And there are indeed studies that show hypnobirthing to produce shorter first stages of labour, less intense pain, decreased fear and anxiety, a shorter time in hospital, and increased recovery periods. The latter two of which may be no more essential than in the world of the Mumtrepreneur.
The modern day pressures for the entrepreneurial mom-to-be have never been greater, and few things seem set to change anytime soon — the gender average earning scales may take an age to rebalance; the issue of maternity leave seems a non-starter and the home chore routine stubbornly sticks steadfastly to the 1980’s. As women in business who need to get back to work as quickly as possible, and juggle many spinning plates at any one time, it seems that mindfulness and hypnobirthing may just be two small miracles set against a backdrop of predictabilities.