What is Hypnobirthing?

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© HypnoBirthing Institute

I’ve mentioned Hypnobirthing® a few times before, so I decided to dedicate a post to explain it to those who may not know about it.

When my wife signed up at our local birth center they informed us that we would need to take a birth education class. I can’t say that I was entirely excited because and I figured I knew everything I needed to know, but I want to be a supportive husband so I gave it a try. Then, my wife tells me that it’s called “Hypnobirthing” and I had mental images of creepy hypnotists telling us to do all sorts of strange things. I had fears for a moment that we had gone down some sort of dark, ultra-crunchy granola road. I remember the first evening as we drove to the birth center telling my wife something to the effect of, “I’m worried this is going to be some sort of hawkward (our code-word for super awkward) experience and I’m going to be really uncomfortable.” Being the wonderful woman she is, she assured me it would probably be okay, and by the end of our first class I realized my expectations were far from reality. So, what is this HypnoBirthing thing?

Hypnobirthing is:

  • A natural childbirth method enhanced by self-hypnosis
  • Family centered–The mother, father (or partner) and children are all included and encouraged to participate in the birthing experience
  • A method that teaches the woman that her body is not broken, but that in the majority of cases is capable of a natural birth without medical intervention
  • Focuses on positive thoughts and outcomes to overcome fear and pain (A major teaching of Hypnobirthing is that fear causes tension in the body which then causes pain. If one learns to release that fear, pain becomes a non-issue).

Hypnobirthing is not:

  • The hypnosis you see portrayed on TV and in movies–It is a method of self-hypnosis. You are in control of you body and thoughts at all times and are never asked to do anything that w0uld put you, your birthing partner, or your baby along a harmful path.
  • A path to forget the “pain” of birth–As stated above, the woman is very aware of what her body is doing and she has a memory of the entire experience.
  • Anti-hospital or doctors. Only 13% of Hypnobirthing woman birth outside of the hospital. (For more stats see: http://www.hypnobirthing.com/US_Outcomes_Summary_2010.pdf)

Having completed the classes a few weeks ago, I realize that the Hypnobirthing method is not far off the path of normalcy. It is actually how woman have birthed for centuries before modern medicine. It did not have a name, but many of the practices came from times of old. It is structured on the research and writings of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, an early natural birth advocate.

I also love the positive focus of Hypnobirthing. My undergraduate degree is in music education and my principal instrument was voice. The positive focus and fear release go right in hand with my vocal training, so when I learned about the breathing methods and fear/tension release it made perfect sense. As a singer, if I have fear about a particular approaching passage (or for me, the dreaded high note) I would often tense up, making it much more difficult to be successful negotiating in the passage. I also know that if I was particularly tense, it actually would make singing painful and much more fatiguing. In contrast, if I was properly prepared and had any excessive tension in check, then I was much more successful.

We are taught in Hypnobirthing, that pain is the product of our fears. Everyone has seen that TV and movie scene where the laboring woman is screaming in pain and cursing and hitting her husband because, “You did this to me.” Women hear the birthing story of every person they know (usually unsolicited) and how painful, long, difficult, etc. it was for them. Women in American society are conditioned from an early age to fear birth, and it approaches (just like my high-notes) they become tense, their muscles constrict, blood flow is slowed, and they feel pain. The typical medical professional is not equipped to teach women to release those fears, but rather, is equipped to offer medication and other interventions to save them from the pain of childbirth. The medical professionals are only treating the symptom (pain), and not the root cause (fear).

I am very excited to share the results of our Hypnobirthing journey in the coming months. So far, it has been a very joyful experience. Are there any other Hypnobirthing parents out there? Please, share your experience or comments below or by send me an email and I’ll include you in an upcoming post. If you’re interested in Hypnobirthing classes, look here for a local practitioner.

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This YouTube video is an excellent example of Hypnobirthing at a birth center. Notice how calm and relaxed the mother is during the whole experience.


My Gifts

I remember during our last pregnancy I was very anxious about everything. As a new father, I felt the need to provide for my family. We were newly married, still in school and the only way we brought in money was from financial aid and my part-time job. Pregnancies are expensive and children are even more expensive. It felt like the costs kept adding up. I know for my companion, she was dealing with the fear and anxiety of pregnancy and birthing on top of the same fears of my own. In the end, it all worked out through many timely blessings and gifts from others. We did without some things, but the love was strong and strengthened our marriage.

This time, I find I don’t feel those same fears anymore. We still face many of the same issues, but this time I have faith and experience to know it will work out. I’ve noticed my fears have been worry about our birthing experience. I am worried a special circumstance will appear and force us into the medical model with it’s many interventions. This is where I’ve noticed the Hypnobirthing® is making a big difference. I’ve learned to relax my mind and to ease those fears, so that I can be a calm and strong birthing partner. My spouse and I spent the evening before talking about our fears and talking them through. We then took the ones we couldn’t resolve to class where they were released. While I didn’t participate directly in the release, it was a peaceful experience.

As we are at the Eve of Christmas, I reflect on the many gifts in my life. I am thankful for the gift of a beautiful wife who has the intelligence to listen to her body and make the choices that are best for her and our new baby. I am thankful for a beautiful daughter and a son on the way. For me, this is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ and to reunite with family members. May we each remember the reason why we each celebrate this time of year (whatever it may be) and not become caught up in the commercialism. While the main purpose of this blog is not to share my faith, this video helps illustrate my feelings:

May you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and/or Happy whatever-holiday-you-celebrate.

My experience thus far

I noticed that there is a lack of birth stories from a father’s perspective and more specifically, from one whose partner has chosen to birth naturally. Our first child was born vaginally at a hospital in a less that ideal situation. She was born healthy and without any complications, of which I am grateful. However, the various medical interventions contributed to difficult bonding the first few weeks postpartum and left us both with bittersweet memories.

This time is different…We are approaching birth from a completely new perspective and in a completely new environment. For our second child, we are Hypnobirthing® in a stand-alone birth center. We both feel so much more comfortable in this new setting.

My intention is to document my experience in hopes that it might be helpful for someone else. Please visit again to read more.


Things I’m thinking about:

  • 26 weeks passed, more than half way done
  • Favorite blog: Birth Without Fear
  • Tonight: Our third Hypnobirthing class