Hypnobirthing is a medication-free form of pain management for childbirth. It involves using visualization and affirmations to achieve relaxation and a sense of control during labor.
It is important to discuss your preferences for birth with your healthcare provider before your due date, says Olberz. But, if your birth plan takes a different turn, she recommends being prepared by having some tools on hand.
What is HypnoBirthing?
HypnoBirthing is a childbirth pain management technique that combines self-hypnosis, deep breathing exercises, and visualization to help a laboring person feel calm and confident during childbirth. It’s the trademarked method created by hypnotherapist Marie Mongan, though other hypnotherapists may offer classes in a similar style.
Mongan developed the technique partly based on her reading of Grantly Dick-Read’s Childbirth Without Fear, written in 1944. He theorized that a woman’s fear actually caused her body to make labor more difficult by causing blood to flow away from nonessential organs such as the uterus to large muscle groups, which causes more discomfort. He theorized that a woman could learn to relax her body through hypnosis to avoid that effect.
Olberz, a labor and delivery nurse who teaches HypnoBirthing, says that people who choose this method enter labor with “tangible tools and working knowledge of what their bodies can do.” If things take a turn and an intervention-free birth isn’t possible, she says, the techniques they learn will help them cope. “I believe that it’s a beautiful, peaceful way to approach your birth,” she says. “It allows you to really embrace the sacred and raw aspects of birth.” Despite common misconceptions, hypnosis is not mind control or sleep.
How does HypnoBirthing work?
Hypnobirthing uses deep relaxation, breathing technique and positive visualization to re-train the mind for better birth outcomes. It dispels many of the myths about childbirth and teaches you that the pain you experience is normal and natural, and can be managed without drugs or pain relief medications.
Research has shown that hypnobirthing can help reduce the time spent in labor, fewer interventions and a more positive delivery outcome for both moms and babies. Having confidence and being able to relax can also reduce the need for drugs to ease pain during labour and in postpartum.
In a Hypnobabies class, you will learn how to enter self-hypnosis instantly and how to practice relaxation and visualization techniques in advance of your pregnancy, as well as during the actual childbirth. Hypnobabies also teaches you to turn a breech or posterior baby and to lower your blood pressure and eliminate nausea, back and hip pain using these same hypnosis methods.
Kristen Olberz, RN, CH, HBCE and Hypnobirthing instructor at Portland Providence Medical Center, says that the method allows her clients to “be OK with what’s happening during their birth and to feel fully supported by staff and loved ones.” This approach is vital because pain, fear and tension cause dysfunctional labour patterns, and those patterns can lead to the use of Pitocin or C-section.
What are the potential benefits of HypnoBirthing?
Those who practice HypnoBirthing often report a positive birth experience. They describe their muscles as working optimally, not feeling painfully, and a sense of calm and control over the process. And according to Kim Wildner, who teaches the technique in Appleton and Fond-du-Lac, Wisconsin, HypnoBirthing can also help create an easier postpartum recovery, as well as a positive birth memory for moms.
The 3Keys HypnoBirthing program focuses on teaching you to access a level of deep relaxation that can’t be achieved without the hypnosis element. It is this state of total, effortless relaxation that will allow you to remain in harmony with your body and baby during the labor and birth process.
HypnoBirthing is not for everyone, however. Some women prefer to work with a hypnotherapist for guidance, and others find self-hypnosis easier. If you are considering hypnosis, be sure to consider your options carefully and ask for recommendations from health care providers and friends.
If you decide to give it a try, be prepared to practice regularly so that your mind and body are in sync during your childbirth. Despite the myths that surround hypnosis—which involve swinging pocket watches and a shady stage show—HypnoBirthing is not mind control or deep sleep, but rather a natural method of relaxation. And it can be used to create the birth you want, whether that’s a natural or medicated one.
Where can I find HypnoBirthing classes?
You can find HypnoBirthing classes in a variety of settings, depending on your location and your preferences. You might want to look for a class that is pro natural birth, has a relaxed atmosphere and a small group of women to build relationships with. You can also opt for a private childbirth class, where you receive one-on-one attention from a certified birth educator and can practice breathing exercises and relaxation techniques.
Other options for childbirth preparation include Lamaze or the Bradley Method classes, which teach you how to work with your medical provider, coping strategies and a wide range of comfort measures. They may also address potential medical interventions and help you navigate them with true informed consent.
Other birthing methods focus more on releasing personal and cultural fears surrounding childbirth, with an emphasis on visualization, relaxation and breathing techniques. Some even use hypnosis to reduce anxiety and prepare the body for labor. Examples of these include the Mongan Method, and Hypnobirth or Hypnobabies, which also offer a self-hypnosis component that is used for pain relief during labor.