What exactly is Hypnobirthing?

The term Hypnobirthing originated from Michelle Leclaire O’Neill in 1987 author of “Hypnobirthing the Original Method”. Her work was based partly on previous research by English obstetrician Dr. Grantly Dick Reid.

Marie Mongan was also heavily influenced and inspired my Grantly Dick- Read’s work, when she had her first baby and set about to have a natural birth. His book ‘Childbirth Without Fear’ remains an important publication.

Thwarted by the way childbirth had become and the traumatic hospital births she had, Marie Mongan made it her mission to change things when her own daughter was pregnant. HypnoBirthing-The Mongan Method was born in 1989 in America and soon spread to Canada, the UK and worldwide! Marie sadly passed away in 2018 yet her legacy remains; her mission ‘changing the world, one birth at a time’.

Since the global success of HypnoBirthing and growing media interest with celebrities and even royalty reported to have taken hypnobirthing courses, many other methods have that have sprung up too.

However, hypnobirthing remains misunderstood and with so many teachers and different methods, there becomes a generalization when talking about it. Each ‘method’ and teacher will be intrepeting hypnobirthing differently and hold unique perspectives, which will of course be influenced not only by their training but by their experiences too.

What I share with you here about hypnobirthing is from my perspective. It is important when you are choosing a hypnobirthing course or practioner/teacher that you find out their own understanding of what hypnobirthing is.

For me, something that I would like to clarify is that it’s not about ‘doing’ hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing is not about ‘tools’ although that can be part of hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing is much, much more than that.

Hypnobirthing is a philosophy. It’s a philosophy that birth is normal, a miraculous yet normal event, not a medical pathology.

It is part of our biology, we are designed to be able to grow, birth, and nourish our babies.  It is a family event to be celebrated.

Hypnobirthing is about de-conditioning all the fear that surrounds birth. We are so conditioned by the media, by others stories and experienced and our own experiences and by society in general to fear birth and to see it as dangerous and risky, something to get through or endure, survive through. Instead of something to be actively participating in, to be looking forward to, to take pleasure in.

So hypnobirthing is about recognizing and reclaiming the power that is ours. That birth is a celebration of life!

To bring a new baby into the world and become a new parent is the most amazing gift! 

Hypnobirthing gives you the confidence to be able to look forward to giving birth and to know that you have choices in how you do so, that those are your choices- no-one gets to tell you what you are ‘allowed’ or not ‘allowed to do’ because it’s your body. 

When I teach hypnobirthing, I talk about not only birth but pregnancy as setting a blueprint for birth and then the continuum of their life earthside as newborns and as they grow, children.

Babies are learning within the womb, they are feeling their mother’s emotions and love, they are communicating right from the start, listening to our voices. They are already in utero trying to figure out the world and their place within it. 

So it’s clear that parenting really starts so early on much before your baby is born. 

Babies are sentient beings, they have memories of being in the womb, of birth and their very early days, weeks and months after they are born.

Whereas some courses only focus on the birth part, in hypnobirthing we talk about how we can consciously respect the baby during pregnancy and birth, preparing for the most gentle type of birth (this includes those that for medical reasons have chosen cesarean birth) and we also talk about pregnancy and birth as a continuum leading into the early years with your child and parenting that child with love and respect. 

So, hypnobirthing includes or can include conception, or even pre-conception all the way through to the fourth trimester, which is after your baby is born (and something you’ll learn about in your hypnobirthing course)

Hypbobirthing Misconceptions

There are quite a few misconceptions floating around when it comes to hypnobirthing. I think this probably due to how popular it is becoming and when there are more teachers and more methods there are more variable interpretations. 

Myth 1: Goal is for Pain free birth

While Marie Mongan did talk about pain-free birth in her book and within the hypnobirthing course, that was never the main focus or goal of hypnobirthing. She wanted to show that it was possible not to experience pain when birthing, that birth could be a calm and pleasurable experience. That isn’t to say that if you found birth really painful that you’ve failed a hypnobirthing! My last birth was so painful but mind-blowingly amazing!!! 

In hypnobirthing, you’ll learn:

  • How the brain interprets pain signals and how you can alter your mindset in how you think about pain in a way that can make birthing more comfortable.
  • We share tools around how to minimize pain and the way the body has its own way of dealing with pain and how we can encourage the right hormones to tap into that. 
  • You will learn how birth can be less painful when you are not in fear, fighting against your contractions and instead are able to welcome them, surrender and let go.
  • You’ll learn some tools of how to use hypnosis, visualization and breath work to be able to feel more deeply relaxed in your pregnancy and in your labour too.

Ultimately, working with your body rather than against it. 

Myth 2: Sssh! Quite births, only!

This is a misconception that really annoys me, especially as a noising birther,myself!!

If you find yourself making a whole lot of noise, mooing or roaring noisily when birthing, rest assured you have not ‘failed’ hypnobirthing, firstly because there is no failing when it comes to hypnobirthing.

Sound, for many women, can be greatly soothing, yet we have this idea of hypnobirthing as being completely quiet, calm and serene- it can be for some but for others, it can be wild, noisy, raw and primal.

Neither is right or wrong!

Myth 3: Hypnosis is mind control

Nope! There are no swinging pendulums and I’m not the ‘Demon Headmaster’ with those swirly creepy eyes (anyone remember that?!)

Actually, self-hypnosis which is what hypnobirthing uses, is more commonplace than you’d think.

Have you ever watched a really fantastic film in the cinema and been so utterly engrossed in it, that when you come out you can’t believe 3 hours have passed?

How about a great book that you just can’t put down and all over distractions just fade completely into the distance…

How about you or someone you know who enjoys football watching a match and you just can’t get their attention,

Do you knit or crochet or play video games?

All of these things utilize self-hypnosis

Anytime you have been hyper focused you are accesing a different brain wave state and are in self hynosis at various levels.

It’s like imagining a zoom lens on a camera and you are able to zoom right in to focus really well on one part but should you need to see the whole picture again, you can quite easily zoom back out. 

It’s a way of reaching a deeper level of relaxation, and really being able to shut out all the other distractions so you can focus just on letting your body do what it knows how to do.

To be able to go inwards into your body and follows it’s cues rather than holding all this tension and resistance, fighting against the contractions and feeling scared and anxious.

So in summary hypnobirthing encompasses a philosophy within its education, that teaches you to:

Let go of the fear that surrounds birth

To feel confident in looking for toward birth

To understand and recognize our rights and choices in birth

To respect the baby as an active participant in birth and a sentient being during pregnancy too.

To understand how birth works

How to relax deeply with the ability to focus inwards and minimize outside distractions

To reclaim pregnancy, birth and parenting as a celebration and rite of passage.

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with hypnobirthing!

If you are pregnant and would like to learn more about my Northamptonshire hypnobirthing classes please do get in touch. I offer mainly private, personalized classes within your home to work around your schedule and unique needs.