Friday, June 12, 2009

Hypnosis for childbirth

In lieu of a natural childbirth story, today I want to share my personal experience using Hypnobabies, a program that uses hypnosis to ease, and in some cases eliminate, the pain of labor.

When I first heard of using hypnosis for childbirth, I thought it sounded more than a little strange and a kind of creepy. The more I read, however, the more I was persuaded that this could truly transform my labor and delivery experience. Because there were no classes in my area, I bought the home study program and got started. The program consists of a workbook that is full of all kinds of great information on healthy pregnancy and safe delivery and also includes several CDs with hypnosis tracks that are used throughout the course of pregnancy and labor.

For me, the most important and crucial part of the Hypnobabies program was the teaching that birth is natural, healthy and safe for both mother and baby. Every part of their program reinforces this fact. They encourage the use of positive words, substituting "birthing time" for labor and "waves" or "rushes" for contractions. They encourage you to unlearn everything you've been told about birth. Each one of us, whether consciously or unconsciously, carries a certain amount of baggage and pre-conceived notions into our labor based on our prior experiences and what others have told us to expect. A big part of "unlearning" these negative thoughts this is the "Affirmations" track, which is part of the CD package. You are encouraged to listen to this track at least once a day.

The first time I listened to the affirmations track, I couldn't stop giggling. The woman's sing-songy voice and the corny statements seemed all a little much. But I'd already bought the program, so I decided I'd at least give it my best shot. After about a week, I started to really enjoy listening to the affirmations. "Your body was made to have babies", "My baby is healthy inside me now", "My body knows just what to do to give birth to my baby". My favorite affirmation, and one that was especially relevant to me later in my pregnancy was "Babies are born on their birthdays and not when doctors decide".

The hypnosis tracks were equally corny at first, but quickly became a time that I looked forward to each day. They were also a big part of the great sleep I got throughout my pregnancy. Each track reinforced proper breathing and deep relaxation. Another major concept in the hypnobabies program is to let your body take over and do it's work. Many times when we tense up to fight the contractions, we are preventing them from being effective, which can ultimately stall labor progress.

As part of the Hypnobabies program, I surrounded myself with only positive birth stories. I discovered this great website and spent time each week reading these awesome stories. I couldn't believe all the pain-free birth stories that were out there!

Now, if you've read Peanut's birth story, you already know that my labor was not pain-free by any stretch of the imagination. In hindsight, I think that if I had involved Justin in the program through my pregnancy, he could have helped me stay focused through my labor. With that being said, I think the program was a valuable part of what allowed me to have the medication free birth that I wanted to have. The hypnosis tracks were especially useful to me during the time that I labored at home before going to the hospital. I spent hours on my birth ball listening to the soothing words and focusing on positive thoughts and relaxation.

Even without the benefits during labor, the things I learned through the program were invaluable during my pregnancy. It's all about trusting that your body can do what it was created to do. Not just hoping, but truly believing and trusting.

This idea totally transformed my way of thinking. I went from "I'd really like to have a natural birth if I can..." to "Of course I'll have a natural birth! Why wouldn't I?". Our bodies truly are fearfully and wonderfully made - they were created perfectly to grow and nurture new life and to bring it safely into the world.

I'd love to hear what kinds of programs you used to help you achieve a natural childbirth! Please share!


  1. I have a personal belief against hypnosis, but I agree that knowing you CAN have a natural labor is the key. If you think, "I'll try," you leave things open. My favorite resourse during pregnancy is natural childbirth books with birth stories. I choose carefully. I really, really like The Birth Book by William and Martha Sears. Another good one is A Midwife's Story...also Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent.

  2. As a christian, I had some questions about hypnosis too. From a bibical standpoint, the biggest problem I had with the program was statements like "I have everything I need inside of me to birth this baby". I always substituted "The Lord will help me birth this baby" or something like that. As far as the whole "hypnosis" thing, I don't know that I was ever really hypnotized, it was more of a way to achieve total relaxation...not at all like the hypnosis you see at fairs where the participants are not in control of their actions.

    I haven't read any of those books! I'll put them on my list.

  3. loved your story! I miss's been three years for me...I used hypnobirthing for baby #2 and it worked! that is until they turned off the music that I had 'trained' my mind to go off on it's own and not dwell on the pain...I almost lost control at that point...I think I would have 'stayed away' in my own little la la land and not really felt the pain if the music had been left on...

    I would have rather done hypnobabies like you did. I hear it's a better meshing of hypnosis and learning all there is to know about childbirth, the process, hypnobirthing all we learned about was hypnosis... I'm glad that I had already done Bradley childbirth classes with baby #1, otherwise I would have had NO clue what was going on with my body, my baby, or what everyone else in the room was doing...

    Lia Mack

  4. I love the Peggy Vincent book too! One of my absolute favorites.

    My husband and I took classes in the Bradley Method for Natural Childbirth, and they were a great foundation.

    During my last pregnancy, I discovered Ina May Gaskin's books. Although some of the 1970s stuff struck me as potentially a little "New Agey," I think that there were so many gems of information in there. She's an incredibly experienced midwife, and has a wealth of knowledge and birth wisdom!

  5. Thanks for your words of wisdom on my blog xx
    Irish Mammy

  6. I didn't really use a program but here is what helped me: Being educated! Learning about what my body was doing and how. I took a class from a childbirth instructor/doula that I think was very much like The Bradley Method shortly before giving birth to my first baby. I reviewed that with subsequent babies but also found it very helpful to read birth stories. Especially those in Ina May's book. Other helpful books are A Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth and oh shoot, I can't remember the other one I really liked. Also, when I did the class it was just our teacher, my husband, and myself. It was essential to have him involved like that. One final thing that helped me was being *terrified* of needles. Seriously, the thought of getting one stuck in my back is terrifying,

  7. My friend loaned me her CDs and DVD, but I have listened to them yet... but I should... 8 wks to go!