Birth: “We should support pregnant women mentally like high-performance athletes”

Birth: “We should support pregnant women mentally like high-performance athletes”

When are births experienced without fear and panic? When everyone goes along: women giving birth, accompanying people, obstetricians and midwives, say mental trainer Kristin Graf and former chief physician Wolf Lütje. © Ilka Maria Schneemann / private

“Most people only know horror stories about childbirth,” says mental trainer Kristin Graf. “Many people today automatically associate hospital births in particular with trauma and violence,” says the former chief physician and birth coach Wolf Lütje. Both want to change that. What does it take for a good one? birth without fear, where pregnant women neither feel at the mercy nor patronized?

A good preparation, Kristin and Wolf answer the podcast hosts Melanie Büttner and Sven Stockrahm. And for Kristin, this begins with mental training, which is also used by high-performance athletes during competitions. After two traumatic birth experiences, Kristin changed everything with her third child: She used the tools that she had used as a mental trainer for years. With hypnosis and trance she gave birth to her third child almost painlessly. From this she developed her own method that she now uses to support thousands of pregnant women.

At the same time, three factors are crucial for good obstetric care, says Wolf: the birthing woman’s feeling of maintaining a certain level of control, even if the birth goes differently than hoped in an emergency, consistent care and participation in decisions.

The entire episode can be heard at the top of this page.

More about our guests and further information

  • Kristin Graf has developed a birth preparation method that combines medical knowledge with mental training experiences: peaceful birth. She has already supported more than 26,000 pregnant women in online and offline courses. You can find out more about her and her method here, Instagram and in the same name Podcast.
  • Dr. Wolf Lütje is a birth coach, psychotherapist and former chief physician and has been working in obstetrics for 40 years. Over the course of his career, he has built up a wealth of experience from more than 60,000 births, some of which he attended himself. He is also President of the German Society for Psychosomatic Gynecology and Obstetrics. You can find out more about him here Instagram and
  • A German study (EJSP: Hoffmann et al.2023) recently provided evidence that women who view birth as a natural process require less medical support during birth and are less likely to develop depression and post-traumatic stress.
  • There are some older studies that show evidence of positive birth experiences and pain relief through hypnosis, but more research is needed. (British Journal of Anaesthesia: Cyna et al., 2004)
  • In this episode the book Every birth is unique the midwife Jana Friedrich is mentioned, who describes positive birth stories. Wolf also points out Narrating monkeys: myths, lies, utopias how stories shape our lives by Samira El Ouassil and Friedemann Karig.
  • In the WDR short film We’re having a sibling From 2020 there will be child-friendly and detailed reports about a home birth and the preparation for it.

Another sex podcast episode on the topic

Is that normal? – The sex podcast

“The worst sentence about giving birth: The main thing is that everything went well”

More about this podcast

Emergency operations, helplessness, fear and violence: Quite a few women experience terrible births. Too often they are left alone – because midwives and doctors sometimes fail.

What happened to Franziska Hohmuth during her first birth was never discussed in the preparation course. Doctors had to deliver her daughter via emergency cesarean section within a very short time and saved the child’s life. Franziska herself was left to her own devices and experienced hours of fear and uncertainty without consideration or care.

Negative birth experiences are not uncommon, says midwife and trauma consultant Martina Kruse: “Around 30 percent of women experience this, three percent develop post-traumatic stress disorder.” Humiliation, being yelled at, not being taken seriously – these are the most common things reported by women who found their birth negative. In some cases there is also physical violence through restraints and beatings.

In this episode, hosts Melanie Büttner and Sven Stockrahm talk to their guests about the taboo of bad birth experiences and why they are so common: lack of staff, lack of empathy and false expectations.

More about our guests and the episode

All sex podcast episodes also on

Do you know our book? Is that normal? Let’s talk about sex the way you want it. You can find it on YouTube an online reading to watch.

Follow the sex podcast hosts, the doctor and sex therapist Melanie Büttner and the ZEIT-ONLINE knowledge department head, Sven Stockrahm, on Instagram at @melaniebuettner1 and @svensonst and on Twitter: @svensonst.

More about the sex podcast

You speak every two weeks on the podcast “Is this normal?” about sexuality, relationships and love: the doctor and sex therapist Melanie Büttner (left) and the head of the knowledge department at ZEIT ONLINE as well as editor Health and Digital, Sven Stockrahm. © Julia Bradley for ZEIT ONLINE

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