Hypnobirthing Could be The Best Kept Secret in Childbirth

encouragement hypnobirth meditation self-hypnosis Feb 16, 2021

Nearly 3/4 of birthing women believe that labor should not be interfered with unless medically necessary, however in the moment of labor there are many “normalized” medical interventions that occur. Why does this happen?

Well, there are many perspective as to the reasons of why we interfere with labor so much but let me just simplify it into this; there are two philosophies of birth and they are in direct conflict with each other. Truly combining these philosophies so that childbirth was always somewhere is the middle would require an overhaul of our current system in the United States where 99% of deliveries happen in hospitals. Seems daunting right? Even for a super-human-pregnant-ready-to-take-the-world-on mama!

What are these competing philosophies?

The most prominent of these is the medical management model. This framework starts with the premise “that pregnancy and birth are intrinsically difficult and potentially dangerous processes that when left to occur naturally, frequently result in poor outcomes.” Insert here all the interventions we commonly connect with labor and are likely familiar with such as continuous fetal monitoring, cervical exams, rupturing bag of water, medical induction of labor, etc.

The second of these philosophies is the “physiologic care” model. This model emphasizes low-technology strategies and supportive care practices to facilitate childbirth as a normal biologic process. Insert here other interventions that we may consider less often such as birthing positions, breathing techniques, natural ways to increase oxytocin, activity during labor, etc.  

There is a solution. Perhaps you could take control over bridging the two philosophies for your birth. After all you likely customized other events in your life such as your wedding, graduation celebrations, and your home. Why not customize your birth plan… make it yours?


Hypnobirthing® childbirth education could in fact be the best kept secret in the birthing world and may be ideal for bridging the gap. It is helpful for moms and their partners to have a basic understanding of these interventions, both the medical management model and the physiologic model. This knowledge helps to set the expectations for what to expect and what to request.

Having this knowledge will lessen fear, anxiety, and worry. With fear at bay, moms can carry on with the process of birth with more ease, confidence, and calm. Here is thought-proking article that can be very helpful in describing labor and it’s pain. You can access it immediately here as it is part of a short mini-course I created on Happy Birth Secrets.

The major tenet of the HypnoBirthing® philosophy is “the belief that every woman has within her the power to call upon her natural maternal instinct to birth her babies in joy and comfort in a manner that most mirrors nature.”

So, let me set the record straight about hypnosis: it's not the party trick or stage hypnosis commonly portrayed in pop culture. It's more of a form of meditation proven to help mothers relax during childbirth. It involves visualization, breathing techniques, guided meditation, and sometimes massage.

I some techniques here in my FREE mini-course on “Five Secrets to a Happy Birth,” access is immediate and includes 4 downloads including e-books.

Marie “Mickey” Mongan, M.Ed., M.Hy., Harvard University Ford Foundation member, and highly awarded hypnotherapist created HypnoBirthing®. This revolutionary hypnotherapy technique and program centered on birth education is based off of the work of Grantly Dick-Read, MD, an English obstetrician who wrote Childbirth Without Fear in 1944.

Using hypnosis, laboring women can break the cycle of what Dick-Read termed the “Fear-Tension-Pain syndrome.” It’s believed that this syndrome causes tension in the mind and body thus interfering with the natural processes of delivery, resulting in that pain.

The benefits of hypnosis as pain management in labor and birth concluded that women in the hypnosis intervention experienced less pain, decreased time in active labor, and fewer days in the hospital. The results were dependent on the attendance in classes and practice. However, benefits can be seen in a few as four classes. It is generally recommended that couple engage in the Hypnobirthing® classes around somewhere around 25-32 weeks into the pregnancy.

Relaxation through hypnosis can prevent the Fear-Tension-Pain syndrome from happening during labor. Through HypnoBirthing®, practiced deep breathing, visualization, positive prompting from their birth partners, and labor comfort measures, mothers can train their brain to draw a deep relaxation response on demand.

Rather than pain, mothers who have experienced HypnoBirthing® describe it as feeling pressure as opposed to pain, and instead of contractions they feel “surges” or “waves.” It is truly a mind over matter way of approaching labor.

The Mayo Clinic describes Hypnobirthing® as using self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques in order to prepare for and reduce the experience of labor-related fear, anxiety, and pain. It usually involves music, visualization, positive thinking, and "words to relax the body and control sensations during labor."


How the hypnobirthing method is taught matters greatly and varies widely, and that for someone people, having too rigid an expectation about how birth will go can backfire. I discuss the differences in hypnobirthing in my previous blog {LINK to blog article: Five Reasons Hypnobirthing® is Worth the Investment}

For example, if mom’s expectations of what hypnobirthing is supposed to be like can make them feel like they're failing if those expectations aren't met, it can actually cause the stress they're aiming to reduce. It is important to note that success is not solely based on the idea that hypnosis will create a 'painless' birth but rather a more comfortable birth.

It is important to acknowledge that relaxation just like labor has its ups and downs. Moms should understand the nuances of the experience such as… that they do not need to stay silent, they may become stressed at times, they won’t miss out on doing something when relaxing, making noise may work well to help them relax deeper and even better for them, and more.

It is also important to note, choice of childbirth education method does not guarantee a physiologic (natural) birth. And we do know that moms who used hypnosis experienced less pain, decreased time in active labor, and fewer days in the hospital. Also moms who used hypnosis had greater numbers of spontaneous vaginal deliveries without the use of an epidural than did women who self-selected not to use hypnosis.

These claims are supported by data. The practice has been around long enough that we can compare look at the variation between birth where Hypnobirthing® was used and when it was not. For comparing pain control modalities in both groups, approximately 20% of HypnoBirthing® mothers reported having an epidural (and less than 10% had other forms of pain medication). By contrast a non-hypnobirthing experience reports 76% of women received an epidural (22% used some form of narcotics). HypnoBirthing® also has lower rates of moms requiring cesarean delivery, with a 17% cesarean surgery rate compared to the 31.8% rate reported in 2010 United States Division of Vital Statistics. Data continues to be collected.

You can find trained and certified HypnoBirthing® practitioners in 46 countries throughout the world. Including myself, Christy Cowgill (Enter Into Calm, LLC), here in the Pacific Northwest United States. Important to note that not all Certified Hypnobirthing® Educators (CHBE) are Hypnotists/Hypnotherapists, nor are they necessarily medical or birth professionals. You can find a CHBE that best suits your needs and offers classes during the timeframe that you and your partner require.

If you’re a beginner and want more information about the upcoming Hypnobirthingâ and hypnosis for birth in general consider joining the new but growing Facebook group. Want to connect directly? Contact me


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