Hypnobirthing combines visualization, breathing exercises, and affirmations to help a laboring woman through discomfort. It supposedly brings the body into a state of deep relaxation, which allows muscles to work the way they should during childbirth.
It can be practiced one-on-one with a hypnotherapist or in group classes. Many birthing centers offer Hypnobirthing courses.
Birthing with Confidence
Hypnobirthing proponents believe that pregnant people who are adequately prepared will be able to activate a deep relaxation response that will help them cope with the discomforts of labor and delivery. The method, developed by Marie Mongan and used in classes such as Hypnobabies and Empowered Birth ATX, combines visualization, breathing exercises and affirmations with self-hypnosis techniques. The approach aims to align the mind and emotions so that the birthing muscles work in harmony-as Nature designed.
Pregnant people who take hypnosis classes often play a tape of verbal affirmations that they can repeat to themselves during childbirth, or they may use a visualization-such as a flower opening its petals-to picture what is happening in their bodies during contractions. Many women and birthing partners say that the hypnosis helps them focus on the positive aspects of the experience, rather than the pain or discomfort.
However, Olberz cautions that it is essential to consider and plan for the possibility that your labor will not go according to plan. Preconceived notions about childbirth, as well as fears triggered by real (such as being chased by a monster) or imagined threats (the bad guy from the scary movie hiding in the shower), can trigger the fight or flight physiological response that can lead to tension and pain. It is also important to be physically fit and emotionally healthy.
Birthing with Peace
Many people who use hypnobirthing describe the sensations of childbirth as a “pressure” rather than a “pain.” This is because they are able to train their brains to elicit a deep state of relaxation during labor, which allows their bodies to work in harmony with their natural birthing muscles.
Hypnobabies classes teach a variety of techniques to reduce pain and fear and encourage the mom-to-be to relax into her body’s own natural ability to handle childbirth, all while keeping her comfortable and mobile. This approach is also highly effective in reducing the length of labor, making it possible for mothers to have shorter and more comfortable births.
Often, women who attend hypnobabies classes will also take a Lamaze class (the most common childbirth philosophy in the United States). Like Hypnobabies, Lamaze teaches breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. However, the Lamaze philosophy takes a more neutral position regarding pain medication, encouraging moms to make informed decisions about their choices.
The difference between hypnobirthing and other childbirth preparation methods lies in the fact that hypnosis is taught in a series of 6 week classes. Many of these classes are offered through Babies in Bloom, or visit Coastal Hypnobabies for more information and week by week class breakdowns. Hypnobabies, which is based on the Painless Childbirth Program by Master Hypnotherapist Gerald Kein, combines childbirth education with medical-grade hypnosis.
Birthing with Joy
Joy is an experienced doula, Hypnobirthing instructor, and placenta encapsulator servicing Northwest Indiana, Southwest Michigan, Chicagoland area since 2015. She provides physical, emotional, and informational support before, during and after pregnancy. She has a passion for helping women find their power and strength in labor, birth, and parenting. Joy teaches with compassion and builds strong relationships with her clients.
Hypnobirthing is a medication-free pain management technique that’s supposed to bring your body into a state of deep relaxation during childbirth. It combines visualization and breathing exercises with affirmations and hypnosis. Some people practice self-hypnosis at home using a CD of verbal affirmations or a guided meditation, while others work one-on-one with a certified hypnotherapist or take classes in person or online, like the Mongan Method or Hypnobabies.
During hypnosis, the laboring woman visualizes relaxing scenes, including a flower opening its petals or a waterfall. The aim is to relax the muscles and calm the mind. In addition, a laboring mother may receive prompts from her partner to help keep her focused on the goal of a natural childbirth.
Some research suggests that hypnosis might promote shorter first stages of labor, higher infant Apgar scores, and less use of pain medication during labor. But more study is needed to support these claims. For now, if you’re considering this option, ask your health care provider for a referral to a hypnotherapist who specializes in childbirth.
Birthing with Love
Unlike other natural childbirth classes that often only teach relaxation and breathing techniques, Hypnobabies takes women far beyond deep relaxation. It uses medical-grade hypnosis that helps them train their inner minds to transform birthing sensations from painful to comfortable or even pleasurable.
Women who use this method report that they remain calm and in control throughout labor, even when things don’t go as planned. This may be because hypnobirthing helps them release their fears and anxieties about pain. In addition, they enter into labor with tools and knowledge to help them cope if complications arise.
Some people interested in hypnobirthing work with a certified hypnotherapist, who will play a tape of verbal affirmations to help them achieve relaxation during a session. Others learn how to do self-hypnosis, in which they will visualize a relaxing scene or listen to a calming recording during pregnancy and throughout labor.
Hypnobirthing is based on the work of obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read, who wrote Childbirth Without Fear in 1944. It combines visualization, breath exercises and prompts from partners to help the birthing person stay comfortable. It’s an alternative to using epidurals. While the idea of a pain-free birth is enticing, research shows that there’s much more to having a pain-free childbirth than just being relaxed and having a positive attitude. Some women will still experience pain and discomfort, despite their best efforts.