Hypnobirthing: The Breakthrough to Safer, Easier, More Comfortable Childbirth

HypnoBirthing helps women to become empowered by developing an awareness of the instinctive birthing capability of their bodies.

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Karsen: From the Parents Club, I’m Karsen Kolnicki. This is your briefing.


Karsen: Today, we’re discussing HypnoBirthing: The Breakthrough to Safer, Easier, More Comfortable Childbirth. Written by Marie Mongan.

In this title, the author helps women become empowered by developing an awareness of the instinctive birthing capabilities of their bodies. Hypnobirthing greatly reduces the pain of labor and childbirth, frequently reduces the need for drugs, and reduces the need for doctor-controlled birth interventions.

Karsen: Vincent Phamvan on the key takeaways [pause] and what you need to know.


Karsen: Vincent, what is the author’s main message from this book?

Vincent: After years of research, Marie Mongan developed HypnoBirthing, which is a new philosophy and approach to childbirth. Her key message is that childbirth should be a cause for joy, not trauma.

She says that the cornerstone of the approach is that the mother’s body and the unborn baby she carries already know how to give birth. As long as the woman is healthy and the pregnancy is without complication, then it’s not necessary for medical staff to interfere with her labor.

Karsen: Humans have been giving birth for thousands of years before hospitals existed.

Vincent: Right, that’s why the author says that expectant mothers don’t need to be told to push, and she doesn’t need drugs or help from medical instruments to bring her baby into the world.

HypnoBirthing believes that childbirth is a natural human experience and that each unnecessary medical procedure and interruption risks undermining this natural process. The author argues that to avoid this, each birth should happen according to the mother and baby’s own pace. This birthing process may slow down or speed up.

Karsen: And that’s natural and should be okay?

Vincent: The author says if there are no complications, then those outside of the birth shouldn’t try to manage the timeframe of the birth.

Karsen: Many women are fearful of the childbirth process, what type of impact does that have on childbirth?

Vincent: Mongan says that fear actually makes childbirth more painful and more dangerous. In order for labor to progress, the author says, that the muscles surrounding the expectant mother’s uterus, which is known as the cervix, need to relax and become thinner.

When this happens, the cervix can open enough for the baby to pass out of the uterus and into the birth canal.

Karsen: So if you’re feeling scared during labor, this natural process can get thrown off track?

Vincent: That’s right, the author says that fear causes your body to start releasing large amounts of a stress hormone called catecholamine, which triggers the fight or flight response. So instead of focusing on your uterus, your body instead prepares itself for an oncoming threat.

Blood is diverted away from the uterus at a time when the uterus muscles should be working hard. This restricted blood flow can actually cause the muscles surrounding the cervix to become tight, causing the cervix to close.

Karsen: And when that happens, the baby can’t descend into the birth canal.

Vincent: Right, that’s when things can become dangerous for the baby and a laboring mother.

Karsen: So how can self-hypnosis help women reduce fear and pain during childbirth?

Vincent: Self-hypnosis is just about suggesting thoughts and ideas to yourself, which influences how your body responds.

In the context of childbirth, self-hypnosis means flipping the script on your preconceptions about labor.

Karsen: Is the goal to let go of your thoughts of fear, pain, disaster?

Vincent: That’s exactly right. And you want to embrace positive ideas, thoughts, and images instead. The main thing here is that your mind has the power to give you a better birth.

For every thought and emotion that you have, there’s a physiological response that also takes place in your body. So if you are scared, or you have negative thoughts, your body will react with a defense response. The muscles in a laboring mother’s cervix will react by becoming tense and closed.

However, if your thoughts are of a successful, pain-free birth, your body will create endorphins. These are natural chemicals that fight pain and foster a sense of well-being.

Karsen: How else can laboring mothers use their minds to give themselves a better birth experience?

Vincent: Another way to give a natural, gentle birth that the author talks about is by harnessing the law of repetition. The law basically states that the more you express a particular thought, the more deeply ingrained the thought becomes. So your mind and body eventually view the thought as a reality.

Karsen: So you want to start thinking about and visualizing a joyful, stress-free birth months before you have your baby.

Vincent: That’s right. This will help put the law of repetition into play by giving time to routinely think about your stress-free birth experience.

Another method the author discusses is the law of attraction, which says that what you put out into the world comes back to you. So if your goal is to avoid a medicated birth, then you should avoid medical language.

Karsen: What’s an example of this?

Vincent: One example the author gives is you could say “pressure” instead of “pain” or talking about “special circumstances” instead of “complications.”

The author also suggests that relaxation plays an important role in teaching your body to perform optimally during labor.

Karsen: How can expectant mothers make time during pregnancy to practice relaxation?

Vincent: In the months leading up to the birth, Mongan suggests that pregnant women undertake relaxation exercises that will help them enter a calm state of mind quickly.

Then later when they’re birthing their baby, they’ll be able to call upon this relaxation training to dispel any fear or tension they may have.

Karsen: Is there a specific technique that should be used?

Vincent: Well, one useful technique is called progressive relaxation. You can start by finding a quiet, comfortable place to sit, where you won’t be disturbed. Then you can give a number to each section of your body.

So for example, your head and neck are five. Your chest can be four. Your stomach is three.  Your thighs as two. And your legs and feet are one.

As you count out each number, that corresponding body part should become limp and relaxed. The faster you count, the faster you relax.

If you practice this, then during birth, you’ll be able to hypnotize your body into a relaxed state by counting down from five.

Karsen: That sounds easy enough. Any other helpful tips?

Vincent: The other method is called anchoring, which requires the help of a partner. So when mom is already feeling relaxed, the partner can push down gently on the laboring mother’s shoulders with his or her hands.

This will create a link between this gesture and feeling relaxed. As the partner presses down, he or she will ask you to relax twice as much. With repetition, the laboring mother will instantly feel twice as relaxed when their partner touches them in this way.

Karsen: You mentioned that the author believes that telling mothers to push is unnecessary. Why is that?

Vincent: Yes, the author says that unborn babies need a nudge, not a push. In the past, doctors would routinely use anesthesia while giving birth and pulled babies out with forceps. This practice mostly stopped during the twentieth century, but doctors still encourage mothers to push today.

Karsen: This is definitely reinforced by TV and movies where you see a mother pushing so hard that the blood vessels on their face start to bulge and discolor.

Vincent: Yea, this violent pushing, the author says, is not only stressful and uncomfortable but can also be counterproductive. That’s because the stress of pushing causes the muscles of the vagina to close, which can actually block the path of the descending baby. Strenuous pushing can also cause permanent damage to the woman’s pelvic floor muscles.

Karsen: Isn’t it true that women who have had epidurals cannot push?

Vincent: Yes, that’s right. And women who have had epidurals can still have perfectly normal births without pushing. Even women in comas have been able to give birth without medical intervention… and without pushing. The author argues that a woman’s body knows what to do, so there’s a natural expulsion reflex that happens during birth that gently moves your baby out of the uterus, down the birth path, and out through the laboring mother’s vagina.

Karsen: So the HypnoBirthing approach replaces pushing with Birth Breathing. What does the author say about that?

Vincent: She says that Birth Breathing involves drawing in short breaths through your nose and directing the energy of that breathing toward the back of your throat, then down through your body. Afterward, you exhale a long breath through your nose and repeat.

Karsen: So this doesn’t push the baby, it just gives it a nudge in the right direction.

Vincent: That’s right. HypnoBirthing gives laboring mothers the opportunity to have a more joyful, less stressful labor.

Karsen: Different parts of labor will feel harder than others. So how can deep relaxation support mothers during the most challenging moments of labor?

Vincent: That’s a great question. There are a few techniques that work well for ultra-deepening relaxation. One of them is known as glove relaxation, which can be practiced with a partner.

First, the mother will sit comfortably, putting herself into a state of relaxation using the exercises we talked about previously. Once she is relaxed, she’ll imagine slipping a silver glove on her right hand. The glove is made of natural endorphins.

Then her partner should start stroking her right hand lightly. As her partner does this, she should suggest to herself that the endorphins glove is making her hand go numb, like the feeling of holding it in ice water. After a while, she shouldn’t feel the sensation in her hand anymore.

Now, she can visualize herself putting this hand on other parts of her body, such as her pelvis, and transferring the numbness to wherever the hand is resting.

Karsen: So when she is in childbirth and approaching the part where she needs to start Birth Breathing, the partner can begin stroking her hand lightly.

Vincent: Yes, then, she can visualize her endorphin glove and provide herself with relief from the pressure and discomfort of the final stages of labor.

Karsen: Are there any other ultra-deepening techniques for labor?

Vincent: Another one that Mongan mentions is time distortion. This is helpful for the final stages of childbirth. First, the laboring mother brings herself to a relaxed state. Then, she says to herself that every 20 minutes will now seem like 5 minutes.

Karsen: So you just keep giving yourself this suggestion?

Vincent: Yes, and your birth partner should also instruct you that every 20 minutes will now feel like 5 minutes. When you repeat this, the time distortion will become a reality.

Karsen: What else should mom or dad expect during labor?

Vincent: There’s a lot of hallmarks of labor to become familiar with, which will help ensure that you and your partner don’t feel shocked or surprised when certain sensations arise during the process.

Karsen: So it’s normal to experience strange sensations and feelings during labor?

Vincent: Yes, Mongan says that a laboring mother’s body is shifting things downward, so it’s not unusual to burp, hiccup, or vomit as the uterus starts to contract.

Karsen: What about water births?

Vincent: The author says that they’re pretty popular. Water birthing and HypnoBirthing can be a powerful combination because the warm water deepens your relaxation and gives mothers a sense of weightlessness during labor. Many women report that the water makes their muscles feel softer and gives them a sense of pleasure and well-being.

Karsen: And this also gives the baby a smooth transition from the water in the womb to the water of the outside world.

Vincent: That’s another perk.

Karsen: It sounds like the key takeaway from this book is that for hundreds of years, expectant mothers have been drugged and damaged by medical professionals who have prevented them from giving birth naturally. But by trusting their bodies and their unborn babies, expectant mothers can take control of their labor to have a healthy, natural birth. All they have to do is create a strong relationship between their mind and body. By using the HypnoBirthing techniques, mothers can enter the delivery room feeling strong, relaxed, and in control.


Karsen: That’s it for your briefing. I’m Karsen Kolnicki. See you next time.


HypnoBirthing has gained momentum around the globe as a positive and empowering method of childbirth. In fact, more than 25,000 books were sold in 2014 through the author’s website alone, and according to Nielsen BookScan, over 70,000 were sold through reporting retailers since its publication in 2005.

Here’s why: HypnoBirthing helps women to become empowered by developing an awareness of the instinctive birthing capability of their bodies. It greatly reduces the pain of labor and childbirth; frequently eliminates the need for drugs; reduces the need for caesarian surgery or other doctor-controlled birth interventions; and it also shortens birthing and recovery time, allowing for better and earlier bonding with the baby, which has been proven to be vital to the mother-child bond. What’s more, parents report that their infants sleep better and feed more easily when they haven’t experienced birth trauma.

HypnoBirthing founder Marie Mongan knows from her own four births that it is not necessary for childbirth to be a terribly painful experience. In this book, she shows women how the Mongan Method works and how parents they can take control of the greatest and most important event of their lives.

So, why is birth such a traumatic event for so many women? And why do more than 40% of births now end in caesarian section, the highest percentage in history? The answer is simple: because our culture teaches women to fear birth as a painful and unsettling experience. Fear causes three physical reactions in the body—tightening of the muscles, reduced blood flow to the birthing muscles, and the release of certain hormones—which increase the pain and discomfort of childbirth. This is not hocus-pocus; this is science.

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