What Is Hypnobabies?

Natural birth has many benefits, yet some fear it because we are taught by society that birth is dangerous, painful, and scary. When I was considering having a baby, the thought of birth terrified me. Yet, the thought of having a medicalized birth in the hospital frightened me even more. All of that changed when I discovered Hypnobabies.

Hypnobabies is a program for pregnancy and childbirth education, which uses hypnosis to empower women to have natural births without fear or pain. (What is Hypnosis?)

This program is available as a self-study course, as well as an in-person, six-week class taught by certified Hypnobabies instructors around the country, such as myself. I teach Hypnobabies classes to the Temecula area of Southern California.

In this class, pregnant women and their partners learn self-hypnosis skills to use during birthing. They also learn about how to stay healthy during pregnancy, which supports the best possible outcomes for birth. And, they are taught about their power of choice, and the options that they have for their prenatal care and birth—including homebirth, using a birth center, using a midwife, or having a traditional hospital birth. Hypnobabies can be used in any of these scenarios, and in fact would be extremely valuable to mothers who plan to birth naturally in a hospital.

Hypnobabies works because of the power of hypnosis, which works because of the power of our minds. What we think and expect of birth is closely related to what we experience. Hypnobabies helps women to think about birth in a positive and empowering way. With the help of hypnosis, those thoughts turn into beliefs and expectations, which turn into reality. The result is that mothers who use hypnosis in childbirth are much more likely to experience easy, quick, and pain-free births.

 

Are you pregnant and looking for a Hypnobabies class in the Temecula area of Southern California? Check out my class info page here!

My Experiences with Hypnobabies

I have created a video talking about my experiences with Hypnobabies, which you can watch just below.

Or, if you’d rather read about it, continue reading here!

With my first baby, I used Hypnobabies. After overcoming my fear of childbirth by discovering the world of natural birth, home birth, and childbirth hypnosis, I decided to use Hypnobabies to prepare for my birthing. I planned a home birth, and successfully dilated to 9 cm at home, but was unable to progress past that and then began regressing back down several centimeters. During that whole time, I remained very comfortable and calm. There were times close to full dilation when my birthing was very intense, and I had some discomfort, but overall I would say my birthing was very manageable. When my dilation started reversing, I was experiencing what is called labor regression, and it isn’t very common. It’s not dangerous, but can be exhausting for the birthing mother. My midwife was not familiar with labor regression, and she suggested that we transfer to the hospital at that point. We had a non-emergency transfer to the hospital, meaning we just drove there and checked in with no fanfare.

At the hospital, now after 24 hours of being in my active birthing time, I was exhausted and decided to accept pitocin and an epidural. Since these were my biggest fears I wanted to avoid initially, having my Hypnobabies tools to help me through this was huge. Despite my severe needle phobia, I felt absolutely nothing during all of the blood draws, IV placement, and epidural placement. Everything went so smoothly and I used hypnosis for all of the procedures. After my epidural, I no longer needed to use my hypnosis tools, and I was fortunate to have a very positive hospital experience.

After giving birth the first time, I was encouraged by my family to become an instructor because it clearly worked so well for me and I was passionate about helping others to do the same. I became certified when I was pregnant with my second baby.

With my second baby, I of course used Hypnobabies once again. I planned a home birth and successfully achieved that the second time around. My second birthing was not as comfortable as my first, because my belly was overextended, causing poor alignment for my baby and difficulty engaging. This led to two issues, which were back discomfort and a lack of pushing sensation. I was completely dilated after only about six hours, and during that time I did very well and had a very comfortable and easy birthing time. After that point, though, I began to experience a great deal of discomfort in my back and then exhaustion, as my baby did not engage and begin to trigger pushing pressure waves. I stayed fully dilated for about five hours before finally deciding to just push my baby out. Because my baby was not lined up optimally, she had a harder time coming out than we all would have preferred, but using my hypnosis I did not experience any discomfort during that process. Ultimately, she was born at home with no medications, and I learned a lot of helpful information for my next pregnancy.

Hypnobabies has worked very well for me during both my hospital birth and home birth experiences. I have a realistic view of Hypnobabies because I did not experience painless births, but I did have a much easier and more comfortable time than I believed I would have otherwise, and I found childbirth to be manageable and something that I am not afraid to do again. Some moms will experience pain-free births with Hypnobabies, and that’s awesome! But for others, even though there may be some intensity and challenges and discomfort, birth is still something that we can do, and Hypnobabies helped me so much with that.

Benefits of Natural Birth

Natural birth means different things in different contexts. Sometimes, natural birth refers to vaginal birth, as opposed to surgical birth via cesarean section. Other times, it refers to a vaginal birth without the use of medications for augmentation or anesthetic purposes (for speeding up the birth process or numbing pain). And of course, when some people hear the words “natural birth,” they picture a woman squatting in a field to give birth.

In the context of this post, natural birth means vaginal birth without the use of medications, regardless of the other details; a natural birth can happen at home, in a hospital, in a birthing center, and with the assistance of a doctor or midwife, or even unassisted (which is never recommended as a plan, but it can happen sometimes). Natural birthing can also happen in many positions; squatting is common, since it’s usually an anatomically optimal position, but other options are the well-known lying back position, kneeling, on hands and knees, side-lying, and so on. Some natural births take place in a tub of water, which can have added benefits.

So why would a woman choose a natural birth?

In our society, natural birth has become uncommon, although it is beginning to make a comeback. Yet still, many women who choose natural birth are labeled as martyrs, crazy, brave, odd, foolish, or many other words both positive and negative—but honestly, mostly negative. Some people may not understand why a woman would choose a birth involving pain when there are modern options that make birth much “easier” for the mother.

There are a number of reasons to choose a natural birth.

  1. A medical birth often involves unnecessary interventions that aren’t best for the mother or baby. One common example is birth that has “failed to progress,” and is pushed along using a medicine known as Pitocin. The reality is that birthing can take quite a bit of time, and most women’s bodies are capable of birthing at the right pace for themselves. Unless the baby is truly in distress, or the mother becomes too exhausted to continue, it is usually best to allow birthing to progress on its own. Another example is episiotomy, the cutting of perineal tissue instead of allowing it to stretch or tear naturally. While episiotomies may speed birth along, the tissue will actually heal better if allowed to tear; more importantly, allowing the perineum to stretch gradually may prevent tearing altogether, even though it takes longer than cutting. These are just two examples of how medical intervention during birth is often unnecessary and harmful.
  2. There are risks to the medications used in birthing. Using Pitocin to speed up the birthing process can cause more intense contractions, which are more difficult and exhausting for the mother, as well as more stressful for the baby. This can often lead to the use of pain medication in a birth that would have otherwise proceeded naturally. Pain medications such as epidurals can then cause birth to slow down again or stall. Often, the result is an emergency c-section for a woman and baby who should not have needed it. These medications have other risks and harmful side effects as well.
  3. Vaginal births are almost always safer than elective cesarean sections—even vaginal births after a previous c-section. One common thing to hear in the birth world is that women who have had a cesarean section must always have them for births afterwards. While there are cases in which that is true, in the vast majority of women, there is no need to automatically plan a c-section because vaginal birth still has fewer risks. Another common example of unnecessary c-sections are in the cases involving nuchal cords, or an umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck. This is a relatively common occurrence, and does not constitute an emergency in most cases; babies in the womb breath through their umbilical cords, not their throats, and oxygen continues to flow through the cord even when it is wrapped around the neck or tied in a knot. C-sections are frequently done unnecessarily using the excuse of a cord wrapped around the neck. Surgical birth is very safe nowadays, and invaluable in situations where it is truly necessary—but for women who are able to safely give birth vaginally, c-sections are simply not the safest choice for the mother or baby. There are risks to any surgery, and this is a major surgery. It also involves a more difficult and longer recovery than a vaginal birth.
  4. Natural birth is the only option for birthing outside of the hospital. For some women, the scariest part of childbirth is the idea of going to the hospital to give birth and feeling vulnerable or out of control because of the hospital environment. Hospitals can make people feel like they are not in charge of their own bodies, or their own medical decisions. They can feel pressured to follow a doctor’s orders or a hospital’s policies, even when they aren’t comfortable with those choices. On the contrast, a birth in the comfort of one’s own home or in the home-like atmosphere of a birthing center can be a much more comfortable and positive experience. These environments are a great place for women to give birth with the assistance of a midwife or even in some cases a doctor, as long as they do not want or need special equipment or medications for their births. And of course, in the event of a change of plans or even an emergency, the hospital is always there.
  5. Natural birth allows the mother to be fully present and experience the birth process. Medications may cause mental fogginess, but a natural birth allows a woman to feel in charge of the process. Birthing naturally also brings a great sense of empowerment, and can boost the strength of the mother-infant bond from the start because it encourages skin-to-skin contact immediately following birth, and supports a strong start to breastfeeding for those who so choose.
  6. Natural birth does not have to involve pain. While many natural births do involve pain, there is another option. Hypnosis for childbirth is a powerful tool that works, allowing women to experience the intense sensations of birth as pressure or discomfort, without being overwhelmed by pain. Using hypnosis to prepare for a natural birth can also help the body to experience an easier, safer, and more peaceful birth process.

For me, the realization that I could have a natural birth at home was the reason I first was able to shed my fear and begin to feel confident about the birth process. When I discovered Hypnobabies, I became even more confident and excited. I used it, and it worked, and I can’t wait to do it again with my next baby. Childbirth can be a beautiful and positive experience—and that’s why I believe in natural birth, and especially in Hypnobabies.

What is Hypnosis?

For many people, when they hear the word “hypnosis,” they might imagine someone similar to a magician inducing a strange and mysterious trance on a subject, who they can then make perform embarrassing and comical behaviors. In reality, that image is an exaggerated description of stage hypnosis—which is an entirely different subject, really, than therapeutic hypnosis. Although stage hypnosis is based in the same concepts as hypnotherapy, it is used differently and for different purposes. Hypnosis used for therapeutic reasons doesn’t look or feel like a mystical phenomenon for most people—and that’s because hypnosis is really just a deep level of relaxation which allows for access to the subconscious mind. It’s actually measurable by changes in brain activity; in other words, it’s a real mental and physiological state, rather than an unexplained or strange phenomenon.

Another interesting thing about hypnosis is that it’s a state of consciousness that we experience many times a day, without even knowing it. When we watch TV, read, daydream, or start to fall asleep at night, those are all examples of times when we are in a state of hypnosis. So there’s really nothing weird or scary about it—it’s a natural state to be in. Another myth about hypnosis is that the client is under the control or power of the hypnotist. In truth, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis because the client always has the choice to ignore what the hypnotist says. The hypnotist is a guide who can say the right words, but it is up to the client to choose to accept them and follow the instructions.

In hypnotherapy, a practitioner will guide a client into a state of hypnosis and then make suggestions to the subconscious mind. Upon returning to a fully awakened state, the client’s conscious mind will begin to accept the suggestions as true, and those suggestions become beliefs which can profoundly shape that person’s experiences. The reason for this can be demonstrated through the placebo effect. The placebo effect is a proven phenomenon in which a person is given a medicine and told that it will cause a certain effect. That person then experiences that effect, based on what they were told the medicine was supposed to do. In reality, the medicine is just a “sugar pill” or a placebo, meaning it’s not a real medicine; but the effects that the person experienced were real, and they happened solely due to the belief that they should happen. This effect is an example of the power of imagination and belief.

Another example is when you are told that something is going to hurt, and it does—yet when the same action is done to you without that negative warning, or with an affirmation that it won’t hurt, it often doesn’t. When we expect pain, we often experience it. That’s not to say that pain is all in the mind, of course—yet, through hypnosis, it has been demonstrated that pain can be eliminated by the power of the mind. Hypnosis has even been used to successfully produce anesthesia in surgery, without the use of drugs.

Hypnosis for childbirth uses this same principle. We train our minds to believe in our ability to birth naturally, easily, safely, and without pain; and we do just that. It really works, and it’s not magic. It’s the power of our minds.