When I was pregnant with my son, I began researching HypnoBirthing®, a childbirth preparation technique that I was somewhat familiar with through my work as a doula. I had seen it have impressive results and I wondered if I might be able to learn and apply the techniques to my own birth in order to have a calm and empowering experience. During my research, I learned that The Mongan Method of HypnoBirthing was the original HypnoBirthing method. HypnoBirthing was reported to reduce the need for chemical anaesthesia, episiotomy and other interventions and was based on the belief that severe discomfort did not necessarily have to be part of birthing when a woman is properly prepared and trusts in her body. I decided that this would be the course for me and not one for doing things by halves, I decided to take the full plunge and get certified as a HypnoBirthing Practitioner at the same time so that I could teach it to other women.

HypnoBirthing allowed my husband and I to approach our birth without fear. During my labour, it helped to keep anxieties at bay and really helped me through my challenging labour. Although I wouldn’t describe by labour as pain-free as some HypnoBirthing mothers report, I found it manageable (similar to food poisoning cramps for much of it) and after laboring from Saturday until Monday, I finally gave birth naturally (woo-hoo!)

The premise of HypnoBirthing is pretty simple; it reinforces that our bodies were designed to give birth, and like most natural processes, it does pretty well when it’s just left to get on with it. It builds on the work of British Obstetrician, Grantly Dick-Reed who believed that fear was the root of the extreme pain that a woman might experience during childbirth. By teaching a variety of techniques to help families relax and release their fears, HypnoBirthing works to eliminate the Fear-Tension-Pain syndrome that Dr Grantly Dick-Reed identified, before during and after birthing.

From a very early age we are programed to believe that birth is going to be a difficult and incredibly painful experience. Birth on TV, it is always overly dramatized. According to births seen on screen, labour begins when a woman’s waters break in a big gush (usually somewhere public). Her contractions (or surges as we call them in HypnoBirthing) will then have her doubled over in pain, she will be rushed to the hospital and her husband or birth partner will probably feel unprepared for their supportive role and unsure of how to help. Once at hospital the mother will be directed to lay down on her back and shouted at to push her baby into the world. At some point during the process, she will rant and rave and beg for drugs. Of course, there is the optional ending where her baby will need to be saved by the doctor due to some unforeseen and emergency complication. In TV land, there is about a 50% chance of the high drama, emergency ending. There would be far fewer births depicted on TV shows or films if they portrayed how labour and birth usually is; building up in intensity gradually, sometimes even a little boring and in the vast majority of cases, without the special circumstances that bring a sense of impending peril with them.

HypnoBirthing works by helping us to become unprogrammed and to release those fears that we might have unwittingly picked up along the way. Sometimes we don’t even know what we are truly worried about until we allow ourselves to reflect. Birth companions are very much involved in the HypnoBirthing program and are taught a variety of practical techniques that allow them to assist the laboring mother through facilitating relaxation, advocating for the mother and baby and offering physical comport measures for a more comfortable, calm and empowering birth experience. The Mongan Method achieves these things through:

 

Education – Parents learn about what’s normal in birth and they learn to unlearn a variety of myths and untruths surrounding birth. They are educated on a wide variety of things such as how the uterus works, the role of hormones and how to be their own advocates in the birth room.

Affirmations – As Yoda said “do or do not, there is no try!” Our world is a reflection of the beliefs we hold and positive affirmations for birth can be a useful tool in helping us to change these beliefs and setting a positive expectancy.

Visualisations – Have you ever heard the phrase “keep your eyes on the prize”? Visualising the results that you want help you to maintain your focus on achieve a positive end result.

Relaxation – Through learning a variety of relaxation techniques, parents create a conditioned ability to slip into relaxation at any given moment; bringing about the same state of calm they will use during labour.

Deepening – Ultra deepening techniques allow parents to increase the sense of relaxation even further, until the mother is so thoroughly relaxed that she is in an almost amnesiac state and is able to let her birthing body do the work.

Special breathing techniques – Different breathing patterns are taught for the various stages of labour to assist with maintaining a sense of calm, eliminating the risk of shallow breathing and to assist with gently breathing the baby into the world.

HypnoBirthing makes a difference to all births, but it benefits different couples in different ways. With so many different tools taught throughout the course, families are able to choose that ones that work for them and decide which tools they want to take out of the proverbial toolbox. It’s not a one size fits all approach which makes sense to honor the uniqueness in all of us!