For my fourth pregnancy and childbirth, I decided I wanted a natural birth after 3 previous medicated childbirths. Natural birth fell more in line with my new beliefs about my health and my children’s health, so I really wanted to give it a shot, but I was TERRIFIED. My first childbirth hadn’t been unmedicated but my epidural had not worked and it was a very traumatic and painful experience.
Around the time I became pregnant, I started hearing about hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing is a technique of going into hypnosis during labor to relax and relieve pain through the childbirth experience. I mean, could there be more of an oxymoron than relaxing childbirth? I didn’t think so, but I knew that I needed something to help me overcome my fears and deal with labor, so I decided to check it out.
There seemed to be two main hypnobirthing techniques that were most popular at the time, Hypnobirthing – the Mongan Method and Hypnobabies. I read reviews, watched YouTube videos, and researched my heart out up until my 25th week when I decided to go with the Hypnobabies Home Study Course.
Why I Chose Hypnobabies
I ended up choosing Hypnobabies mainly because it offered a comprehensive home study course. The Mongan Method was available in book form, or you could also take classes, but there weren’t any super close to me, and I liked the idea of self-study. There is also a training and certification course for doulas who want to offer Hypnobabies support and techniques to their clients. Another reason I liked Hypnobabies was the technique that allowed you to have your eyes open and be alert between contractions. I was absolutely dumbfounded at the videos on Youtube of these women in transition, completely calm and under control using their Hypnobabies techniques and tracks.
The Hypnobabies Self-Study Course comes with a 5 week study guide and workbook, 6 hypnosis CD’s (mine also came with two bonus CD’s) containing 2 tracks each, a quick reference guide, and multiple handouts (a nutrition guide, handouts for medical personnel at the hospital, information about anterior and posterior positioning, etc).
I was very, very impressed with all of the Hypnobabies materials in regards to how informative they are. Hypnobabies covers everything in depth from nutrition and exercise to the mechanics of birth and how to mentally prepare, right alongside learning the actual self-hypnosis techniques. You could read only the Hypnobabies course and be pretty well-informed on pregnancy and birth!
My only complaint about the Hypnobabies materials was that it all felt like it needed better design and organization. My husband and I both were a little lost on where to start, especially his part in it all. The information is in there, but it is just hard to find. This is why I think the overall design and organization could have been better. It feels slightly amateurish for such a great product.
The Hypnobabies technique is all about un-brainwashing ourselves from the social and cultural depictions of birth that we have been exposed to all our lives here in the west. Not only does it emphasize positivity surrounding birth, but the hypnosis tracks re-enforce this positivity on a subconscious level.
First, the Hypnobabies user is to replace all negative pregnancy and birth language with positive. For example, “contraction” becomes “pressure wave”, “pain” becomes “discomfort”. Second, there is an affirmation track that is to be listened to each day of your pregnancy. This is about 30 minutes of positive affirmations regarding pregnancy and birth, for example “My body is healthy and whole” and “During my comfortable birthing time, I remain perfectly calm between my powerful birthing waves”. And finally, there are the hypnosis tracks that are either to be listened to daily to reprogram the subconscious during deep relaxation, or a few to be saved and listened to during the actual birthing time. In my bonus CD’s there was even a track specifically for my husband to relax and get his mind ready to support me. The workbook and tracks also teach the “finger-drop technique”, which is how you put yourself into hypnosis, turning an imaginary light switch on, off, or to center switch (center switch is a state of hypnosis when you are still “under” but able to open your eyes and interact with those around you). Also at your disposal are word cues for yourself or your partner to say to put you into an instant state of hypnosis or relaxation, like my favorite one, “Peace”.
Hypnobabies claims that if you study the workbook and practice with the tracks daily for 45 minutes throughout your pregnancy that you can learn to create your own “hypnoanesthesia”. In other words, you will program yourself to relax so deeply that you will only feel pressure in your birthing muscles, no pain.
Here are the statistics of success that I found on their website:
Statistics: The following are statistics for Hypnobabies Childbirth Hypnosis only:
(based on our very successful 6 week course, and 18 total hours of instruction)
1) Very Comfortable births – 70-75%. Women who report that they felt mostly pressure, tightening or mild cramping sensations.
2) Comfortable until transition – 15%. Pressure only, until the 10-60 minute transitional period, with mild to intense degrees of sensation thereafter. “Very manageable.”
3) Comfortable until active labor – 10%, with mild to intense degrees of sensation thereafter. This group can have any number of things that affect their birth experiences; prodromal labor, posterior or asynclitic presentations that do not resolve, other labor complications, emotional issues, lack of support, or they simply did not do their homework! (45 minutes a day) Hypnosis for childbirth won’t help a mother or a couple that is not willing to do the work involved in preparing for their baby’s birth.
My Experience with HypnoBabies
The short version: While the natural birth of my son was no walk in the park and certainly nowhere near pain-free, I felt Hypnobabies to be absolutely invaluable, and I would use it again in a heartbeat.
The long version: I went into learning Hypnobabies with a very open mind, especially considering how traumatic my first birth (in which two epidurals did not work) had been for me. I was the perfect Hypnobabies student. I decided that I would study so much that I would be able to recite the lessons back in forth in my sleep, because I really wanted the pain-free birth that I was seeing in so many birth videos online.
Every morning of my pregnancy I went for a 30 minute walk, headphones in, and listened to my Joyful Affirmations track. I had it memorized. I could still recite it to you now, six months later. Every afternoon I would read the study guide, listen to my assigned Hypnobabies track, practice the finger-drop techniques alone and with my husband. The last month of pregnancy, we spent 30 minutes each night having practice labor, using our techniques together. I practiced going into hypnosis lying down, sitting on a birthing ball, walking around, laying in bed, driving to the birthing center for appointments.
So it wasn’t from lack of practice that I did end up experiencing major pain at the end of my birthing time. I’m not 100% sure what exactly happened but I think it was a combination of back labor (baby turned the wrong way at transition), anxiety when I felt my first wave of pain, and a little linebacker of a baby whose shoulders are broad like his daddy and got stuck. But up until 8cm dilated, which was 10 of the 12 hours of labor, I was comfortable and able to use my deep hypnosis and “peace” cue effectively. Just hearing the voice on the hypnosis track, the one I was so familiar with and associated with being deeply relaxed or sleepy, was very comforting and relaxing during that time. When I hit the intense pressure waves at the beginning of transition, I was in the birthing pool. The pressure waves would crash through me like lightning and although the first 5 seconds were painful, I could say Peace (very loudly, like a roar) and bring the pain down a few levels, making it manageable.
I do firmly believe that without Hypnobabies (as well as an incredible midwife who was experienced and knowledgeable), I would not have been able to have the natural birth that I wanted. Even if the labor had been painful throughout, I really appreciated having Hypnobabies through my pregnancy. It kept me focused on the positive, helped me feel healthy and strong, helped me to relax deeply each day, and took away so much anxiety surrounding childbirth. I would recommend Hypnobabies to ANYONE who is pregnant- midwife or doctor, home birth or hospital, vaginal birth or c-section. It is an incredibly powerful tool for dealing with all the anxiety and self-doubt surrounding pregnancy and childbirth.
The other day I accidentally turned on a Hypnobabies self-hypnosis track and I felt a twinge of sentimental sadness that the beautiful voice of relaxation wasn’t in my daily life anymore 🙂 Maybe I need to order some of their post-birth tracks!!