What is HypnoBirthing?

(Please note that HypnoBirthing is one of a number of practices that fall within the field of ‘Hypnosis for Birth’).

Now in its eighteenth year, HypnoBirthing is a complete antenatal education, a different philosophy of pregnancy and birth. It was invented by an American mother, Marie (Mickey) Mongan who was certain that there must be another way to give birth, a way that didn’t leave women suffering, in agonising pain, at the hands of the medical establishment. After a distressing first birth experience Mickey researched long and hard and came up with the beginnings of today’s HypnoBirthing programme.

In the words of Marie Mongan herself: “My dream is that every woman, everywhere, will know the joy of a safe, satisfying birth for both her baby and herself – one she’ll not need to forget”.

This quote embodies the philosophy of HypnoBirthing, it is about giving the balance of power back to birthing women and helping them to learn to trust their bodies again. HypnoBirthing is intended to help you have the best and most natural childbirth possible. Classes teach specific breathing and self hypnosis techniques (to both the mother and a partner) to help you  to enter a totally relaxed state, similar to that you find yourself in when you daydream, and allows you to experience the true calm and comfortable nature of childbirth. Hypnobirthing’s philosophy believes that birth doesn’t have to hurt. Muscles doing their job properly do not hurt and the uterus is just one giant muscle.

How Can the Pain of Labour Be Psychological and why should I choose Hypnobirthing?

Fear stimulates the production of adrenaline, adrenaline causes the uterus to tense and blood to flow to the extremities leaving the uterus with insufficient oxygen, this in turn causes the pain commonly felt during a contraction. To remove fear is to remove pain. HypnoBirthing teaches you to experience a “surge” rather than a “contraction” (replacing negative wording and associations with positive ones), so that you will be working with nature, not against it, in a calm and fearless state of mind.

HypnoBirthing believes that knowledge is power and classes also cover the anatomy and physiology of pregnancy and birth, the myth of the due date and what to do if you are overdue, the benefits of and how to perform perineal massage, optimal foetal positioning, the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy, how to write a good birth plan, how to understand your options during labour and birth, how to understand the medical terminology and understand what is best for you and your baby, as well as ways to aid bonding with the baby (for both the mother and father) and much, much more. It also works well with other antenatal classes, such as NHS or NCT classes, or as a stand alone class.

Approximately 70% of HypnoBirthing mums give birth with no pain relief at all and a further 25% only use milder forms of pain relief such as Entonox (gas and air), the average Caesarian Section rate is staggeringly low at only 4%. One thing is for sure though, even if you do require some form of pharmaceutical pain relief, your birth will definitely be calmer and more positive! As HypnoBirthing will teach you how to remain in control of your birth experience at all times.

Can anybody do it? And will I still be in control?

Yes! With time, patience and practice HypnoBirthing will work for anyone. Some may find they are more susceptible and may find that the effects are much stronger for them, but HypnoBirthing can benefit anyone!  Lots of people worry that HypnoBirthing will be similar to stage hypnosis or that seen on TV where people are made to impersonate chickens and the like. The fact of the matter is, with HypnoBirthing you are in complete control, nobody can make you do anything you do not want to do and you will remain lucid throughout the whole of your birth experience, just very very calm.

How much does it cost and how can I find a training course?

You can expect to pay in the region of £200-£400 (depending on location) for 12.5hrs of tuition (usually split into five session), an official HypnoBirthing book, practice and music relaxation CDs and all course handouts. A properly trained and registered practitioner in your area can be found by contacting the UK’s HypnoBirthing organisation: www.hypnobirthing.co.uk

And the proof of the pudding?

I used HypnoBirthing techniques to give birth to my son, Rafferty Arthur, last year. In January of 2005 I delivered Rafferty, at home in a birthing pool, with no medical pain relief at all, no mean feat considering Rafferty weighed in at 11 pounds and 3 ounces! I am no hero, I have an embarrassingly low pain threshold usually, but I can honestly say I did not feel the need for any pain relief (having had an epidural in both of my previous labours). The experience was absolutely amazing, incredibly beautiful, spiritual and life changing. I can’t tell you how magical it was to give birth as nature originally intended, enveloped in water in the safety of my living room with my husband and two wonderful community midwives for support. Throughout the labour I remained calm and in control and Rafferty birthed himself quickly, safely and easily, just as birth should be.


by Sarah Ockwell-Smith
HypnoBirthing Links:

HypnoBirthing® UK – The official UK site for HypnoBirthing® – The Mongan Method. Packed with information about HypnoBirthing®, lots of birth stories, how to request details of your nearest classes, and discussion boards to chat to others mums and practitioners about HypnoBirthing®.

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