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Natural birth has gotten a lot more popular in recent years. And hypnobirthing is something that women (even celebrities and Duchesses) have used during labor. No, it’s not the same thing as the hypnosis you see on TV. But it can help you have a better birth experience.
As a mom of 6, natural birth is something I’ve done lots of research on, for both myself and my doula clients. So what is hypnobirthing and is it right for you? Read on and find out!
What is Hypnobirthing?
First-time moms can get nervous when labor pains start to kick in. They may have heard plenty of childbirth horror stories from friends and family. Hypnobirthing is one method that can help ease the birthing process. It focuses on mind-body techniques for natural pain relief, instead of medical interventions.
Women learn to use deep breathing techniques, self-hypnosis, positive affirmations, and visualizations. These help promote deep relaxation and pain relief during birth.
Award-winning hypnotherapist Marie F. Mongan. first coined the term hypnobirthing in her 1989 book. Some of the ideas are based on the tenets of hypnotherapy. Mongan mainly based her methods on the work of two respected natural birth advocates.
One was Dr. Jonathan Dye of Buffalo New York. The other was English obstetrician, Dr. Grantly Dick-Read. Mongan had read Dr. Dick-Read’s book, Childbirth Without Fear, while pregnant with her first child. She used the techniques she learned to have a better birth.
Hypnobirthing’s philosophy seeks to dispel fear about the birth process. Instead of “contractions”, you have waves or surges. It also focuses on relaxing and positive expectations. The main goal is to have a positive birth experience.
Hypnobirthing is popular in a natural birth setting. But, you can also use it with conventional healthcare. That said, there are a few different birth methods to consider. You can even take classes in more than one method and combine what you learn.
HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method
The Mongan Method is the original hypnobirthing method developed by hypnotherapist Marie Mongan. It emphasizes that the mom has a choice about the environment baby is born into. It uses special breathing techniques, relaxation, visualization, meditation, nutrition, and positive body toning. These help prepare the body for birth and support the delivery process.
This spin-off of the original Mongan Method focuses on deep relaxation. It uses repeated phrases that drill positive affirmations into the subconscious brain. A partner helps repeat these phrases during labor, or mom can say them to herself. It creates a positive and encouraging space during pregnancy and birth.
Hypnobabies teaches medical-grade hypnosis techniques. The method claims these techniques are strong enough to even use for surgery without anesthetics.
The Lamaze Method came out around the same time as hypnobirthing in the 1950s. Obstetrician Ferdinand Lamaze brought this method to France from what he saw in Russia. He helped women prep for labor with breathwork and positive expectations.
Lamaze has evolved over the decades. But its focus on breathing techniques for pain management remains the same. It helps women learn more about the natural process of labor and what to expect.
The Bradley Method
The Bradley Method is another method for natural labor and birth. Also known as “husband coached childbirth” it includes prenatal nutrition and exercise. Bradley also stresses relaxation for an easier birth. Unlike hypnobirthing, it focuses on teaching about all stages of birth. The method not only covers pregnancy and the birth process but postpartum too.
How Does Hypnobirthing Work?
Hypnobirthing works by lowering stress hormones. Stress can cause a more painful, drawn-out birth process. These hormones constrict uterine muscles, increase pain, and slow labor and delivery. Hypnobirthing increases positive hormones, like endorphins or oxytocin. As a result, there’s natural relaxation and pain relief.
Benefits of Hypnobirthing
Here are some of the reported benefits of hypnobirthing:
- Less fear, more joy – Happier mothers and babies.
- Pain management – The endorphins boost can help lower pain. This can help reduce the need for pain medications like epidurals.
- Shorter 1st and 2nd phase labor – A relaxed body makes the whole process easier.
- Less need to induce– Hypnobirthing may help reduce the need to induce labor.
- Fewer medical interventions — Having a baby is a natural process. When a woman has the support she needs, everything is more likely to happen as it should.
- Fewer pre-term and low-weight babies – These techniques can help the baby come at the right time.
- An alert baby– With hypnobirthing, babies are more likely to be alert. That also means nursing right away.
- Better APGAR scores — A higher APGAR score means baby is less stressed.
- Less Post-Partum Depression – Less stress during labor has long-term benefits. It seems to help keep mom’s emotions more balanced after birth.
A 2011 review found that self-hypnosis worked better than standard medical care and childbirth classes to reduce pain. An Australian study also found lower C-section rates with HypnoBirthing. Laboring moms also needed fewer epidurals with over half not opting for any pain meds at all. The women reported feeling more confident, focused, and in control.
A 2013 randomized controlled trial compared women who learned hypnosis to a group who learned mindfulness techniques. The hypnosis group won out with more women in that group reporting a better birth experience.
In 2019 researchers looked at how hypnosis could help after birth too. Women who did hypnotherapy had less post-partum anxiety and depression.
There really aren’t any downsides. All these methods support the body through this natural process. There are several resources you can tap into for more support.
There are many hypnobirthing resources available. You can find books, podcasts, and courses to help provide guidance along your journey to the due date.
You can pick up an old-fashioned book or read it on your tablet. There are even audiobook options. I also have a list of the pregnancy books I read to prep for labor here.
Other Helpful Pregnancy Prep Books
While not hypnobirthing, Bradley and Lamaze methods were really helpful during my labors.
I’ve found that general childbirth books have drawn more and more from these methods over the years.
Hypnobirthing Podcasts and Audiobooks
Hypnobirthing and other natural birth podcasts can be really convenient. They can help you learn the techniques while doing household chores or on the go. You can even listen to the full books on apps like audible:
You can likely find others out there on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Some channels may only have three or five episodes. But you can still get some valuable information and personal stories.
There are plenty of hypnobirthing childbirth classes online. There’s even an option for C-section mamas. Here are just a few:
Studying from the comfort of home is convenient, but it can also be nice to learn with others in person.
Local Hypnobirthing Educators
If you’re interested in local classes, they do exist! There are certified hypnobirthing educators out there. Here’s how to find an educator near you:
Attending a class with other moms-to-be can be really encouraging. It can also be a good way to find other like-minded women who are into wellness and natural methods.
The Bottom Line
Many women find Hypnobirthing to be a great way to manage labor pain and reduce stress. Whether you use it alone, or in combination with other natural methods. It won’t work exactly the same for all women in every situation, but it’s a great tool to have. Less stress for a more positive birth is always a good thing!
Have you tried hypnobirthing or any other relaxation techniques for giving birth? Would you consider it? Share below!
- Varner C. A. (2015). Comparison of the Bradley Method and HypnoBirthing Childbirth Education Classes. The Journal of perinatal education, 24(2), 128–136.
- Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2017, November 15). natural childbirth. Encyclopedia Britannica.
- Hypnobirthing. (n.d.).Marie “Mickey” Mongan: Marie Mongan – HypnoBirthing Institute Founder.
- Mongan, M. (2005). HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method: A natural approach to a safe, easier, more comfortable birthing. Health Publications.
- Lamaze International. (n.d.) What is Lamaze?
- Moore, J. (2013). Birthing outcomes from an Australian HypnoBirthing programme. British Journal of Midwifery, 20(8).
- Landolt, A. S., & Milling, L. S. (2011). The efficacy of hypnosis as an intervention for labor and delivery pain: a comprehensive methodological review. Clinical psychology review, 31(6), 1022–1031. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2011.06.002
- Werner, A., Uldbjerg, N., Zachariae, R., Wu, C. S., & Nohr, E. A. (2013). Antenatal hypnosis training and childbirth experience: a randomized controlled trial. Birth (Berkeley, Calif.), 40(4), 272–280. https://doi.org/10.1111/birt.12071
- Beevi, Z., Low, W. Y., & Hassan, J. (2019). The Effectiveness of Hypnosis Intervention in Alleviating Postpartum Psychological Symptoms. The American journal of clinical hypnosis, 61(4), 409–425. https://doi.org/10.1080/00029157.2018.1538870