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In hypnobirthing vocabulary babies are not delivered but “birthed” through the “birthing process,” not “labor.” And moms “breathe down” their babies, instead of pushing them out. Hypnobirthing therapists teach women how to self-hypnotize and use very slow breathing methods that coincide with the body’s natural “surges,” otherwise known as contractions.


Why should I be aware of this?

  • Hypnobirthing focuses on many of the hypnotherapy techniques to relieve fear. It uses self-hypnosis, guided imagery and special breathing techniques. Result: a shorter, easier, and more joyful birthing, free of harmful drugs for both mother and the baby.
  • Hypnobirthing technique relaxes the laboring woman’s body, guides her thoughts and controls her breathing with positive affirmations, suggestions, and visualizations. While some may need a therapist during birthing, a number of women find it easy to achieve self-hypnosis.

All about hypnobirthing

The hypnobirthing method is based on English obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read's 1944 manual 'Childbirth Without Fear'. According to Dick-Read hypnosis during the labour helps women break what he describes as the "fear-tension-pain syndrome". This is what happens - once contractions start, fear strikes the expecting mother, making the blood flow away from the uterus to muscles in the legs. This uterus responds to this outflow of blood by cramps, which cause pain. If however, the woman relaxes, the blood flow to the uterus remains normal and cramps and pain is kept a lower level. Contractions become more effective, and labour shorter.

According to proponents of hypnobirthing, if women could relax, they would experience no pain, have more effective contractions and, therefore, a shorter labor. In this calm state, the stress hormones that contribute to pain is replaced by endorphins -- naturally occurring chemicals in the body that can relieve pain. The essence is in trusting your body and your baby.


Self hypnosis brings about a calm and happy state, and if this state is reached during childbirth, the birth process progresses naturally. When the mind is relaxed it tells the body all is well. This state enables the right balance of hormones to be produced which helps optimize the effectiveness of the contractions that dilate the cervix and allow the baby to be born.

Software for your mind

Through hypnosis the mind can be trained to experience discomfort as only pressure. The critical conscious mind is by-passed with hypnosis and the inner mind can literally be reprogrammed to believe that birth will be comfortable, easy and joyous.

As drugs taken by a laboring woman can be dangerous for her, and especially her baby, hypnobirthing training teaches a woman how to enter into self-hypnosis instantly, and create her own natural anesthesia. With labor progressing, she relaxes even more, goes deeper inside herself, trusting in her body's natural ability to give birth with ease and comfort. Her mind is programmed to give her exactly what she needs.

Shorter labor with hypnosis

In a study on hypnosis and childbirth, published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, it was reported that women who used hypnosis during childbirth had shorter labor and used less pain medication. Here are some of the results from the study:

  • With hypnosis first-time moms experienced average 6.4 hours of first stage of labor compared to 9.3 hours without hypnosis
  • During subsequent birthings first stage of labor averaged 5.3 hours compared to 6.2 hours without hypnosis
  • Hypnosis moms required significantly less pain medication than the non-hypnosis moms.

Does not mean losing control

Hypnobirthing is often portrayed by some as magical, mystical and scary form of mind control.Hypnosis does not mean losing control. Though the woman gets into a trance-like state, she is fully conscious of what her body is doing. Though relaxed, the mind stays highly focused. You will be able to chat, be in good spirits and be aware of all that’s happening around you. – all within your control.

According to Marie Mongan, founder-director of the Hypno-Birthing Institute, "It allows a woman to enter a state of deep relaxation. The feeling is similar to daydreaming or when one is lost in a book or movie."

Role of birth companion

Birth companions, as partners are called, have an integral role to play in the whole birth process. He too is required to accompany her in listening to audio tapes, reading hypnobirthing books and handouts and guide the mother-to- be into hypnosis.

His presence is important during labor to help the mother focus and concentrate and to support her physically.

Benefits your baby too

Babies born with the use of hypnobirthing tend to be calmer, feed better, sleep better and experience less trauma, because they are gently and calmly breathed into the world at their own pace.

Scientific research has also shown that the babies usually have higher Agpar scores, which is a measure of how well he is faring immediately after the birth, and then five minutes later.

What can I do?

  • Shortlist qualified hypnotherapists and get to know the type of program they have for childbirth using hypnosis
  • Normally 4 to 7 sessions are required, with the last one done one week before the estimated due date. The sessions should include at least one tape or CD to listen to at home by yourself
  • Many hypnotherapists have effective childbirth hypnosis programs of their own which can be adapted to the needs of each woman. This is of big help to those who have had a past negative birth experience, or those who have specific deep-seated fears about childbirth.
  • There are many home study courses for you to choose from. You can search on the Internet for: “hypnosis, childbirth, home study.” Such programs have detailed information on hypnosis and how to use it in childbirth, and hypno-tools for you to achieve your goals; books, tapes, CD’s, handouts, hypnosis scripts. Be careful while taking a final decision as, being on your own. It is your responsibility to gain as much knowledge as possible.

What you learn in hypnobirthing classes

Hypnobirthing classes teach mums-to-be how birthing muscles are designed to work in perfect harmony when the body is relaxed. Hypnobirthing classes teach couples how to achieve the required depth of relaxation, and practice at home daily till it is time for the baby to arrive.

In hypnobirthing classes couples are taught to entertain only positive thoughts and be among positive people and surroundings. ‘Fear release sessions’ allow expectant mothers to address their fears and learn to release them through positive solutions.

Every woman is taught how to get into self-hypnosis immediately and, thereby, create her own natural anesthesia. Thus she is in total control of her body and actively participates in the birthing process.

The teaching process thus includes:

  • Techniques of relaxation and self-hypnosis in order to eliminate the fear and tension and replace it with confidence, calm, and comfort
  • The natural physiology of birth and bonding
  • Essential tools and techniques for a confident and effective birth companion
  • Techniques for shorter and easier birth
  • How to create the body's own natural anesthesia
  • Banishing the myth that giving birth is painful
  • Imparting knowledge that the mother's body is designed to work in neuro-muscular harmony with nature throughout the birthing
  • The importance of prenatal and perinatal bonding.

Practice is the key

Benefits you reap from the program are in direct proportion to the amount of time you birth.


  • A person gets into a hypnotic state because he chooses to enter that state. The hypnotherapist is only the guide.
  • Willingness, belief and motivation have great influence over hypnotizability
  • Hypnosis does not mean you are asleep or unconscious. You can always come out of that state when you wish
  • It is easier to hypnotize stronger minded and stronger willed people and not the other way around as is usually assumed.
  • In a state of hypnosis, one cannot be made to divulge information or do anything against one’s will

90 degrees

A review of hypnobirthing patients published in the British Journal Anaesthesia in 2004, actually suggested that there was evidence of a reduced need for pharmacological analgesia. Presently there is also a clinical trial being undertaken in Australia, which is expected to confirm growing reports of hypnosis making a substantial difference in alleviating pain in labour.

The trend is catching on in a big way in the US, which is showing a marked growing preference for natural birthing methods. Kathie Dolce, Assistant professor, paediatrics, at the Hypnobirthing Institute at the University of Colorado, reports that nearly 80% of cases between October 2005 and January 2008 came from the US alone.


Hypnosis myths

  • Hypnosis is a form of mind control or brainwashing
  • Hypnosis puts you in a deep sleep
  • A person who's been hypnotized has no free will
  • You can't perform usual tasks and functions if you're hypnotized
  • You're unaware of what's going on around you when you're hypnotized.


  • Why HypnoBirthing?
  • All about hypnobirthing
  • HypnoBirthing: What is it and how does it work?
  • HypnoBirthing Courses and Birth Creation Retreats

See Also