Sunday, July 22, 2012

My Take on Hypnobabies

*I would like to start by saying, I am not being reimbursed in anyway, nor am I endorsed by Hypnobabies for this post. This is just my honest personal assessment of the program that I would like to share with others in hopes that it may benefit someone.*  

My first experience giving birth was not at all what I hoped.  I was thinking I would get through it naturally.  But when I didn't go into labor on my own by 42 weeks, I was induced and ultimately had a c-section --- this was the opposite end of the spectrum from what I was thinking would happen.  
I really struggled with disappointment over this, as well as a lot of fear towards any future birth experiences.  

So when I thought about having more children, I knew I would need some sort of way to work through  these fears --- some way to cope with the entire pregnancy (full of nervous anxiety) as well as the delivery.  

I looked into a lot of stuff, and incorporated a lot of it.
But one of the biggest helps to me was Hypnobabies.

Before I purchased the home study program I was fairly apprehensive about it.

The idea of hypnosis, in general, was something I was pretty unfamiliar with, and I was worried the whole idea was kinda crazy and ineffective.  Also, as a Christian, I was was worried about its compatibility with my faith.

I, like many people, had really only seen hypnosis done like in the stage hypnosis shows where people seem unable to control themselves, act goofy and provide entertainment for the audience.

But that's not what Hypnobabies is like at all.

In reality hypnosis is a state of focused concentration where the body and mind relax together.   Hypnosis is, very simply, a natural state of mind in which the body and mind are extremely relaxed and yet the mind is also highly aware and focused.  In this state, your subconscious mind will accept positive suggestions with ease.

Hypnosis is a very normal state of being that we all experience many times a day already... to regenerate and renew.

Examples of everyday hypnotic states which you have already experienced naturally: 
1. Driving the car (Ever drive home from work and are unable to remember actually driving?)  
2. Riding the elevator  
3. Watching TV, movies, computer screens or video  
4. Being bored by another person  
5. Waking up and going to sleep  
6. Daydreaming using hypnosis sessions is just helping the mental state occur at a specific time.  

At this time Hypnobabies uses CDs/MP3s with scripts to train the inner mind using positive affirmations, imagery, and visualization to re-program any thoughts about pregnancy and birth in a very positive way to remove pain and fear from the birthing experience.  A large part of the training works towards teaching your inner mind to perceive that contractions in labor will be felt only as pressure, pushing, pulling and baby movement sensations.  Hypnobabies uses the same kind of hypnosis techniques that people employ when preparing for surgery without any medication, which is called hypno-anesthesia.  

Hypnobabies is based on the work of Gerald Kein and his Painless Childbirth program.  Rather than using mind tricks or distraction techniques, you will learn hypno-anesthesia techniques that will allow you to create and control your own anesthesia while birthing.  Hypnobabies teaches a variety of techniques to relax and enter hypnosis instantly and create anesthesia while still allowing you to open your eyes and move or talk while remaining comfortable in hypnosis!  Other childbirth methods teach wonderful relaxation techniques for use during birthing.  While relaxation does help reduce discomfort, many women find that hypno-anesthesia techniques to be much, much more effective (as is evidenced by the very high percentage of Hypnobabies moms reporting painless childbirth).  Around 70% of moms who use Hypnobabies report painless/very comfortable birthings with another 15 -- 20% saying their births were not painless, but still quite manageable.  
One of the best aspects of this class is that you will be able to eliminate the fear that causes tension and pain in birthing, a necessary step for any woman soon to give birth.  Fear causes tension, which is a source of pain while birthing.  

All Hypnosis is Self-Hypnosis!

You are always in control of your mind and your body while in hypnosis.  You choose to enter hypnosis, stay in hypnosis, accept the suggestions, and emerge from hypnosis at all times.  

Hypnosis is a state of relaxation in which you are: 

1. In total control  
2. Can accept or reject any suggestions you hear  

Hypnosis is not: 

1. Being controlled by someone else  
2. A loss of self control  
3. A state of unconsciousness  
4. A state of sleep  

As far as hypnosis being compatible with my Christian faith:

You can find a lot of Christian opinions both for and against hypnosis, so I had to go with my own research and what I felt God was telling me in my heart.  

If hypnosis is a potential issue for you as well, I encourage you to also research the topic and pray about it.  After that, if you still feel a check in your spirt about using it, it would be best for you to avoid it.   One: because of what's going on between you and God.  
And Two: because if you are in a state of anxiety over using hypnosis, it won't be effective for getting over anxiety for birthing.  

In my research here are some things I have read on the topic: 

Some Christians say that hypnosis is wrong because among occult practices listed in Deuteronomy 18:10-11 is “one who casts spells”.  

Hypnotists (hypnotherapists) do not “cast spells”.  They help you relax as you drift into a mental state on the border of consciousness and sleep.  This is the state of mind that allows change to happen.  With repetition, which may take a few days or perhaps six weeks, positive suggestions can bring positive change.  A common misconception is that hypnotized people don't know what is happening around them.  But they almost always do know, and that is one of the most common statements of surprise from people when they first come out of hypnosis.  In self-hypnosis you have to remain conscious, otherwise you would fall asleep and be unable to give yourself suggestions.  Obviously that would not benefit you.  You are never under “a spell”.  

What is the difference between hypnosis and other types of trances, such as Transcendental Meditation, yoga, or Zen Buddhism? 

The state is similar for all non-drug, trance-like states.  The trance state is around the point where your consciousness borders on sleep.  We all pass through this point every night as we relax and drift into sleep.  But the reason for staying in this state a little longer differs in its purpose.  

Transcendental meditation may calm people down, but it requires them to repeat the name of a Hindu god while they are meditating, so it is unsuitable for Christians.  In deep Christian meditation and intense prayer, your thoughts usually focus on some aspect of God or the Bible, and you allow God to refresh your mind or show you some insight into Him or His Word.  

What does the Bible say about hypnosis? 

Hypnosis is a modern word, so you won't find it in the Bible.  (It used to be called hypnotism, and a form of it was known even earlier asmesmerism, but the Bible was written long before even those words were invented.)  The trance-like state you enter in self-hypnosis seems to parallel some of the trances and visionary states in the Bible (for example Numbers 24:4; Daniel 2:19; Acts 10:10, 11:5, 22:17; Revelation 1:10).  In strongly focused deep prayer and meditation you may drift into a hypnotic trance.  The Apostle Peter said he was praying and in a trance when he saw a vision (Acts 11:5; 10:10).  

The common negative Bible verse opponents raise against hypnosis is Deuteronomy 18:10–11, but as we saw earlier, this doesn't refer to hypnosis because the description is wrong.  

Christians who say hypnosis may lead to demon possession, or may seduce Christians into the occult, are confusing practice with purpose.  Voodoo priests in Africa have a different purpose for using hypnosis than do doctors in London and New York treating patients for allergies or stage fright.  

This is from the Hypnobabies website on the subject: 

In Hypnobabies we are simply guiding the process in a very positive way to create an easy, fear-free comfortable childbirth experience.  Since our program is designed for women of every faith and belief system to use, it contains no “new-age” or other content that would offend anyone.  Many of our Hypnobabies moms are Christian and have had wonderful success with Hypnobabies while incorporating their beliefs into our hypnosis scripts and practice as well as adding prayer into the actual hypnosis when giving birth.  

Here are my thoughts on Hypnobabies and Christianity, for what they are worth: 

After using the course I agree that Hypnobabies really does not have any specific religious, occultic, or new age, overtones at all.  

There is no talk of leaving the body.  There is one track promoting you to imagine you are in a special safe place.  But you are never directed to leave your body to get there, you just imagine being there.  This idea is exactly what they told us to do in my hospital birthing class before my first daughter was born.  It's a pretty standard idea in birthing relaxation.  

While listening to this track you are also asked to "hold your baby in your arms" while you are there.  I don't personally see that as a problem.  For me it's a nice way of helping you connect with your baby, which can be kinda hard to do sometimes when you are pregnant and your baby don't always seem tangible yet.  

The closest phrase in the tracks to anything New Age, is something she says on only a few tracks while you are starting to relax.  

She says, "With each inhale you breath in the peaceful energy that surrounds you and with each exhale you breathe out any tension stored in your body."  

The word "energy" may be off-putting to you if you think of it in the sense that New Age uses it.  But you can also look up the word for its original definition and see that it means: The force driving and sustaining mental activity.  (Merriam-Webster)  

There was one sentence that initially made me apprehensive.  At the start of sessions she asks you to affirm to yourself:

"I willingly open and expand my consciousness and awareness, and I am completely open to all suggestions of learning, so that I will have an easy and comfortable birthing."  

It just sounded fishy to me initially.  Honestly, the more I thought about it, the more it wasn't weird to me.  If this statement was followed up by something spiritually yucky, then I would have a problem with it.  But it is followed by "suggestions of learning" such as: 
  • "after each pressure wave (contraction) you smile and are so relaxed"  
  • "with each pressure wave you will feel calm relaxed and self assured."   
  • "with each birthing wave you feel only pressure"  
  • "each pressure wave is strong and effective, dilating and effacing your cervix quickly and efficiently"  
  • "and you know you have plenty of room for your baby to just come down and out easily"  
  • "when your baby is crowning and being born you feel complete relaxation."  
So I'm okay with opening and expanding my consciousness and awareness to such things.  

The entire program is basically just positive affirmations and visualizations of similar statements.  Saying more things like: "My body knows how to nurish the baby."  "My body knows just how to give birth."
I know God did a great job making womens' bodies, and he designed them to be able to do these things.  And If God made the body able to birth, then it's a wonderful idea to ingrain that in my mind.  I believe He did all things well, including making my body well.  And focusing on positive affirmations is one way to help me work through what happened with my last birth and believe in His brilliance in creating my body.  

The other thing Hypnobabies does is teach you how to, in essence, be numb to your belly (hypno-anesthesia) so you can stay relaxed and not fight the contractions so you can dilate (they call the contractions call "pressure waves", to help you focus on it as a positive thing).  Personally, I don't see how attempting to numb your belly during a contraction could leave you open to anything occultic or demonic, since basically all labor coping techniques are trying to get you to think about anything but your belly.  If trying to take focus off your belly did that, labor in and of itself would then be opening you up to demons --- and God created labor, so that can't be the case.  

So those are my own thoughts on it.  
For me, after research, prayer and waiting on God, I felt very comfortable with the entire thing.  
But if you have doubts, do I encourage you to seek God on this on your own and not just take my word on it.  

Hypnobabies is a Comprehensive Birthing Course

After my c-section I become a bit obsessed with birthing information, and did tons of research on the subject.  I was really impressed after receiving my Hypnobabies Course kit, to see that it covered pretty much everything I had dug up in that time.  
It really does cover A LOT of great information.  
Certainly much, much, much more than a standard hospital birth education class.  

Seemingly one of the gold standards in natural birthing classes is the 12 week Bradley course.  I haven't taken this course myself, but have looked into it, and from what I have heard (no one get mad, I'm not claiming to know for sure), Hypnobabies seems to cover all the same information it does, and then additionally introduces the hypnosis aspect.  (In fact, the founder of Hypnobabies started out teaching the Bradley courses before embarking on creating this course, so I am sure she is well educated on all of the topics.)  

Here is some more information on the course taken from Hypnobabies Website: 
Hypnobabies is in no way a "listen only" program like other hypno-programs are, and our results demonstrate that.  Listening to Hypnobabies Childbirth Hypnosis tracks alone doesn't make sense without the detailed instruction in our 2 workbooks and handouts.  

There is a great deal of very important information which is designed to educate our wonderful moms why and how their hypnosis tracks work, what order to listen to them in, what information and suggestions are in each track, why each track is important in the program and… 

  • How excellent nutrition, exercise and staying healthy & low risk factor into having a safer pregnancy and a much easier birthing…as well as…  
  • The risks, benefits and alternatives to common obstetrical procedures and how they affect a normal birth, including thorough consumer issues which present valuable ways to be proactive in creating a more comfortable birth.  The understanding of how to easily take responsibility for the decisions made in pregnancy, childbirth and post-partum is critical (for all moms) in creating a much calmer, more relaxed and comfortable birth experience and more positive communications with birth care providers…and…  
  • Optimum Fetal Positioning techniques which often make all the difference in the world to excellent birth positioning for baby and therefore an easier (non-surgical) birth.  
Other subjects covered in Hypnobabies which are all crucial to the efficacy of a positive birth preparation process are: 

• Comfort in Pregnancy 
• Detailed Birthing Choices 
• Creating Informed Consent 
• Avoidance of Toxic Substances 
• Turning a Posterior Baby 
• Stages of Labor 
• Anatomy and Physiology of Birth 
• Prenatal Parenting 
• Avoiding Back Labor with the Abdominal Lift and Tuck 
• Baby Kick Counting 
• Belly Mapping 
• Birth Empowerment Skills 
• Birth Plans & Baby Plans 
• Touring the Birth Facility 
• Doula and Midwifery information 
• Avoiding Induction and Cesarean Section 
• Delayed Cord Clamping and other Baby Kindness information 
• Using hypnosis for 3rd stage 
• Comprehensive and detailed birth preparation and labor support training for Birth Partners 
• A 28 page Quick Reference booklet for labor 

Everything listed above factors greatly into how our Hypnobabies families can have such beautiful, comfortable and empowering birth experiences, when our program is learned, practiced and used as directed.  
Hypnobabies is a *course*, not a series of audio tracks which can be chosen randomly, listened to randomly in any order for any length of time, and used randomly without the benefit of the additional information we provide.  

So that's the basics of what Hypnobabies is.

My experience with Hypnobabies has been great.  
During my second pregnancy, before starting the hypnobabies course, I was full of A LOT of anxiety over the upcoming birth.  I was working towards a VBAC and was struggling immensely with the disappointments of last time which lead to many, many fears for this time.  My husband can attest to tons of tears being shed.  I would average a huge emotional break down once a week, crying over all the what-ifs and doubts I had.  (I said, average --- there were weeks where it was really, really bad and I would have many more breakdowns that that.)
When I discussed purchasing the course with my husband, he agreed with me that even if the course did nothing but help me feel a bit more confident during my pregnancy it would be worth the price for us.
Pretty quickly after starting the course work, I began making it through longer and longer amounts of time without crying.
I didn't even realize how effectively the positive statements were taking root in my mind initially.  I just started to feel more calm and confident in general.
In about a month's time I was making it through entire weeks feeling so good I didn't even notice I was not crying anymore, because I wasn't even thinking about my stresses.

(I also attribute additional healing occurring at the same time, when I also started attending ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) meetings.  Which I highly recommend to anyone struggling with their cesarean experience, or just hoping to connect with women who've had c-sections.)  

I'm not gonna say that I never cried again after getting into the program --- I mean I was a pregnant woman, tears happen.  But wow I was so, so, so, so, so much more emotionally stable --- able to face this pregnancy head on and work towards my second daughter's birth.
Being able to get these positive thoughts into my mind during hypnosis was probably one of the only ways I would have been able to heal from my experiences.  Being able to directly access my subconscious mind was really critical in my case, because my analytical mind was unwilling to accept positive thoughts at that time, since it was only willing to process everything through my previous experience.  By bypassing that part of me for the time being, I was able to start believing good things about birth again deep down with in me, and eventually my analytical mind came into agreement as well.
Seriously, the peace and strength I got out of it just in this regard was worth more than the price of the kit to me.

In regards to my labor, I feel it made an amazing difference.
This was the first time I labored naturally, as last time I was induced.  So It may not be a fair comparison, but this labor with the use of hypnobabies was phenomenally more comfortable than my last labor without Hypnobabies.
I would say the biggest factor was that my state of mind was worlds apart for this birth, as compared to the last time.  I was in an amazing state of calm and peace this time.
I will be honest and say my labor was not pain free.  But the pain was never overwhelming.  I never once felt over taken by anything.  The sensations I had were all very tolerable.  They took focus and I needed to commit to remaining calm, but I was always able to do it.  And I felt surprised as how naturally and simply I was able to do it.
I never thought I was as far along in my labor as I actually was.  (When I was told I was fully dilated I was in shock, since I was so at ease I was sure I was not even at 5 cm.)
My labor went much quicker than anyone expected.  And I felt like the time passed by even more quickly than that.

I really feel that all the affirmations from the program taking root in my mind, and having the Hypnobabies techniques I learned through the program, gave me the ability to be in the state of mind that allowed me to completely let go and let my body do its work as effectively as possible.

Through my labor I did not completely adhere to the program.  I only listened to the tracks during the very beginning of my labor.  And then I enjoyed listening to music for the rest.  I also did not really use the light switch technique for a comfort measure.  (I didn't feel like I even needed to.)
Perhaps, if we have more babies, I will practice that technique more in the future, and maybe my next birth will be even more comfortable.
But as of this moment, I couldn't be happier with the outcome of my labor this time around.
You can read my birth story here if you are interested.

How was I able to complete the course work while full time mommying?  
Even though Hypnobabies is a comprehensive birthing course, it is not an overwhelming time commitment.
I actually found it much easier to incorporate into my life, as a mommy of a toddler, than going to a class (which would require me to get a baby sitter) because I could do it at home when I had the time.
I would read the workbooks during the day while my daughter would play.  (The reading doesn't take much time to do.  And you can spread it out through the week.)
And I would listen to the tracks (which are all about 30 mins long) during her nap time.  Which, conveniently, would lead into a great nap time for me as well.  (The tracks end by saying something to the effect of "and now if this is your normal nap time or bed time, just stay relaxed and have some wonderful sleep."  And I would be so relaxed I would take her up on it.  And wake up feeling great.)  If I was feeling like I needed an extra boost of confidence I would listen to some more before going to bed.  And there were the occasional extra emotionally stressful days when I asked asked my husband to watch my daughter and give me 30 mins to myself to get in a nice emotional reorientation.

As Far as The Cost of the program:
The kit's price was initially a deterrent to me.  At this point in our lives we had a lot of financial commitments, and I didn't want to waste any money on anything.
But I can say that for me, it was well worth the price.
And in comparison to the cost of some of the other class options out there, it is a great deal!

If you are thinking about using Hypnobabies yourself: 

You can check out more about them using their website.

And I find this associated site full of great answers to more questions you might have.

And here is a short essay by the founder of Hypnobabies on "Hypnosis for Childbirth, what it is and what it does."

***Should I take Hypnobabies if there's a good chance I'll be having a cesarean birth? 
Hypnobabies has recently developed a Cesearean Birth preparation program using hypnosis so that moms giving birth surgically can also do so calmly and joyfully.
*I haven't used or listened to this set, but as someone who has had a c-section, and someone who used the Hypnobabies standard course and VBAC tracks, my take after reading this course's description is that the Cesearean Birthing Set sounds like a phenomenal preparation tool!  I would not hesitate to purchase it.  It seems like something that could dramatically impact the way you view and experience your child's birth, in a outstandingly positive way.  I wish I could have listened to before my first daughter's birth.  (And honestly I was even tempted to listen later  for some retrospective healing in regards to my c-section disappointment.)  

As far as ordering the program: 
Currently as I write this blog post, the best price can be found by shopping off Hypnobabies'  Facebook page.  I'm not sure if this is still the case, but they were offering even more of a discount if you "like" their page when I ordered my set.
(Plus using the Facebook page to order, is easier to navigate than the official webpage.)
The Full Home Course with two mp3s of your choice is listed here.  (This one allows you to customize the course a bit more than the other bundle listed for the same price.)

When should you order? 
The course takes five weeks to learn, and it is recommended to have a few more weeks available afterwards to practice.  So the recommened time to start is at 7 months pregnant, or sooner.
Keep in mind that once you finish the course you will need to continue to maintain your hypnosis techniques through daily practice.  If you choose to take the course early in your pregnancy, realize that you still must commit to practicing every day until the baby comes.  Many women find that starting their Hypnobabies classes toward the beginning of their third trimester to be an ideal time, but you will know what works best for you.


  1. Thanks for your very detailed experience with the Hypnobabies course. I love that you really covered so many points. I am so glad that Hypnobabies helped you have such a positive VBAC!

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