From HypnoBirthing to Hypnobabies

My perspective comes from taking the HypnoBirthing® classes as a pregnant mom (2002), using Hypnobabies materials as a pregnant mom (2002, 2004, and 2006), teaching HypnoBirthing® classes for two years (2004 – 2006) and attending HypnoBirthings as a doula (2002+), and now from teaching Hypnobabies (2006+).  I do not write this to “bash” HypnoBirthing®. I do not believe there is one right way to prepare for birth for any woman, but I do sincerely hope a woman has all the information she needs prior to making her choice on how to prepare. I write this article to explain why I switched (since many have asked). I took HypnoBirthing® classes with my second baby and did have a painless birth (which is why I went on to become an instructor). It turns out, though, according to the 2005 HypnoBirthing® Institute statistics (which I was privy to as an instructor at that time) that only about a third of women birthing at home (which I did) have painless births and even fewer women have painless births in the hospitals. I was very disappointed when I learned those statistics, but they did match what I was seeing in real life. I was also really frustrated that there’s virtually no consumer info while my students are birthing in the land of early epidurals and elective inductions. In the version I taught (last updated in May 2005) there was a check-list style birth plan worksheet that did outline various options but there was not a thorough discussion of the benefits and risks of each option. What that translated to was many women submitting to medical procedures that neither they nor their babies really needed, in many cases because they didn’t have the information needed to intelligently discuss their options and alternatives.

Why I Switched

  1. Whenever I read a discussion at online bulletin boards on pregnancy sites, I consistently read stories of women who have used both and preferred Hypnobabies as being more effective and comprehensive. In real life I know of midwives who strongly recommend Hypnobabies over HypnoBirthing as well due to the very effective (more effective, it seems) Hypnobabies techniques. I think this is largely due to the hypno-anesthesia techniques taught in Hypnobabies. HypnoBirthing® teaches really good relaxation (as do other childbirth programs), but avoids teaching anesthesia techniques. Relaxation is not enough for most women to experience totally painless birthing or we’d see painless birth with Bradley and other natural childbirth methods quite frequently. Hypnobabies uses the same techniques as patients planning unmedicated surgery. It’s powerful stuff!

  2. Hypnobabies gives moms many more recorded materials with which to practice as well as written out scripts for their Birth Partners. There are now two CDs with HypnoBirthing®, but I and many other women found the limited materials to be insufficient for practice. I actually bought a supplemental set from Hypnobabies when I was planning my first birth using hypnosis. Maybe that’s why I had a painless birth. My husband and I got too frustrated trying to figure out how to make a script out of the little blurb descriptions in the HypnoBirthing® book to practice much together and appreciated the written scripts we were able to get through Hypnobabies.

  3. Hypnobabies includes consumer information. Yay! This is vital. How do you make an informed decision if you have no information? While you definitely should choose a supportive provider you trust, if you’re in an area where most providers are medically-minded you are probably going to end up choosing someone who isn’t 100% philosophically aligned with you. You need to know your stuff so that you can intelligently navigate the many options that will be offered to you. HypnoBirthing® doesn’t cover consumer information out of concern that a fear of birth would be replaced by a fear of hospitals/doctors/interventions/etc.

  4. Hypnobabies talks about fetal positioning and teaches you how to avoid back labor (which can happen even if your baby is anterior). This is really important as women in our culture tend to spend lots of time in positions that encourage a posterior baby (the typical cause of back labor). HypnoBirthing® doesn’t cover back labor at all for fear of creating an expectation in women that they will experience it.

  5. Hypnobabies gets updated regularly. Kerry (the creator) gets feedback from women using her program and changes things per their suggestions and comments. This is fabulous! Some childbirth programs never change and simply insist that any woman not satisfied with the results didn’t do it right.

  6. Hypnobabies moms are given hypnosis tools that specifically allow them to open their eyes, walk, talk, and move around while remaining completely comfortable during labor. HypnoBirthing® moms tend to stay still in order to be relaxed and in my experience had difficulty returning to a deep level of relaxation after interruptions such as going to the bathroom or talking to a nurse. Movement during labor aids in rotating the baby and bringing the baby well down into the pelvis. Upright positions help labor progress by applying the baby’s head to the cervix, thereby helping it open. Being able to stay in hypnosis while taking advantage of the positive impact on labor of movement and gravity is very important.

  7. Hypnobabies is effective for the entire birthing process, including the last portion of labor prior to pushing. In my experience, HypnoBirthing® moms do really well for the first 2/3 or so of their labors and then have difficulty remaining relaxed and comfortable for the last portion.

  8. Hypnobabies teaches gentle “ahhhhh” pushing (and we call it that!☺) while HypnoBirthing® teaches that pushing does not have a physiologic cause (ie. it’s socially conditioned). HypnoBirthing® teaches Birth Breathing instead of pushing (which I think is really the same thing as gentle, open-glottis pushing only the creator of HypnoBirthing® doesn’t seem to want to call it that). The vast majority of women birthing without medication experience the urge to push, which is often an involuntary muscle reflex rather than a conscious “my body is telling me to push and so I will push” sort of thing. I’ve known more than one midwife to express frustration and dismay over a woman fighting her body’s instincts telling her to push because she believes that she isn’t supposed to push but should instead just breathe. It is very important to listen to your body, especially when you are birthing a baby!

I do think HypnoBirthing® has good things to offer and I did give birth painlessly after taking the HypnoBirthing® class (although I also practiced mainly with my Hypnobabies tapes). HypnoBirthing® does work well for some women. I no longer felt comfortable teaching it, however, when I realized that so few HypnoBirthing® students actually experience completely comfortable birthing. I’ve found HypnoBirthing® to be most successful with home birthing women who have fewer distractions than their hospital-birthing peers. The bare-bones simplicity of HypnoBirthing® may better suit some personality types, but for women who are looking for the most effective childbirth hypnosis program available and are willing to put in the needed effort and commitment, I believe Hypnobabies is a superior choice. Hypnobabies has more content and requires more of its students, but it’s very simply laid out and explained. Women who follow the Hypnobabies program as it is taught tend to have wonderful, comfortable, joyful births.

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2 Responses to “From HypnoBirthing to Hypnobabies”

  1. shivani Says:

    Hi,
    Could you please shed some light on the fact that HypnoBabies founder flicked the HypnoBirthing Material without the HB founder’s consent and named it HypnoBabies?
    I simply chose HypnoBirthing over HypnoBabies because i did not want to rely on a program which was founded by duping others.

    • Laura Says:

      Nothing from HypnoBirthing was “flicked” or stolen or taken or used without permission or anything else to be used in HypnoBirthing. I know that is what HypnoBirthing Practitioners are taught to believe and it’s what they tell their students, but it is NOT true. When I started investigating Hypnobabies (while I was still teaching HypnoBirthing), I saw just how completely, totally, not-the-same the two programs are. Why on earth would I take the trouble of switching programs if Hypnobabies is just HypnoBirthing repackaged? I wouldn’t.

      When Kerry still taught HypnoBirthing, she did ask Mongan if she could add some things to make the class more effective for her students. It’s my understanding that Mongan said this was ok, but then changed her mind. Kerry stopped teaching HypnoBirthing after Mongan got upset. Kerry became a hypnotherapist and decided to develop a totally new program. Kerry did NOT use any of the HypnoBirthing scripts, text, etc. in Hypnobabies. HypnoBirthing uses progressive relaxation. Hypnobabies relies on medical hypno-anesthesia techniques.

      Hypnobabies uses Gerald Kein’s Painless Childbirth program, NOT anything by Marie Mongan. One of the reasons I stopped teaching HypnoBirthing is that Marie Mongan’s approach simply does not work for most women. Gerald Kein’s program, which uses medical hypno-anesthesia techniques, is far more effective for more women. That’s why Kerry (founder of Hypnobabies) asked and received his permission to use his technique as the base of a complete childbirth education course using hypnosis techniques. To this effective tool, Kerry asked and received permission to include comprehensive childbirth education articles written by many experts in the natural childbirth community. Mongan specifically did NOT include the basic childbirth education that ALL women need in order to safely navigate their options. Because of this LACK of info in HypnoBirthing, none of the info in Hypnobabies could have possibly been “stolen” from HypnoBirthing–it was never in HypnoBirthing to begin with!

      If you want to read Kerry’s story, she has written it here:

      http://www.hypnobabies.com/mylink.php?id=3802

      “I simply chose HypnoBirthing over HypnoBabies because i did not want to rely on a program which was founded by duping others.”

      Then you should have chosen Hypnobabies. Kerry doesn’t lie about other other programs in order to make people feel sorry for her and use hers. Mongan and her HypnoBirthing friends are using personal attacks rather than letting her program stand on its own merits. I’ve met both of these women in person. I’ve used both programs for my births. I’ve taught both programs. I found the HypnoBirthing organization to be somewhat toxic with negativity (another reason I left). The Hypnobabies organization has been lovely and positive. I cannot say enough good things about Kerry and all the work she has done.

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