Hypnobirthing teaches pregnant people and their partners how to use relaxation techniques and breathing exercises to help manage pain during labor. It is one of the most popular childbirth philosophies in the United States.
Olberz says that women who choose this method enter labour “with tangible tools to stay calm, even if things take a turn.” She adds that Hypnobirthing can lead to a more satisfying birth experience overall.
What is HypnoBirthing?
HypnoBirthing is a childbirth pain management technique based on hypnosis and relaxation. It combines visualization, breathing exercises, and positive affirmations. The aim is to bring the body into a deep state of relaxation, so the muscles can work as they should during labor. It is a trademarked method created by a Harvard University Ford Foundation fellow and award-winning hypnotherapist, Marie Mongan. You may also hear it called Hypnobabies or the Painless Childbirth Program. It is similar to hypnotherapy used to control chronic pain, such as headaches.
Olberz says that she often sees the benefits of HypnoBirthing in her clients. She says that she finds that birthing people using this method enter their birthing experience with “tangible tools and a working knowledge of what their bodies can do.”
They can use those tools to stay calm and present during labor, even when things take a turn and an intervention is needed. It can also help them have a less stressful postpartum recovery and a more positive birth memory, she adds. HypnoBirthing isn’t the only way to do childbirth, but some research suggests it might result in a shortened first stage of labor,1 better infant Apgar scores,2 and lower use of pain medication during labor.
How does HypnoBirthing work?
According to HypnoBirthing proponents, hypnosis works by teaching women that their bodies are naturally designed to do what they need them to do during childbirth. The hypnosis training helps pregnant people to release the fear and tension associated with childbirth, which in turn allows their bodies to relax and create natural pain relievers.
Kristen Olberz, an RN who has witnessed more than 1,500 births, says Hypnobabies is a great way to help expectant mothers stay positive about their upcoming childbirth experience and reduce the need for medication during labor. Olberz adds that Hypnobabies teaches parents how to “deprogram” themselves from negative childbirth messages and to learn and use medical-grade hypnosis techniques.
3Keys Hypnobabies also includes a thorough childbirth education curriculum. The class usually consists of five 90-minute sessions and is taught by trained practitioners. In a 3Keys Hypnobabies session, expectant mothers learn about the anatomy of their bodies and how their birthing muscles work in perfect harmony when they are relaxed. Hypnosis is the key to this relaxation because it frees a woman from resistance that can cause problems such as stalled labor.
Hypnobabies instructors teach expecting mothers and their birthing partners to use hypnosis together. The birthing partner listens to hypnosis recordings and attends classes with the mother in order to learn how to support her throughout labor. Having a relaxed birthing partner can be a huge comfort to the mother and can even make the labor process more enjoyable.
What is the difference between HypnoBirthing and other childbirth methods?
Like other childbirth methods, HypnoBirthing helps couples prepare for labor and delivery by using relaxation techniques. However, the primary difference is that HypnoBirthing uses hypnosis to help laboring people break what English obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read called “Fear-Tension-Pain syndrome.” That’s because when women are afraid, their bodies direct blood away from nonessential organs and toward large muscle groups such as the legs. When the muscles are exhausted, it becomes harder to deliver a baby.
In addition to using hypnosis, Hypnobirthing encourages a partner to participate in classes by becoming their support system during childbirth. This is important because studies have shown that women who are not fully supported during labor tend to experience more pain and have longer, more difficult births.
Other childbirth methods include Lamaze, which is also based on hypnosis. But, unlike Hypnobirthing, Lamaze focuses on the power of breathing and is less focused on relaxation. It’s also more structured and offers fewer individualized sessions than Hypnobirthing.
Another popular method is body-centered hypnosis for childbirth, which was developed by Dr. Gayle Peterson and is based on somatic psychology theory and Ericksonian hypnosis. This preparation works best for women who want to give birth in a hospital, which is why it’s often offered as an alternative to Hypnobirthing. It’s not as specialized and doesn’t work for women who want to have a natural childbirth at home.
Where can I learn HypnoBirthing?
A Licensed HypnoBirthing Practitioner can teach you the skills to relax deeply, prepare your mind for a calm birth and help you use your body’s natural anesthesia during labor. She can also answer any questions you might have about the program.
Each week you’ll read a little in your book and listen to one hypnosis “script” daily (that week’s CD). You’ll learn how to instantly enter self-hypnosis during a contraction by using a simple cue. The more you practice this, the easier it will be to do during your birthing day.
This is a beautiful experience that will melt away any tension or tightness in your body. You will also practice the shoulder touch command for deep relaxation that your birth partner can use with you and the gentle massage of your arm from the top to the tips of your fingers for a feeling of soft floating anesthesia.
Many women who choose hypnosis say that their labor is quiet and gentle. Some feel that their labor is shorter because there is less resistance in the body from the muscles. Many doctors, nurses and midwives are amazed at how peaceful a hypnobirth can be. This is because the woman is relaxed and her body lets go of the massive muscular effort needed to push a baby out.