Where once it was assumed that a pregnant woman would opt for some form of pain management during labour, these days many mums-to-be are exploring a more natural approach. One such method, hypnobirthing, is steadily on the rise. The technique has gained ground partly through word-of-mouth, and partly through celebrity advocates like Fearne Cotton (Kate Middleton, Kate Moss and Angelina Jolie are also said to be fans).
Claire teaches the technique during antenatal classes.
"They are very much focused on the mind-body connection. You leave the course with a bag of tools to help you get into a calm place, and stay in it when you're thrown curve balls."
The typical client attending her courses varies.
Claire explains that a sense of fear and panic in the subconscious can "cause the birthing muscles to tighten and tense up". "Whether it's real or not - your subconscious mind holds the fear.
"People have misconceptions about hypnobirthing," she adds. "One of the biggest being that it is only for people who have a natural birth with no pain relief." She says couples who have attended her classes have experienced "inductions, c-sections, epidural and pethidine" and report that hypnobirthing helped them, no matter what kind of birth they had.
"Typically, the dads will be a bit sceptical," she adds, "but by the end of the course they flip their thinking when they realise that they have a very practical part to play."
Claire had an opportunity to test her teachings when her own birth experience proved less straightforward than she hoped. "I ended up having a planned c-section because my baby was breech," she explains.
"At the time it was terrible to think that I wouldn't be able to experience a natural birth and experience everything that all my couples had spoken about, but what it taught me was that you can't control everything and all you can do is prepare yourself to have the right birth for you and your baby on the day."
Kathy Cleere is a Parent Education midwife in Dublin's Coombe hospital where she implemented hypnobirthing training. She says it's one of the Coombe's most popular courses, and is largely designed to "take away that massive fear about childbirth".
"Hypnobirthing is just a tool," she adds. "It doesn't mean they're going to have a natural, normal birth. The key thing in early labour is understanding how your body works. I meet so many women who come to antenatal clinics and say that they don't want to know anything.
"We see people in labour who are so frightened that their body just can't work properly. If they could just hand themselves over and let their body do what it is meant to do - it takes the fear away."
As for the 'hypnotism' aspect? Kathy says she isn't hypnotising anybody. "It's just deep relaxation," she explains. "The couples have to put the work in. The first class is all about planting a positive seed. It's looking forward to the birth and not dreading the birth, and then they build on that, so each time they listen to the audio it's like watering the seed of positivity."