When it comes to birth plans, it can feel like there is an overwhelming number of choices for bringing your baby into the world. From choosing an epidural to “breathing through the pain” to hypnobirthing, how do you choose what is right for you? And what is hypnobirthing, anyway? Let’s find out.
Hypnobirthing is a type of technique that can be used during the process of giving birth to help the mother stay centered and focused, in the hopes of giving birth without pain medication. Just like the name suggests, hypnobirthing uses hypnosis techniques to focus thoughts during labor. However, despite the name, the mother will never actually enter into a true hypnotic trance (alas, no swinging pocket watches) during the baby’s birth. Instead, the mother will employ the techniques during labor to manage the pain in a calming, gentle way.
According to a study in the Journal of Perinatal Education, the technique of hypnobirthing was developed by a woman named Marie Mongan (it’s also called the Mongan Method). Mongan wrote a book about hypnobirthing after her own experience giving birth, when she used self-hypnosis to get through labor. Essentially, hypnobirthing aims to “release fears” in the mind that tell a woman that labor is painful; instead, it teaches a positive view of birth with deep relaxation, visualization, and self-hypnosis. Technically, you could learn hypnobirthing techniques on your own, if you want to use hypnobirthing as a method to manage labor and birth, but it is recommended that you take an official hypnobirthing class.
Does hypnobirthing actually work?
The effectiveness of the hypnobirthing method really depends on how much you prepare and if you take an official training course on the method. For instance, one study found that hypnobirthing does lead to positive birth outcomes, including less pain, less time in active labor, and fewer days in the hospital — but those results only occurred if the women took a hypnobirthing training class during their first or second trimesters and they took at least four classes.
Women who used the hypnobirthing method also had lower rates of epidurals for pain medication and higher rates of spontaneous vaginal births, so the method definitely holds some promise for women looking to avoid pain medication and C-sections. However, it is important for you to know that hypnobirthing classes do not mention any of the complications that can occur with pregnancy or the labor and birthing process, because the method is focused solely on teaching women positive aspects of birth.
How to make hypnobirthing part of your birth plan
If you know that you would like to make hypnobirthing part of your birth plan, you should include the technique in your official birth plan as part of your pain management plan. Communicate with your doctor about your plans for hypnobirthing and be sure that you are well-prepared by taking hypnobirthing classes from a reputable birth educator. In order to use hypnobirthing successfully, it’s critical that you actually take classes and practice the techniques before you actually go into labor. It’s not enough to merely say that you plan on using hypnobirthing during labor — you have to know how to do it, too.
You should also be sure to incorporate your birthing partner into your hypnobirthing plan and make sure they know what role you’d like them to play during labor and birth. Hypnobirthing can be a very intense, individual process, so it’s important to make sure your birth partner feels included in a way they are comfortable with.
Just like any other type of birth plan, it’s important that you also make room in your birth plan for flexibility. Birth can be an unpredictable event, or even a series of events, so consider hypnobirthing and any other chosen labor techniques as tools that you can use when you need them during labor — not “rules” you have to stick to while giving birth. If something ends up changing during labor, or your chosen tool is no longer working for you, it’s simply time to try another tool.