Does the thought of natural childbirth frighten you? Would you prefer not to take any medications that could affect you or your soon-to-be-born baby? If you would like to experience childbirth in its fullest, but don’t wish experience the pain, HypnoBirthing may just be the answer for you!
What is HypnoBirthing?
HypnoBirthing is a relatively modern method of child birthing which interlaces self-hypnosis, visualization and breathing. The program itself is fairly uncomplicated and simple. It focuses on preparing new mothers for a calm and peaceful birthing experience. HypnoBirthing helps instill trust in letting your body and baby do what happens naturally.
The History of HypnoBirthing
To Marie Mongan, a young New Hampshire English teacher, childbirth did not have to be a sterile birthing experience filled with drugs that knocked you out nor an excruciating experience with painful contractions and pushing . . . the seemingly only two choices for most of history. She explains, "Most women were totally anesthetized and out cold, and their babies were taken from them with forceps; except for the very few who didn't make it to the hospital and had them by the side of the road."
Not at all pleased with how childbirth was handled, Marie devised her own method to avoid the “system” by practicing a form of self-hypnosis which helped her to relax and imagine a calm and painless birth. What had initially given her this idea was when she witnessed a cat giving birth to its kittens. When a dog interrupted the cat’s birthing process, the cat’s labor ceased and the mother cat took her kittens away to a quieter place to resume the labor.
"I always believed that it didn't make sense that it [labor] had to be painful," Mongan said. "It's a physiological law that all muscles in the body work unless there is something wrong. What could be wrong with procreation of the species?" Her self-hypnosis method is now a registered trademark and women are currently practicing her technique in 34 countries across the globe.
How It Works
HypnoBirthing begins by taking away the negativity associated with childbirth. For example, instead of labor pains or contractions, they’re called “surges.” When the actual birthing begins, it’s not referred to as pain, but rather pressure. By removing the fear associated with pain, it opens the door to a much calmer experience.
A regular contributor on such networks as CNBC, Bravo, and Fox, Nancy B. Irwin, PsyD, C.Ht., Psychotherapy/Clinical Hypnosis and noted speaker and author offers this: “Most of the other animals in the animal kingdom need no assistance in birth. It is an instinctive, natural act for the female to deliver offspring. Of course, a percentage dies in the process, but for the most part only humans have focused on this small percentage of loss, exaggerated it, and learned how to 'freak out' about this natural process.”
She continues, “The good news is that the fear of childbirth was learned. And whatever has been learned, can be unlearned. Hypnosis can restore a woman to her natural default setting . . . and focus on listening to her body cues to deliver safely and naturally, minimizing the pain, and [focusing] on the miracle of birth and the magic of a baby. There is nothing more powerful than human thought. Indeed, the ‘negative mass hypnosis’ of childbirth is exactly what causes the distress. In therapeutic hypnosis, we turn that around, using positive hypnosis to encourage the woman to embrace this process as a fascinating one, start to finish.”
After proper training in HypnoBirthing, you are able to reach complete relaxation. You are awake, alert and in full control. Pushing does not take place because it tenses the muscle; and by not pushing it allows for experiencing the birth in an atmosphere of calm relaxation. In this tranquil place, your body's endorphins, being a natural relaxant, override the stress hormones which tighten and cause pain. Instead, you focus on “breathing the baby down” by working with your body’s natural rhythms, much in the same way you breathe into your stretch when practicing yoga.
How Do Women Who Tried this Method Actually Feel?
“The biggest thing I took away from HypnoBirthing was the knowledge of what to look out for at the hospital. I learned about my rights as a patient and I learned how to stick up for myself. When the nurses insisted I push the baby, I actually used the HypnoBirthing method of ‘breathing the baby down,’ which worked and she [my daughter] was delivered that night at 10:56 PM. Best moment of my life!” claims Brina Bujkovsky.
Kellie Adkins had a positive experience as well. “I delivered my daughter using that [HypnoBirthing] technique. I loved the training and did feel the HypnoBirthing helped me have a more beautiful birth. I had a five-hour labor [and repeatedly visualized no pain which was taught during my HypnoBirthing course]. I did feel, however, that my yoga and meditation training helped me more than the HypnoBirthing did. However, the HypnoBirthing is a great 'baby step' for moms who DON'T have any experience with yoga/meditation.”
After trying the Bradley technique for her first birth, Isra Hashmi was ready to try Hypnobirthing the second and third time around. “My midwife at my third birth said I should be a spokesperson for HypnoBirthing; she said she's never seen anyone like me (in a good way!). I was smiling between contractions, talking and relaxed and limp even during my most powerful transition at the end of the birth.”
Alisha Worthington had used HypnoBirthing for four of her seven births and had this to share: “It made a tremendous difference in my ability to handle natural childbirth. I was able to relax and allow my body to work as it should which shortened my labor time and quickened my recovery. I also believed it made a difference in my pregnancy as well due to the number of times I ‘practiced' relaxing which improved my overall sense of well-being.”
And the Verdict?
My personal childbirth experiences happened in the typical hospital setting, suffering through the painful contractions and praying for the epidural. Though I was fully awake with my first child, I was so numb from the waist down. The only thing I actually experienced was the pain of the contractions and that magical moment of birth being lost. Fortunately, when my second daughter was born the epidural was nearly worn off and I got to truly experience her birth. Had I been wise to the HypnoBirthing experience would I have tried it? Back then I was young and naïve and made the best choice that I could at the time. My choice would have different had I known what I know now.
Through all the testimonials, there was not one woman who had a negative thing to say about this method. Even the women who had complications during childbirth, all felt that the HypnoBirthing training helped make their experiences more tolerable since they knew how to remain calm and relaxed.
So what do you think? Does natural childbirth become a possible choice for you?