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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hypnobirthing-my thoughts and observations

There was an article on hypnobirthing in my newspaper this morning and I thought I'd post thoughts about that technique here.

I have never used hypnobirthing myself...I think I found my own way into a form of it just because I learned through practice.  Having done five kids naturally, you kind of get a lot of practice.  Many women find themselves it what I've heard called labor zone.  This is a very relaxed place.  Many times they appear to be sleeping while they are working through contractions.  This has all been done without the formal hypnobirthing training, but I do believe it involves some of the same techniques.  These techniques involve learning breathing and relaxation ideas to help rid yourself of stress and fear and allow your body to work the way it's supposed to.  This techniques work very well to help ease labor pain.  I have also seen many women do very well with hypnobirthing and I feel like it has helped many women work with their labor in a way that decreases the pain.

There is just two issues I have with it.  First off, it makes the claim that if you use this method, your birth will be painless.  I have heard many people say how much this is true.  I have also seen women appear to be in no pain as they work through their contractions(or pressure waves, as they are called in hypnobirthing).  The problems I have seen with this are with women who are doing very well working through their contractions, but are still feeling pain.  I have seen a look of hopelessness as they have turned to me and said "this isn't supposed to hurt.  What am I doing wrong?".  Many times, they have given up because they came into this labor with the expectation that they would feel no pain, and yet they do.  They were not prepared for that possibility, and were not prepared to deal with that mentally.  Also, it doesn't leave room for women to incorporate their own ways of dealing with birth.  Such as their own rituals or visualizations that may spontaneously occur that help them cope.  From what I've seen, hypnobirthing has a set scripts and visualizations.  It doesn't seem to allow room for women who need to be vocal and move and make a ruckus during labor.  There are many women that are more external focused and trying to do so much inward work is difficult.  Whereas, letting out a good roar helps them cope more.

Bottom line, I think hypnobirthing is a wonderful way of working through labor.  It has many benefits and I really think anyone could use these techniques to help them.  But, I don't think it will makes everyone's birth painless or easy.  I see it as another tool to tuck in your belt to use, but should by no means be the only tool.  For those who are interested in more info, here's a few websites I've found helpful: hypnobabies doula(technique is similar to hypnobirthing) talks about her experiences and use of hypnobirthing for the original hypnobirthing tehcnique-the Mongan method on hypnobirthing website on hypnobabies-talks about some of the differences between hypnobirthing and hypnobabies good overall view of hypnosis during childbirth


Pam said...

I have done 6 natural deliveries using the hypnobirthing method. I have read and re-read the book several times and I have never seen it say that they claim that if you use their method then you will have a pain free labor. It suggests that some women have reported having pain free labors. Out of the 6 children I have had I would say my first, second and third deliveries would be deemed pain free. My last three had waves of pain and it was much different than the first three. I just figured it had to do with how much more I had on my plate at the time, the environment I was in and truly not being as relaxed as I was with the first 3. I was very fortunate enough to have a mother who spoke very fondly of labor. How wonderful it is and I truly feel that that played a significant role in how I perceived what it was suppose to be like. Most of us have some sort of fears about the whole labor and delivery and if not addressed, I believe affects how our deliveries go. Even if you opt for an epidural or need a cesarean, the way we perceive and receive our current circumstances can either help us or not.

Rachel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachel said...

Pam-I haven't read the book for a few months, but it was my impression when I read it that they were suggesting that labor should be pain free and I have seen other women who come in expecting that and being very disappointed. Maybe it just depends on how you read it. I'll pick it up again sometime and check. I'd be curious to see how other women have read it.

I absolutely agree with the idea of how we perceive our environment or even labor and birth effects the amount of pain we feel. I have seen that time and time again.

Thanks, for your comments and if anyone else would like to chip in, I'd be curious to see what they felt hypnobirthing taught about pain and birth.

Jamie said...

I used Hypnobabies for my son's birth, and found it to really help me to focus and do whatever my body dictated because I knew what was happening and could relax when needed (the excellent help of my husband was KEY). It wasn't painless, but the pain was about as bad as menstrual cramps---not immobilizing, but definitely needing attention in that moment. We did all the practices, which helped a ton---if nothing else, to unify my husband and me so that when our son was born, we were one.
Some women say you can have a painless labor. Mine wasn't painless, but I could tell the pain was more controlled because I knew when and how to relax during pressure waves instead of letting them control me.

Peaceful Baby said...

I'vw been HypnoBirthing instructor for 10 years and am also on the faculty training new instructors. There is nothing in the book or course syllabus that promises pain-free labor. In fact, we make a point of teaching all of our instructors NOT to say that. Many women, using Hypnobirthing or not, say they had nothing they would consider pain during labor. Others say that they had pain, but it was manageable, came when they lost focus or became frightened, or had special circumstances. We teach the labor can be easier, safer and more comfortable with Hypnobirthing.

Rachel said...

I think my assumptions that it taught that childbirth should be painless comes from the stories in the book about the authors own births and the story of Grantly-Dick Read. After reading those, I guess I just assumed that the whole point of hypnobirthing was to have a pain free labor.

And then like I said before, I would have moms come in and struggle because they were expecting it to be pain free and weren't prepared for when they felt pain.

Maybe I should go to a class or something:)

Love your guys' view points.

michelle said...

First, HypnoBirthing the Mongan Method and hypnobabies are two totally different programs and should not be confused as one. I did HypnoBirthing which put countless tools under my belt and had a comfortable pain-free delivery. Although on page 22 in the book it says "we don't promise births that are totally free of discomfort, but we firmly believe that comfortable birthing is a possibility for a large percent of birthing mothers through this philosophy and program." What is discomfort to you? My birth was comfortable!
None of the videos you listed are approved HypnoBirthing videos here is the link:
check out
and remember hypnobabies and HypnoBirthing are not the same:)

Rachel said...

I really appreciate the thoughts here. I have heard and seen wonderful hypnobirthing births. It is actually something that I recommend to my clients or friends if they ask. I still stand by my comments, though. I have other experiences that have shown me that hypnobirthing is not for everyone and that is has made it more difficult for them to cope. I'll share some of these experiences in a follow up post, I think, since it may be a lot longer than this.

I do this not to discredit or downplay anyone's wonderful experiences with this method. Like I said, I would encourage anyone to look into it. But I do this because, for some people, it is not helpful, and that has made it harder for them to cope or has made them feel like they are not capable of doing birth the right way. So, I'll type up another post later.

Please feel free to continue sharing your good experiences(or disappointing ones). As I think any positive view of birth is welcome and needed.

Hypnoali said...

It sounds to me like there are some people who have just read the HypnoBirthing book and interpreted it as suggesting that birth can and should be pain free versus those that have taken or taught the actual course. As a HypnoBirthing instructor I know that we never suggest that birth is necessarily pain-free. However we have no control over how people interpret the book if they have not taken the actual HypnoBirthing course and therein perhaps lies a crucial difference that we can hopefully clear up here and now. The HypnoBirthing book is subject to individual interpretation whereas when one reads the book and takes the course with a certified instructor there is greater understanding of the intention of HypnoBirthing and less room for subjective interpretation.

Rachel said...

Hypnoali-I think you may be right because when I read the book, I came away with it with the understanding that it was teaching that birth should be pain-less. Not that it is, but that it should be.

It really makes me want to take a course, just so I can see what they teach and the differences.

Hypnoali said...

Hi Rachel,
I also believe there are different hypnobirthing methods out there. I just read that the LeClair method of hypnobirthing does indeed suggest a pain free labor, while we who teach HypnoBirthing-The Mongan Method do not suggest that pain free is possible for everyone and both methods have books called Hypnobirthing. Unfortunately this leads to a great deal of confusion and debate. It would have been much easier had the originators of both these methods just stuck with their last names instead of trying to get exclusive rights on a catchy phrase. There is no confusion with Lamaze, or Bradley! Just my two cents!

Rachel said...

"HypnoBirthing® teaches that there is nothing inherently painful about birthing. Birthing muscles are like every other muscle in the body, and when they are functioning properly, they don't hurt. It is actually fear and tension that lead to pain."

So this is what I read on a web site here:

This sounds like it's saying that birth should not be this not what is taught? Maybe you ladies here can enlighten me what comments like this mean. Because this is what I hear a lot.

I promise I'm not trying to be antagonistic...I really am just trying to understand. In my experience, women are all different and experience varying amounts of pain, whether or not they are relaxed. I guess I'm trying to nail down what exactly is being taught:)

And if I'm confused, there's got to be other women out there who are also:) Or not..maybe it's just me:)

Brittany said...

I commented on this on facebook, not realizing that this is where the discussion was at :). I wasn't following your blog before, but now I am. I am getting certified to teach Hypnobabies classes. I used the Hypnobabies homestudy course for my second birth and really liked it because it provides a similar level of instruction as a course with an instructor for those who don't have a live hypnosis for childbirth class in their area (which I didn't). While I believe Hypnobabies offers unique benefits, and believe very strongly that it is the best program for me both to use and to teach, I am not looking to debate about differences between programs or to "bash" other programs. I recommend that everyone explore all of their options.

I understand why you are confused, Rachel. I used to be confused about the same thing. I think "painless childbirth" is a very confusing thing. In my understanding and experience, a "painless birth" means still feeling your uterus working the same way everyone else does, but not interpreting that stimulus as "pain."

There are statistics on the Hypnobabies website for women taking the course with an instructor (does not include homestudy) 70-75% described their birth as "completely comfortable" (felt only pressure, tightening, or mild cramping), 15% described it as "comfortable until transition" (I would consider this my experience), and 10% "comfortable until active labor," many of whom had unusual labors. Having these statistics published on their website is definitely not promising painless birth for everyone who uses it, but the benefits are pretty clear.

Rachel said...

Brittney-thanks for your comments. I think what happened for me is that I didn't change the words for I still think of the sensations of my uterus contracting as painful. What I did was change what the meaning of pain meant...does that make sense:)

So I would call my contractions painful, but my definition of pain is different than what it used to be. I embrace the pain of labor, and I'm ok with it. In fact part of me looked forward to working with it:) I guess it's all about semantics and that's very subjective:)

So what we need to ask when we talking to women is...what does pain mean to you...what does being comfortable even mean to you...does being comfortable mean you don't feel anything? Or does it mean you are feeling sensations, but you accept them as ok. I think that's where women get mixed messages about lots of different birthing words(not just hypnobirthing).

Semantics, though, could be a whole other post:)

labortrials said...

Indeed semantics could be another post! I know that how we talk to and about our bodies makes a difference. That's one of my weaknesses (probably because my body has 'failed' me so many times over the past 6 years).

However, I have a hard time buying into the hypnosis vernacular. We'll see how I do in about 6-8 weeks or so! ;)

Rachel said...

Good luck labortrials:) I'd be curious to see how you did.

Birth is a Journey: Does it have to be life changing?

  • One woman might have to climb on an overfilled boat, risking her life and nearly dying as she escapes over the ocean to come to this land. This experience could certainly be life altering. It may very well color the rest of her life, positively or negatively. (I overcame this amazing struggle and here I am triumphant! OR Holy crap, that was SO hard I don’t know if I can go on! By the way, neither response is “right”. No one would judge the woman with the 2nd response.)
  • One woman may buy an airplane ticket, sit on a comfortable 747 and fly to America with a nice smooth flight and landing. She is happy to be in America. Those welcoming her are glad she is here safe and sound. She may only travel by plane 2-4 times in her life, so it is pretty memorable. But the journey itself probably wouldn’t be life changing; it would simply be a journey.
  • One woman may learn to fly an ultra-light plane to lead a flock of geese into America teaching them to migrate. This experience could certainly be empowering and life altering.