The Ultimate Guide to HypnoBirthing

Updated: March 24, 2020
Have you heard of the concept of HypnoBirthing? HypnoBirthing aims to help expecting mothers to deal with fear or anxiety surrounding birth, and involves using self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques to relax the body before and during labor. Experts weigh in on how it works, who should use it, and more.
The ultimate guide to deciding if HypnoBirthing is right for you

Giving birth can be a stressful experience, even if you feel well-prepared. Luckily, there are techniques which you can research in advance that can benefit you when the big moment arrives. Enter HypnoBirthing.

More: What Are The Differences Between Doulas, Midwives And Doctors?

What Is HypnoBirthing?

HypnoBirthing aims to help expecting mothers to deal with fear or anxiety surrounding birth, and involves using self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques to relax the body before and during labor. The goal of HypnoBirthing is that birth will happen more quickly and painlessly because the body doesn’t fight the natural process when it is in a relaxed state.

HypnoBirthing was created by Marie “Mickey” Mongan, a hypnotherapist, hypnoanesthesiologist, and instructor of hypnotherapy. Prior to her passing in 2019, she was honored with several awards for her work, and was a published author. HypnoBirthing is also trademarked as “The Mongan Method.”

How Does HypnoBirthing Work?

There are a few elements which make up HypnoBirthing:

  • Controlled Breathing:  One technique involves breathing deeply in and out of the nose. Breathe in to the count of four, and out to the count of seven. In the second, you lengthen the inhale to seven and keep the exhale to seven. This style of breathing is supposed to trigger your parasympathetic nervous system.
  • Focus on Positive Words and Thoughts:  In the same way you try to look for the bright side of situations in life, labor is no different. Focus on positive thoughts and words with an uplifting spin, like “surge” instead of “contraction.”
  • Guided Visualization:  Through guided visualization techniques, the idea is that you give birth in a daydream-like state, while still being aware of what is going on. HeHe Stewart, a doula and maternity concierge based in Boston explains: “I particularly love the mantras and the "cues" that HypnoBirthing uses! I also love the relaxation that they dive into plus the focus on what's happening during labor so you have an idea of why you are feeling the sensations you're feeling.”

How Does It Help?

There are more than a few specific benefits which have been associated with HypnoBirthing:

  • Naturally manage pain
  • Leave the mom feeling more in control
  • Shorten labor
  • Lessen the need for medical interventions
  • Assist women who have experienced birth and labor-related trauma

Who Should Consider HypnoBirthing?

Laura Jabbour, CNM, a nurse midwife at Huntington Hospital suggests: “Lots of moms are looking for alternative pain management strategies to help cope with the discomfort of labor. I would recommend HypnoBirthing to expecting moms who would like to avoid using pain medication for labor and birth. It can also be really beneficial for women with anxiety surrounding the birth process. HypnoBirthing can be really effective at helping moms manage pain in labor. It also helps women stay calm, even when labor gets very intense.”

HypnoBirthing can also be a helpful technique for those suffering from pregnancy complications. During a recent podcast interview, Kate Middleton described how she turned to HypnoBirthing after suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum throughout her pregnancies: “It was through hyperemesis that I really realized the power of the mind over the body because I really had to try everything and anything to try and help me through it.”

The Duchess of Cambridge added, explaining to the Happy Mum, Happy Baby host Giovanna Fletcher: “There’s levels of it. I’m not going to say that [Prince] William was standing there sort of, chanting sweet nothings at me. He definitely wasn’t! I didn’t even ask him about it, but it was just something I wanted to do for myself.”

She continued: “I saw the power of it really, the meditation and the deep breathing and things like that – that they teach you in hypnobirthing – when I was really sick and actually I realized that this was something I could take control of, I suppose, during labor.”

How Is HynoBirthing Different From Lamaze?

There is some overlap between HypnoBirthing and Lamaze, which focuses on pain management techniques, so mothers can choose to utilize elements from each technique if they wish to do so. HeHe explained: “HypnoBirthing is a relaxation based technique and Lamaze is a breathwork/breathing based technique. There is overlap between the two so that means you aren't missing out on breathing techniques if you choose HypnoBirthing and you aren't giving up relaxation techniques if you choose Lamaze. It's truly up to you and whatever feels most aligned with your birth goals (plus what you have access to).”

Laura also chimed in: “Moms who use HypnoBirthing techniques listen to pre-taped relaxation recordings throughout their pregnancies in an effort to train their brains to focus on the recordings rather than the discomfort of labor. Lamaze uses mainly breathing techniques for pain management.”

The Bradley Method is another you may encounter in preparation for delivery. This is focused on labor and birth being natural, and typically the mother-to-be relies on the support of someone like a doula or labor coach. All three methods aim to give mothers the most positive birthing experience possible.

How Can I Learn More?

If you are strongly considering utilizing HypnoBirthing, it is recommended that you register for a series of five in-person classes for the best learning experience possible. These classes are typically taken in the second trimester or early in the third.

Looking for more information about labor and giving birth? Here’s everything you need to know about the mucus plug and its role in the birthing process.

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