There are many childbirth method courses out there these days, HypnoBirthing being one of them. But how do you choose one, and how do you know if it will work for you?
HypnoBirthing is a method that places the birthing parent in hypnosis using techniques such as deep breathing, scripts, and positive affirmations.
Read on to find out what hypnosis for labor is, how it works, and whether it helps to improve the birth experience.
This article will not only answer the question, “Does HypnoBirthing work,” but it will help you decide if it’s the right childbirth method for you.
What is HypnoBirthing?
HypnoBirthing is a childbirth course created to help put the birthing person in a state of hypnosis during their labor time.
It was designed to send birthing parents into a deeper and more focused thought or feeling — and to help create a positive view of what is happening to your body during the labor process.
Many hear the word “hypnosis” and think they will be knocked out or asleep during their labor and delivery. HypnoBirthing is not meant to put the birthing person to sleep, although some respond more deeply than others.
Instead, the skills you will learn in HypnoBirthing classes are aimed at helping you relax, and changing your state of mind to reduce fear and stress — ultimately improving your experience and helping to ease the process of labor.
Some may view childbirth and labor as scary, painful, and intense. Bad experiences can lead to birth trauma and postpartum PTSD.
HypnoBirthing introduces a new vocabulary to birthing parents that provides a more gentle approach. It offers a more positive view on labor, using gentle and positive words. For example, “surge” vs “contraction” and “blossoming” vs “dilation.”
When we change our vocabulary from words that reflect triggers or pain, this can allow a more positive and uplifting outlook on how our labor is going. The goal is to build trust in what’s happening in our body working on bringing our baby here in a healthy and positive way.
How does hypnosis for labor work?
According to researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, hypnosis is a very powerful means of changing the way we use our minds to control perception and our bodies.
Meditation and hypnosis are practices that people all over the world perform on a daily basis. They help the mind and body relax, reduce the amount of cortisol, and encourage endorphins.
HypnoBirthing works by incorporating meditation and self-hypnosis techniques into the birthing parent’s skill-set, so she is able to change her mental and physical state during labor and childbirth. Practicing these skills can be an important part of mentally preparing for labor.
When labor begins, our bodies may go into a fight or flight mode, due to the physical and psychological stress we suddenly experience. There may be discomfort, pain, and anxiety. As the body becomes tense, it may cause a delay in progress and also make the sensations feel more intense.
Our minds are powerful. It is believed that if one can train their mind to go into a hypnotic state during labor, stress and tension are eased. The goal of using hypnosis techniques is to allow the body to relax, and avoid fight or flight mode.
Epidurals are common because they allow the body to go into full relaxation. Hypnosis techniques can also help your body achieve relaxation — some even say HypnoBirthing is nature’s epidural.
But does HypnoBirthing work?
Something to remember when you are taking any childbirth course is that no two people will have the same exact experience in birth.
Many HypnoBirthing videos online show people having zero pain and being in full control. This may or may not be you. Sometimes people not experiencing the calm and “painless” birth they saw online feel frustrated and like they “failed” at HypnoBirthing.
Please hear me when I say YOU DIDN’T FAIL!
There is no failing in birth. No matter the outcome, you grew and then birthed a beautiful baby — and that is hard work, please be proud of yourself!
But does HypnoBirthing work as a method to ease labor?
As a birth professional, I would have to say yes — it sure can. It may look or feel different than what you have heard or seen online. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t work.
I have seen many parents feel more empowered and in control of their birth after using HypnoBirthing. They have even commented on how powerful it was during the last days of pregnancy, using the skills they learned to stay in a positive space.
In my personal experience, the mental and physical relaxation HypnoBirthing provided was very helpful during labor. However, I still felt every surge I received.
Pros and cons of HypnoBirthing
As doulas, we’ve worked with many clients who have taken HypnoBirthing. In their testimonials, they have said their labors were more calm and empowering. They were able to remember more, and use less pain medication. In a postpartum visit with a couple that used HypnoBirthing, they said they felt more connected as a couple before, during, and after their labor.
Here are some potential benefits of learning HypnoBirthing:
- Relaxation and more comfortable birth
- May decrease the length of labor
- Instilling a positive view on birth
- Decreased chance of interventions such as epidural
- Gaining a deeper understanding of the physics of birth and a healthy view on what’s happening to your body.
HypnoBirthing has a cost and time commitment attached to it. Depending on the location, classes can cost $100 to $500. It’s a 5-6 week course, with each class lasting 2 to 3 hours. This may be seen as a disadvantage. Life is busy, so a month and a half course may be less ideal for some.
Online courses are also available for those who are not able to attend, or interested in a group course. In-person courses may be seen as more ideal because it’s easier to practice and be in a group of people to relate to.
Please not both online and in-person hypnosis takes practice. The more study and practice, the more effective HypnoBirthing can be.
Here are some other potential challenges of HypnoBirthing as a childbirth method:
- The feeling of “failing” if the birth doesn’t go as planned
- Not being able to fully access the deep subconscious mind
- Not having enough time to study the material and scripts
Overall, HypnoBirthing is considered safe — hypnosis hasn’t shown any known negative effects on the body.
Every labor and delivery journey is different. It is important to remember that even those who have studied every day of their pregnancy may reach a point in their labor where they need deeper relief. You may decide to use tools offered at the birthing location, such as Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas), Fentynal, or The Epidural.
Please keep in mind that any choice you make doesn’t make you any less strong or amazing.
Is HypnoBirthing the right method for you?
So, how do you know if this is the right method for you? This is a very good question for one to ask themselves.
If you feel that you are able to tune into your breath, thought, and body, you likely would be a very good fit for HypnoBirthing.
Give it a try by downloading a meditation app or even just going in a quiet space in a room and taking one breath at a time. Feel your shoulders drop and your body become heavy and calm. Let your mind turn off and focus on that very moment you are in, and that only.
This is a way I was told by a good friend to see if it would work, and I loved it.
Also, keep in mind HypnoBirthing teaches much more than just meditation and relaxation. If you are looking to know more about what your body and baby do in labor, what each phase of labor looks like, how to encourage good fetal position, how your partner can support you, and more they go over all of that as well.
Some people, like myself, use HypnoBirthing only in the beginning of their labor, which allows them to enter the active phase in a healthier mind space. This is the best part about HypnoBirthing — you can use it however you need it, for your body and baby.
If you’re interested in hypnobirthing, you can easily find a doula with experience in it, who can teach you these helpful mental techniques.
Bottom line: How effective is hypnosis for labor?
HypnoBirthing has been around for more than 30 years and many birthing parents have had great success.
With practice and a healthy positive mindset, the brain is a powerful tool.
Although more research is needed, a large majority of HypnoBirthing couples enjoy the effect on their labor and even postpartum experience.
Resources to learn HypnoBirthing techniques
If you are interested in learning more about adding HypnoBirthing to your birth journey, you can visit HypnoBirthing.com to find a teacher near you.
You can also find the book HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method, by Marie Mongan at your local library, Amazon, and even listen to it on Audible.
YouTube has many HypnoBirthing stories to view and learn about as well. To start your own prep, take 10-15 minutes a night and focus on your breath. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, feel your jaw, shoulders, etc. drop and soften, releasing relaxation.
Ready to start planning your birth experience?
As I mentioned above, Julie and I have both practiced HypnoBirthing during our VBAC’s and really enjoyed it.
Grab your FREE Birth affirmation cards for your birth space. These are some of our favorite affirmations that we used for our VBAC births.
Wondering “where can I find doulas near me with hypnobirthing experience?” Check out our directory of doulas throughout the United States.