Birth for most women is a normal, natural event, so why is it that many women seem to fear their baby’s birthday rather than look forward to it? As a midwife I have seen many women actually enjoy their birth experience using hypnotherapy methods specially tailored for pregnant women and I was curious as to what made these women so different. How could I learn how to help other couples achieve the same?
I discovered Marie Mongan’s version of hypnotherapy for labour called HypnoBirthing® (it’s been around for about 15 years and is now becoming more main stream) about 8 years ago after watching this amazing birth from a woman who was 5cms dilated and didn’t ‘look’ like she was in labour. I just watched her in awe, as she sat crossed legged on the bed with her eyes shut; breathing slowly and deeply each time she had a contraction. She was so calm and relaxed; she looked like she was just meditating - not in full blown labour how many perceive it. She continued like this until it was time for her baby to be born.
Watching this woman changed my outlook on labour and I was eager to find out more.
What is the hypnobirthing method?
Quite simply it is about taking the fear away. If a woman is frightened as she goes in to labour, her body will respond to that fear. Fear creates tension in the uterus muscles and cervix, meaning they have to work harder to do their job. In other words, tension makes pain more painful.
“I was really worried that it would be
like Paul McKenna hypnosis! – but it was far from that. It was just how
to train yourself to go to deep relaxation and to be able to visualise
positive outcomes” Donna-Maria
Many couples worry when they hear the word ‘Hypnosis’ imagining walking around behaving like chickens! All hypnosis is; is when your mind is deeply relaxed so your subconscious mind comes to the forefront. We’ve all done it – ever driven home and wondered how you got there?
In HypnoBirthing women teach themselves to go in to a daydream like state using different tools such as music, deep breathing, positive affirmations and visualization.
“I used my hypnobirthing breathing, and
more importantly, visualisation, just allowing by body and my baby to
do what they needed to do.” Rachel
Once your mind relaxes, you become more receptive to positive suggestions. As the mind does not know the difference between reality and imagination, the more you give yourself positive suggestions, the more your mind believes them to be real.
There are many benefits
HypnoBirthing teaches women simple but specific self hypnosis, deep relaxation and breathing techniques to allow the mother to experience birth in an atmosphere of calm relaxation, free of fear and tension. The aim is to help the mother to release any tension or fears leading up to the labour and birth by replacing any negative thoughts or feelings with
Hypnobirthing is taught by private practitioners throughout the UK, either with a particular organisation or as qualified individuals on their own. Teachers normally will run courses lasting approximately 12 hours or so in total, either in several sessions or over the course of a weekend, and take on either small groups or, sometimes, individual couples.
As with other antenatal classes, you will learn about anatomical and physiological issues but you will also be taught other essential things such as:
- Breathing & visualization techniques
- Releasing any fears about childbirth
- How to stay relaxed, calm and focused regardless of what is going
on around you
The course includes the official HypnoBirthing book, Rainbow Relaxation & Birth Affirmation CD and course material. Once the course is completed, it is important to practice what you have learnt on a daily basis as the success of the course is strongly linked to how much practice you do.
“I can honestly say I actually enjoyed
the birth process. It was an incredible experience. My husband said at
one point he couldn’t even tell when I was having my contractions I remained
so relaxed throughout. After I gave birth to my healthy 7lb 7oz little
boy without any medical intervention I felt elated and proud of myself.
I still can’t quite believe what I achieved.” Mabel
“My whole labour, from the first surge
had lasted 3 hours, I had no pain relief, not even gas and air and didn’t
even have time to get in the birth pool! I did not tear and a few days
after Corin’s birth felt great. Corin is a beautifully “zen” baby, calm
contented and only grizzles when he needs something, which in part I ascribe
to his calm entry into the world.” Rachel
More about Marie Mongan the creator of Hypnobirthing.
Marie Mongan is an award-winning hypnotherapist who brings to her classroom over thirty years experience in education and counselling.
She is a former college dean who, early in her career, was named one of five outstanding educational leaders in New Hampshire and awarded a Ford Foundation Fellowship to Harvard University. Marie (best known as “Mickey”) is licensed by the State of New Hampshire as a counsellor and is certified as a hypnotherapist, hypnoanaesthesiologist, and instructor of hypnotherapy. She holds several awards for distinguished service and achievement in the field and is the 1995 recipient of the National Guild of Hypnotists President’s Award. Mickey is also the mother of four children, all born in the late 50s and early 60s. She experienced all four labours using the techniques of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, the pioneer in the field of natural childbirth, upon whose work she based “HypnoBirthing® – The Mongan Method”.
Two of her births were entirely free of anaesthesia at a time when it was unheard of.
by Tania Pearce, midwife