Hypnobirthing 101: the hypnobirthing basics for a positive birth experience

Hypnobirthing 101: the hypnobirthing basics for a positive birth experience

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Welcome to the world of Hypnobirthing! If you landed on this page it probably means you have heard of this word but you are not quite sure what it means yet. I am guessing you are feeling a bit skeptical about it. At least that’s how I felt about it at the beginning. And you are possibly feeling a bit scared or overwhelmed at the thought of giving birth, and you are hoping hypnobirthing has got some answer for you. Then let me take you through some hypnobirthing basics, so that you can find out all you need to know to get started!

First of all, if you are reading here, let me tell you already, you are definitely on the right track to have the most amazing birth experience. Hypnobirthing gave me the most beautiful, calm, pain free and empowering birth when my second baby was born and inspired me to start this blog. I wish every mom in the world knew about it and believed in its power.

For some inspiration, you can read my birth story here: How I had a natural and pain free birth thanks to Hypnobirthing.

What is Hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing is a tried and proven method that uses deep relaxation, visualization, affirmations and special breathing techniques to achieve a confident, calm and peaceful childbirth. While it strongly supports having a natural/vaginal birth, the aim of hypnobirthing is for the mom and the baby to have a positive birthing experience, no matter the circumstances (vaginal birth, c-section, induction, etc.).

It considers the psychological, as well as the physical, well-being of the mother, her birth partner, and the newborn, independent of context. No matter whether birth happens at home, in hospital or in a birthing center.

The different methods

HypnoBirthing emblem
The HypnoBirthing emblem.

The “original” hypnobirthing method is called HypnoBirthing – The Mongan Method. It was founded by Maria Mongan, an award winning hypnotherapist, who wrote her first book back in 1989. She gave birth to two of her children without anesthesia, at a time when it was unheard of. She always believed that birthing should be simple, instinctive, and even joyful for the mothers. babies and birth partners.

I personally read her book and enrolled in a class from a certified practitioner from The Mongan Method. And absolutely loved it.

Since then, several other hypnobirthing methods have come to life. Each one of them claims to be a bit different. However, they all follow the same principles. Some of the most popular ones are:

It is important to note that there are also many cheap imitations out there created by people that do not have the necessary qualification or experience to teach a hypnobirthing course. As a minimum, make sure that the founder of the program is a certified hypnotherapist! It is not worth compromising on your childbirth. So please do your research before choosing the right program for yourself and your baby.

Why Hypnobirthing?

When women are about to approach what should be one the most exciting moments of their life they usually feel scared and terrified. That could be for the pain or the fear that something could go wrong, resulting in invasive medical interventions. How many times have you heard birth stories from your relatives, your mom included, or your friends, where what’s emphasized is the pain of giving birth or whatever went wrong.

For some reason, telling a dramatic birth story where the mother had to endure terrible pain or stress, seems to be a favorite. Whether that’s because the mom ends up looking more like a “hero”, or because whoever is listening ends up being more engaged in the story, who knows. But what is the result? More and more fear building up in the mom-to-be.

The belief in pain surrounding childbirth is actually so strong and rooted in our society that no one really questions it.

water birth hypnobirthing

Hypnobirthing basics and the fear of giving birth

Hypnobirthing will teach you where all this fear comes from and how unfounded it is. I am not going to go into too much detail here, but know that, through history, the process of birth has been incredibly distorted. Women have been “taught” to give birth in a way that goes against the natural birthing process and that causes incredible pain and discomfort for the laboring mom.

And do you know how all this fear affects your body during birth? To give you a little insight, when the mother approaches labor with unresolved fear and stress, her body is already on the defensive, and the stress hormone gets triggered. Her body is sent into the “fight, flight, or freeze” response. When circumstances are such that neither “fight” nor “flight” are appropriate, as in the case of labor, the body naturally chooses the third option: “freeze”.

Since the uterus has never been designed as part of the defense mechanism of the body, blood is directed away from it to the parts of the body involved in defense. This causes the arteries going to the uterus to tense and constrict, restricting the flow of blood and oxygen. With limited oxygen and blood, the muscles of the uterus start tightening and constricting, instead of relaxing and opening as they should. The cervix remains taut and closed. All of this causes considerable pain for the laboring mother.

The situation can also have an adverse effect on the baby. Either with prolonged labors or limited oxygen supply to the baby. In fact, limited oxygen in the uterus also means that the supply of oxygen to the baby is compromised. This usually results in intervention.

Birthing without fear

So now you know that fear and stress can interrupt the body and the natural birthing process. But you know what the good news is? The opposite is also true: positive thoughts and relaxation can help the body birth with ease. Giving birth can be a peaceful and wonderful experience, if only you allow yourself to release any fear or stress, and learn how to trust your body and the birthing process.

And that is really what hypnobirthing is all about. Using different techniques to conquer your fears and become confident in what your body can do. This will allow you to relax and be one with your body, achieving a calm, gentle, comfortable, powerful and joyful birth.

In Marie Mongan’s words:

In recent year, women have been calling for their right to reclaim their birthing power. Women knew they had this capability from the beginning of time. It never occurred to the earliest of women that they didn’t know how to birth. But through years they have been taught how to birth, and in such manner that was actually contrary to their natural instinct. HypnoBirthing is helping women reclaim their ability to birth naturally.

water birth hypnobirthing

The Basis of Hypnobirthing

Before I dive into the different hypnobirthing techniques as part of these hypnobirthing basics, let me tell you a bit more about the power of the mind, which is at the basis of hypnobirthing.

For every thought or emotions, there is a corresponding physiological and chemical response withing the body. Depending on what the mind chooses to accept or perceive as being real, the body responds to it accordingly. Therefore, if we can teach our mind to “re-program” itself in believing that birth is a positive and easy process, then our body will behave accordingly by facilitating the whole birthing experience. This will result in an easier birth.

Words play a big part into this re-programming of your mind. In fact, words create thoughts and emotions. Over time these feelings become beliefs and these beliefs are reflected in our behavior, which shapes our experience. For this reason, hypnobirthing teaches to use a positive language that will keep you in a calm state, free of stress and fear.

In hypnobirthing language, many terms are substituted by more positive words such as:

  • Contractions becomes Surges or Waves
  • Due Date becomes Birthing Time or Month
  • Complications become Special Circumstances
  • Pain or Contractions become Pressure or Tightening Sensation

The Key Hypnobirthing Components Techniques

Hypnobirthing is based on some key component techniques that require daily practice to become effective. Hypnobirthing is like preparing for a marathon. You need to put in the work to condition your mind and body to go into a state of ultimate relaxation in preparation for birth. You can’t expect it to just happen.

The key component techniques are:

  • Education: knowledge is power! Understanding what happens to your body and being aware of all the changes that you go through during labor will assist you in remaining calm and confident throughout labor and delivery.
  • Relaxation: your ability to quickly go into a deep state of relaxation is one of the most effective ways of dealing with tension, stress or discomfort before or during birth.
  • Deepening: these techniques are meant to deepen your relaxation to a point where your body becomes limp and you are almost in an amnesiac state.
  • Visualization: visualization exercises fill your brain with positive pictures related to your birth. The assimilation of these visions creates acceptance, belief and confidence in achieving and easier and gentler birth like you imagined it.
  • Affirmations: birth affirmations are positive statements about you, your baby and your birthing process. Through repetition, they can turn any negative thought into a positive one. And as your mind becomes confident in what your body can do, the body follows by relaxing and birthing with ease. Read more about birth affirmations here.
  • Breathing: proper breathing will allow your body to relax and send more oxygen down your uterus. This way it will be much quicker and easier to birth your baby. Read more about the hypnobirthing breathing techniques here.
free birth affirmation cards

Perineal Massage

Perineal massage helps improve the health, blood flow, elasticity and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. As a consequence, it increases your chances of giving birth to your baby without any tears.

This massage is very important for the success of hypnobirthing and is one of the hypnobirthing basics. It needs to be practiced together with all the other hypnobirthing techniques.

For more information, refer to Perineal Massage during Pregnancy: increasing your chances of an Easier Labor.

How do I get started with hypnobirthing?

Reading testimonials online or watching YouTube videos is a good start. This online research will open your eyes to the possibilities. However, hypnobirthing is not really something that I would recommend teaching yourself at home through online articles and videos. It’s a method that requires guidance, support and practice. So you want to make sure you get it right.

The book: HypnoBirthing, The Mongan Method

I suggest you start by buying this book: HypnoBirthing, The Mongan Method. This book totally blew my mind when I bought it and it became my bible all the way till I gave birth.

Buy Hypnobirthing, The Mongan Method on Amazon <- here

Buy the book on AMAZON!

The book explains everything, not just the hypnobirthing basics. It starts by going through the history of women and birth and how women have been taught to birth in a way that is contrary to their very nature. How fear of complications caused women to look upon labor with horror and the more they are scared, the more the body is unable to perform its natural function. It explains very well how fear physiologically affects labor and goes through a variety of relaxation, breathing and visualization techniques to use during the different stages of labor. I found particularly useful reading exactly what happens to women’s uterus and body in general during labor – the old saying “knowledge is power” applies very well to giving birth!

A bonus is that the book comes with a CD with relaxation and visualization tracks.

Hypnobirthing courses

I wouldn’t stop there though. Teaching yourself at home seems easy and simple but you (and your partner) are missing out on so much! Enrolling in a hypnobirthing course will give you all the tools and support that you really need to master the skills of hypnobirthing and achieve a wonderful, peaceful and pain free labor and delivery.

The main advantages of enrolling in a course taught by certified practitioners are:

  • Your partner can get involved in the exercises as well. Never underestimate the support that a birthing partner can give you during labor and delivery. Your body is a magical thing and can do all the work. But having someone by your side that knows what’s happening and is ready to step in at any moment to remind you to focus on your breathing or to give you a relaxation massage can make all the difference.
  • You get to really work on conquering your fears through specific exercises. This is key with hypnobirthing. If there are some fears that are holding you back from reaching complete relaxation and confidence in your body, your body will be tense during delivery and you will experience pain.
  • You will have access to lots of audio and video material to help you practice during pregnancy.
  • Your teacher will be able to answer any question you may have and will be there for anything, any doubt or worry, you may encounter along the way.
  • Depending on the course, you will get to know other people in the same boat, with whom you can create a support network.

Most Hypnobirthing classes are taught face-to-face. However, more and more practitioners are giving the option to also opt for online classes. I have actually put together a list of the best online hypnobirthing courses available for people that can’t attend a course in person. All these courses offer either Skype support of Facebook support groups, so that you can ask questions any time.

Hypnobirthing Online Classes: LEARN MORE!! 

Hypnobirthing Videos

Here’s two of my favorite hypnobirthing videos. I remember I cried so many times when I was pregnant watching videos of women giving birth with hypnobirthing. Enjoy!

Hypnobirthing Audio Tracks

If you are looking for some free hypnobirthing audio tracks, here’s some websites where you can download them for free:

Hypnobirthing Books

Here’s a list of hypnobirthing books, other than the one that I mention above from Marie Mongan.

Other Resources

For more information, you can refer to the following articles:

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I learn hypnobirthing on my own?

You could possibly learn hypnobirthing on your own, as in not attending any course or online classes. However, I do not recommend it. The success of hypnobirthing really relies on your ability to conquer your fear and learn all the necessary techniques. A face-to-face or online course will definitely teach you all the proper techniques so you can master them in preparation for your birth. Even if attending an online course, I recommend enrolling in one that provides some form of support where you can talk to a practitioner if you need to ask any question.

When can I start hypnobirthing?

As soon as you find out you are pregnant! Hypnobirthing requires lots of practice. The earlier you start, the more you can master all the required techniques, the better for your birth experience!

How effective is hypnobirthing?

From shorter labors, to way less discomfort, if not pain free births. From feeling extremely empowered, to feeling totally in control. From being able to laugh in between surges, or even sleep, to experiencing the most calm, gentle, joyful birth. Just read some of the testimonials online, or even my hypnobirthing experience. Hypnobirthing can do all of this. If you learn all the techniques and you practice, you will soon find out for yourself 🙂

Does hypnobirthing really work?

100% if you put in the hard work and practice daily. And make sure you enroll in a course taught by a certified practitioner so that you can learn all the right techniques. If done right, hypnobirthing will send you on the path to the most amazing birth experience. You won’t regret it, I promise.

What are the benefits of hypnobirthing?

The benefits of hypnobirthing are countless! Overall, you, your partner and your baby will achieve a calm, gentle, confident and positive birth. What does that mean? Well, hopefully if you read this article it will be a bit clearer by now 🙂 But basically, hypnobirthing will allow you to experience a joyful birth. It will likely reduce your labor time, not make you experience any pain, reduce your chances of complication and allow you to bond with your baby while still pregnant. Also, it has a high rate of success in assisting breech-presented babies to turn into appropriate birthing position.

Are hypnobirthing babies calmer?

I am not sure if there’s any scientific evidence to this, but most hypnobirthing program will tell you that hypnobirthing babies tend to be calmer, feed better, sleep better and experience less trauma. This is because they are gently and calmly breathed into the world at their own pace. My hypnobirthing baby has sure been an extremely calm baby. She fed better straight away and also slept very well. At least until the 4 months sleep regression… but that’s another story 🙂

What is the best hypnobirthing app?

Have a look at my post on the best free hypnobirthing apps!

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Erica

    Wow, this is inspiring! Great read and am looking forward to reading more about this!

    1. Monica

      Hi Erica, thanks for the feedback! Yes, hypnobirthing can be very inspiring 🙂 Feel free to reach out if you want more information, other than what I have already written in the blog!

  2. Anthea Chilianis

    Wow! So much great information. I have always been fascinated with Hypnobirth. Haven’t quite been able to master it. Maybe with my third. If I’m luck!!

    1. Monica

      Hi Anthea! You can do it! Hypnobirthing can be amazing but it does require lots of practice 🙂 Glad I could help with this post, all the best with your third and feel free to reach out if you got any questions.

  3. Damaris Russell

    I wish I’d read this before having my little girl. I homebirthed and did read one of the hypnobirthing books but I don’t think I prepared myself enough to get rid of the negative feelings as still got quite stressed during labour.

  4. Nkem

    One of my friends really wanted to try hypnobirthing a few years ago when she was giving birth, but at the end she had to go the medicinal route, which I guess can happen. I’m nowhere near pregnant but do heavily believe in the power of the mind so I think I’d be interested in hypnobirthing when i get there.

    1. Monica

      Hi Nkem, hypnobirthing can actually really help even if having medical intervention. Many courses also cover c-sections for example 🙂 feel free to reach out if you want to find out more when the time comes!

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