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.

Speaking from experience, I can attest that Hypnobabies worked extremely well for me, during both of my babies’ births. During my first birthing, I learned that not every birth goes exactly as planned. Even using my hypnosis skills, I had a long, slow, and intense birthing time. Yet throughout that time, I was able to experience the sensations without feeling pain. I dilated to 9 cm without any medical assistance, and without any fear that I wouldn’t be able to birth my child.

At the peak of my birthing time, just before I would have begun to push, my progress suddenly stalled and then began to reverse. After many hours of waiting and trying different things to pick it up again with no success, my midwife made the professional call to move to the hospital. Yet because of Hypnobabies, I was able to face my even bigger fear of a hospital birth with total peace. Using self-hypnosis, I completely overcame my phobia of needles and felt absolutely nothing during blood draws, the IV placement, and the epidural placement. All of those procedures were things we never planned on, yet decided to do at that point in our birthing, given the circumstances. I was able to have a wonderful birth experience in the hospital, in large part because of Hypnobabies.

For my second birthing, I was able to have the home birth I’d always wanted. Once again, I used Hypnobabies Childbirth Hypnosis which allowed me to experience the intense natural sensations of birth without feeling pain, 90% of the time. I succeeded in my dream of having a completely natural and unmedicated birth in the comfort of my own home, without the “agony” that natural birthing mothers are often told they will experience.

For me, experiencing the power of my Hypnobabies tools in natural birthing as well as in medicated birthing scenarios gave me a unique perspective and convinced me beyond any doubt that Hypnobabies works. It is now one of my passions to share it with others!

 

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

Can Birth Really Be Easy?

Ever since my first pregnancy, I’ve been passionate about natural childbirth. But before my childbearing years began, I was afraid of birth. Discovering natural birth, homebirth, and midwifery was the turning point for me, where I found that birth was something I could see myself doing without fear. Then, I discovered Hypnobabies, and birth became something I was actually excited about.

Hypnobabies is a pregnancy and childbirth education program which teaches medical-grade hypnosis techniques which allow moms to experience easier and more comfortable births. Sidenote: Hypnosis, I’ve discovered, can be a “red flag” word for a lot of people; some might think it’s weird, or a hoax, or against their spiritual beliefs. I want to say, for the record, that childbirth hypnosis doesn’t involve any strange behaviors. It’s a state of consciousness that is measurable in terms of brain activity. And, it doesn’t conflict with religious or spiritual beliefs in any way–there’s no “past-life regression” or things like that involved. In fact, as a Christian I find that childbirth hypnosis and my faith in Jesus are strongly connected, and I incorporate my faith deeply into my hypnosis techniques.

The reason I am passionate about childbirth hypnosis is that it is a completely natural tool which allows women to birth in comfort. A simple way to avoid pain during birth, without the use of any drugs or interventions? Yes, please! (I have to be clear here, that not all moms using Hypnobabies will experience a completely pain-free birth. But, with proper practice and use of Hypnobabies tools, Hypno-moms are able to have much more comfortable and easier births.)

Because of what I’ve learned, I believe that birth is a beautiful and sacred part of life, something to be excited about rather than be feared or avoided. I know from my own experience that birth can be much more comfortable than what we typically see on TV and hear from our friends and family. But I’ve still struggled with using the word “easy” in relation to pregnancy and birth. The reality for me is that pregnancy has not been easy or very comfortable, and birth, while not painful, is still not easy. In my journey to becoming a Hypnobabies Instructor, and my journey preparing for my own baby’s birth again, I’ve had to grapple with the word “easy.” The concept of an easier and more comfortable birth is very important in Hypnobabies!

What I’ve learned is that while births using Hypnobabies can and should be easy and comfortable, not all of them are. This can happen for a few different reasons. The good news is that they’re all preventable!

My first birth was challenging, in that it was long, there was a lot of progression and regression, and there were points at which I would truthfully have to admit I had some pain. (I describe my first birthing as 90% pain-free). Ultimately, my planned homebirth turned into a hospital birth, which to me signifies that it was definitely not the “easy” birth I had in mind. But in learning even more about childbirth and hypnosis since then, I’ve discovered several key reasons why this was my experience, and how I can change that for my upcoming birth.

#1. For most women, Hypnobabies will be effective only if they practice and use their hypnosis techniques properly. While I practiced diligently during my pregnancy, I didn’t apply my techniques as well as I could have. In a way, I was overly confident about how easy and comfortable birth would be, to the point that I didn’t use my hypnosis techniques enough! I’ve since learned that when birthing begins, even if it turns out to be “practice” and not true birthing time, Hypno-moms should begin using their techniques right away, and use them continuously. It’s important to really get in the zone for birth, especially when using hypnosis. Waiting until things get more intense is not advised; at that point, some women might struggle to get deeply enough into hypnosis for it to be as effective. Starting early allows Hypno-moms to flow deeper and deeper as birthing progresses.

#2. It is also important to understand choices in pregnancy and birth, and to make informed choices rather than allowing medical care providers to make those choices for you. In my case, I did my research and made my plans for all things birth-related, and yet when it came time for putting them into action, I allowed many interventions that I didn’t really want. As a prime example, I had numerous cervical checks, which I had originally planned on limiting to only one or two. These checks placed the focus on a number, which doesn’t actually determine when a woman will give birth. Ultimately, this number was the reason my midwife advised me to go to the hospital, a decision I now believe was unnecessary.

#3. Lastly, it is vital to pay attention to mom’s emotional state during birthing; she needs to feel safe, supported, and calm for birth to progress as smoothly as possible. My emotional state was very excited during my first birthing. I was so confident about how easy and comfortable I would be that I turned it into almost a party. I invited way too many people to attend my birth, and overlooked the importance of getting in the zone, mentally. I didn’t think enough about what I needed. I allowed people to participate in my birth who did not fully understand or support my use of hypnosis. Looking back, I can see that my birth progressed powerfully when I was alone with my husband at night with everything calm, and then regressed dramatically when people arrived and I stopped focusing on using my hypnosis.

I have learned a lot from my experiences and my training as a birth educator since then, and I hope that my readers can too! As I approach my birthing time in the next several weeks or so, I do so with the mindset that my birthing will be easy and comfortable this time around. I know now that these factors are so important, and I’m getting extra support for myself this time by working with a birth doula. Even though I have an amazing husband as my birth partner, I now understand the tremendous benefit of also having the dedicated, experienced, and focused support of a doula. I think it will make a big difference for me!

But the most important thing I’ve learned is this: “easy” doesn’t mean that birth should be approached casually, or that it will always go exactly as planned without any effort on the part of the birthing mom and her team. “Easy” means that with the right approach, with focus and hypnosis and faith and wisdom, birth can be a simpler and smoother process. “Easy” means that birth can happen naturally, at home or in the hospital, without pain, complications, interventions, or drama. Birth can be something enjoyable, special, and empowering. That’s what “easy” means to me now. And I personally can’t wait for my easy, comfortable birthing of my precious baby girl!

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.