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What is Hypnobirth?

Updated on June 20, 2011

Hypnobirth helps mothers relax and possibly even enjoy a natural childbirth. Once they hit the third trimester, most moms start to get anxious about childbirth. Live with one of these women and you may be watching childbirth movies and television shows, hearing about every possible birth complication, and poring over birth plans. You may even be practicing natural childbirth pain relief positions with a birthing ball. The anxiety is normal, and hypnosis can help. 

Benefits of Hypnobirth

  • Ability to manage pain naturally means less reliance of drugs and therefore decreased risk of side effects on mother and baby.
  • Relaxation of the birthing muscles and the ability to work with the body instead of against it can result in shorter labor.
  • If a laboring mother is able to forego some or all pain medication, she will be more awake and aware for the birth.
  • Creation of a calm, peaceful birthing environment.
  • It may be easier to turn breech and posterior babies due to the relaxed state achieved during hypnosis.
  • Hypnobirthing supports natural childbirth, which by definition means fewer interventions and complications during labor.

How Hypnobirthing Works

Many women use hypnobirthing to have a natural childbirth. Hypnosis is also helpful for home birthing. Hypnosis is common for many therapeutic applications in medicine, dentistry, and mental health therapy. The hypnotic state achieved during hypnobirth may be guided by a hypnobirthing specialist or a doula, but it is completely controlled by the expectant mother. The goal of hypnosis during childbirth (and in preparation for childbirth) is to retrain the brain to interpret the pain of childbirth as merely pressure or sensation. Through guided exercises prior throughout pregnancy, women practice various relaxation and “reprogramming” techniques in order to maximize relaxation during labor.

Using HypnoBirth to Reprogram Childbirth Expectations

Although childbirth is a natural and normal part of life, in the modern Western world we are inundated with negative expectations of the childbirth experience. We are taught that to give birth we must endure hours (if not days) of agonizing pain. Labor horror stories from well-meaning family and friends leave us terrified of the unknown. Proponents of hypnosis for childbirth believe that much of the pain we experience during labor can be attributed to our expectation that it will be painful.

Using hypnobirthing techniques, expectant couples flood their minds with positive people and messages in order to create a positive perception of childbirth. They envision a beautiful, peaceful, and painless experience, working through fears that can create tension—and therefore pain—during labor.

Image Credit: SeanMcGrath, Flickr


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