HypnoBirthing – A Celebration of Life

By Leanne Jackson

HypnoBirthing is as much as a philosophy as it is a technique. It is a rewarding, relaxing, stress free method of birthing that is based on the belief that when a mother is properly prepared for birthing physically, mentally and spiritually, she can experience the joy of birthing her baby in an easier, more comfortable and often even pain free manner. HypnoBirthing returns to women the art of birthing in a way that allows her to summon her natural birthing instincts. HypnoBirthing is based on the belief that severe discomfort does not need to be a natural accompaniment of labour.

The HypnoBirthing advantages include:

1. Eliminates the “Fear – Tension – Pain Syndrome” before, during and after birthing.
2. Reduces the need for chemical anesthesia.
3. Eliminates fatigue during labour, leaving the mother fresh, awake and with the energy needed to bring her baby into the world.
4. Shortens the first stage of labour by several hours and often eliminates the need to push to bring the baby to the crowning stage.
5. Brings together the mother, the baby, and the birthing companion in a wonderful prenatal and perinatal bonding experience.
6. The birthing companion is an integral part of the birthing, not just an onlooker.
7. Postnatal recovery is rapid and easier.
8. Babies are better adjusted and happier.
9. Mothers don’t run the risk of hyperventilating from shallow breathing.
10. Birthing is returned to the beautiful, peaceful experience that nature intended.

The HypnoBirthing program was developed by Marie Mongan in 1989, a teacher and counsellor, who through her own experience of childbirth knew there was a better way than that proposed by the hospitals of the USA in the 1950’s. The premise that birthing by nature, had to be a painful ordeal was totally unacceptable to her. She could not believe that our bodies created with such perfection could have been designed with a procreation flaw. She began researching natural childbirth when she was expecting her first baby in 1955. She discovered the book Childbirth Without Fear written by Doctor Grantly Dick-Read and knew immediately that this method was the answer to the drug free, painless birthing that she was seeking. She began to focus on the techniques for eliminating the “Fear-Tension-Pain Syndrome”.

Marie Mongan was able to implement the techniques successfully, but unfortunately the hospital system at the time insisted that once the baby was at the pushing stage the mother was to be given ether, the baby pulled out, and then she was only allowed to see him in the morning. This happened twice but on her third pregnancy she insisted that the birth be done the way she wanted and she delivered a little girl without any drugs or anesthetics or pain.

In 1988, Marie added hypnotherapy to her counselling practice and it was not long after that her now grown up daughter became pregnant. Realising that she had in fact used self hypnosis during her births, Marie wanted her daughter to experience the same gentle birth for her baby. So with a combination of the breathing techniques of Dr. Dick-Read and hypnosis, the program was developed and the first HypnoBirthing baby was born in January, 1990.

Dr. Grantly Dick-Read (1890 – 1959) was a physician who, through his work in obstetrics and his book Childbirth Without Fear returned to women their right to truly natural childbirth.

The course of Read’s life was changed by a comment made to him by a birthing mother while attending her birth in Whitchapel in 1913. During the second stage of labour, Read tried to offer the mother chloroform to ease her pain. She resented the suggestion and pushed the mask away. Read had the presence of mind to step back and just watch. He writes of the incident “As I was about to leave sometime later, I asked her why it was that she would not use the mask. She did not answer at once but looked out the window through which was bursting the first light of dawn and shyly she turned to and said, it didn’t hurt. It wasn’t meant to, was it doctor?”

After a couple of similar experiences, it prompted him to rethink his beliefs and what he had been taught about birthing. From his study came his theory that in the absence of fear during labour, the pain causing constructors are not prevalent, and the uterus is able to naturally efface, open, swell rhythmically and expel the baby with ease.

We have learned from his writings that what’s wrong with labour has nothing to do with our physiology; and when we are given proper preparation our labours can unfold as they were intended. Simply put, we can learn that what’s wrong with labour takes place long before a woman goes into labour. It starts with fear. The fear that is thoroughly ingrained in the minds of women as they approach their time of birthing. Fear has been perpetuated and it has become a self fulfilling continuum – pain is to be expected, fear is prevalent, the body is tense and pain is experienced.

It wasn’t always like this. Nearly 3000 years ago when a woman was about to give birth, everyone gathered around her for the “celebration of life” to bless the child with health and strength. Birthing was a religious rite, and not at all the painful ordeal it was later to become. It is worthwhile noting that neither Hippocrates or Aristotle, both doctors of the time, referred to pain in their notes on normal birthing.

Unfortunately about 2000 years ago, things began to change when religion then stated that women were not allowed to be attended to during birthing and should there be complications then the baby was to be cut from the mother’s stomach and she would be left to die. And so the fear of dying became paramount which created the tension which created the pain!

Hopefully, we have now come full circle and it is time for mothers to once again experience the joy of a celebration of life and to return birthing to the way it was meant to be.

Natural childbirth is still relatively young, but the belief that labour is a painful experience has had centuries to become imbedded in the minds of women and the medical caregivers. Unfortunately, doctors, midwives, childbirth educators and health care providers reinforce the pain concept through their choice of words and advice during childbirth education classes and labour rooms. Women themselves still believe that there must be pain in childbirth and that the best they can do is learn how to survive it, rather than learn how to alleviate it.

Through self hypnosis, relaxation and natural techniques taught in HypnoBirthing classes we can move forward and replace fear and anxiety with confidence, serenity, happiness and celebration. This natural birthing method teaches you how to allow your mind, your body and your baby to work together in natural harmony to provide for you the safe and satisfying birth that is rightfully yours.

HypnoBirthing consists of four two hourly sessions for both mother and the other person who will be at the birth. The mother is taught her own set of relaxation techniques which mainly consists of deep breathing and visualisation. The partner applies other techniques to keep her in the deepest state, when most needed. The mothers learn to work with their birthing body, not against it.

The first session is called ‘de-hypnotising’ session. It is explained how we originally took up the thought patterns that childbirth is painful, and how we have kept the program in our subconscious until it is now our belief pattern. Along with the explanation of how our uterus works, and videos of mothers giving birth using this method, the first breathing technique is begun.

The second session begins with techniques on how to bond with our baby while still within us and how we can use this connection on the day of the birth. The first of many techniques that the partner can apply is commenced and both parties get to experience the very deep relaxation that can be achieved when needed towards the mid to late first stage.

The third session talks about the birth plan, techniques for endorphin release and also a very deep fear release segment which removed the negativity from the subconscious.

The fourth session combines all the techniques as the mother and partner put in place the support system they will use on the day. The mother also receives a lovely programme given to the subconscious for the beautiful, calm, serene birth she will have.

Many couples are now using this program and all have very satisfying birth experiences. Our wish is that this program will be available to all birthing mothers so that everyone’s birthing story will be one that is a celebration of life.