by Karen Rothstein, Certified HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator
Giving birth is one of a woman's most transformative and empowering experiences. But for many, anxiety, fear, and uncertainty about labor and delivery can cast a shadow on what should be a beautiful event. The stories of women who have endured traumatic birthing experiences flood the internet. What should be a beautiful rite of passage for women has been hijacked by hospital protocols that marginalize women.
Hospitals, being primary centers for childbirth, naturally offer birthing education classes. However, a growing concern among some is that these classes might be more geared toward preparing mothers to become compliant patients rather than empowering them with comprehensive knowledge about childbirth.
This is where HypnoBirthing can help. HypnoBirthing techniques use self-hypnosis, breathing, visualization, and education to help women feel calm, confident, and in control during childbirth. The Mongan Method, created by Marie Mongan, is considered the gold standard HypnoBirthing program practiced worldwide. This article will provide an in-depth overview of the Mongan Method and explain how practicing HypnoBirthing can lead to a more comfortable, relaxed birthing experience. If you want to approach birth with joy rather than dread, these techniques may help you transform fear into power.
Overview of HypnoBirthing, the Mongan Method
The Mongan Method was the first formal HypnoBirthing program introduced in the late 1980s. It has gone on to be taught in over 30 countries by over 1,200 certified educators. Marie Mongan pioneered the method after she explored self-hypnosis during her pregnancy and found it helped her remain calm during childbirth. I heard Micky, whom we affectionately called Marie, speak at the National Guild of Hypnotists in the early 90s and knew I needed to provide this opportunity to the women of the greater Sacramento Area.
For over 20 years, Sacramento HypnoBirthing has provided quality education and self-hypnosis training to nearly 900 couples in Placer, Yolo, Sacramento, and El Dorado counties. While there are other HypnoBirthing programs, we are the only program locally that has earned the Gold Seal from the HypnoBirthing Institute for our quality of training and professionalism.
Drawing from my background as an educator, I quickly identified the strengths of the HypnoBirthing curriculum. Mickey, who has roots in education, crafted The Mongan Method around six pivotal components. These essential elements prepare expectant mothers and their partners to welcome their babies with serenity and strength:
Education - Knowledge is power when it comes to birthing. Understanding the body's reactions during labor can alleviate fears often fueled by the alarming horror stories we hear or see depicted by the media about birthing. Gaining accurate insights into the physiological processes of childbirth fosters confidence and trust in the body's innate ability to deliver naturally. Attending classes equips you with comprehensive knowledge about each stage of labor, ensuring you know what to anticipate and comprehend what the body undergoes during each phase.
Relaxation – We teach deep relaxation techniques because they are vital to creating self-hypnosis. This helps birthing persons to enter the healing room where the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, muscles relax, blood pressure lowers, and feel-good hormones flow. Relaxation allows the muscles to work efficiently as nature intended. Many birthing persons are filled with tension and anxiety. This is when the sympathetic nervous system is on high alert, which inhibits the smooth muscle contractions needed for labor.
Visualization - Envisioning a seamless and positive birthing experience conditions the subconscious mind to manifest that reality. Visualization can replace any lingering fears or unsettling images about childbirth stored in the subconscious by creating new neuro pathways in the brain. By vividly imagining the baby's descent, the cervix dilating, and the muscles functioning at their best, you set the stage for a successful birth. Athletes often use visualization as mental preparation to excel in their sports. Similarly, it can be just as impactful for childbirth, which is undeniably akin to an intense athletic feat.
Deepening – When properly done and repeatedly practiced, self-hypnosis methods take women into an intensely focused, relaxed state. This prevents them from spiraling into panic during intense uterine sensations. It also allows them to turn inward and tap into inner power. Repeated practice of deep hypnosis techniques builds mind-body connection and confidence that the mind can power the body through birthing.
Affirmations – We all know that positive messages and mantras counter negative thinking and build confidence. Repeating affirmations like "I trust my body" and "I breathe my baby out calmly" programs the mind for a peaceful birth. Affirmations are a powerful tool to overwrite fear and self-doubt by empowering new beliefs.
Breathing – HypnoBirthing teaches three uniquely calming breathing techniques. Proper breathing techniques ensure oxygen flows freely to the muscles allowing them to work optimally. Using the breath effectively also helps maintain relaxation during surges. Breath is incredibly powerful for inducing calmness, lowering blood pressure, and saving energy. Different breathing patterns are taught for each stage of labor.
Why Each Component Is Essential
Without education, women fear the unknown. Knowledge opens the mind to new possibilities and empowers women to make informed choices. Relaxation is crucial to birthing effectively and avoiding the fight or flight stress response. Visualization provides a positive mental blueprint to focus on during challenging moments. Self-hypnosis techniques deepen relaxation and inner awareness, preventing distraction or panic. Affirmations keep thoughts buoyant and optimism high. And finally, breathing powers the body optimally while inducing tranquility. Each piece is vital in facilitating an easier, more joyful birth.
Benefits of HypnoBirthing
There are many reasons why taking a HypnoBirthing class can be one of the best preparations for birth. The techniques have been shown to provide the following benefits:
Reduces Fear and Anxiety
Many pregnant women experience anxiety about labor pain, medical procedures, emergencies, and the unpredictability of birth. HypnoBirthing helps release these fears by providing comprehensive education about how the birthing process works. It emphasizes how fear and tension create pain while relaxation allows feel-good endorphins to flow freely, creating natural comfort. Reframing labor sensations as pressure rather than pain also eases anxiety. Self-hypnosis and visualization further program the mind and body to welcome each surge calmly and with confidence that all is going perfectly.
Multiple studies have shown HypnoBirthing is associated with shorter first-stage labors on average. When fully relaxed, the muscles can do their job, and rhythmic contractions can progress efficiently rather than stalling out from maternal distress. Optimal oxygen flow from proper breathing gives the uterus and muscles the necessary resources. Being fully present and inwardly focused prevents energy waste and stops labor from going off track. This allows labor to unfold smoothly and swiftly.
Fewer Medical Interventions
Because HypnoBirthing helps women trust their body's innate ability to give birth naturally, so they often feel empowered to avoid unnecessary medical interventions. The cascades of interventions such as Pitocin augmentation, epidurals, episiotomies, and cesarean sections are much rarer when the mom is relaxed and confident. Patience and support replace urgency and panic, allowing time for labor to unfold at the pace nature intended.
Staying Present and Alert
The deep self-hypnosis and mindful presence techniques used in HypnoBirthing allow women to move inward rather than spiral outward into a panic during intense sensations. Remaining fully aware and in the moment provides a sense of personal agency and control rather than feeling disconnected or distressed. This helps make birth a consciously lived experience rather than something done passively to the woman. The inner awareness and calm focus energy internally allow endorphins to flow optimally.
Tools for Birth Partners
HypnoBirthing gives partners the knowledge and tools to take on an active, supportive role rather than feel helpless on the sidelines. Partners learn massage techniques to soothe discomfort, prompts to keep the mother's hypnosis and breathing on track, and instruction on the best ways to advocate for the mom's wishes with medical staff. This engages partners in the experience, reduces anxiety, and builds connection. Knowing they have an essential job focuses their energy positively.
Bonding and Breastfeeding Benefits
Because HypnoBirthing facilitates a calm, grounded state during birth, babies often transition more peacefully into the world. Soothing vagal stimulation from the mother transfers to the newborn, allowing more alertness and easier bonding and breastfeeding post-birth. HypnoBirthing babies are less likely to need resuscitation measures that can impede immediate skin-to-skin contact and nursing success. Calm births supported by HypnoBirthing principles set the stage for optimal newborn transition and family bonding.
For women seeking empowerment during childbirth, HypnoBirthing techniques offer a way to approach labor calmly and confidently. The Mongan Method provides expectant mothers and partners with the knowledge, tools, and mindset to facilitate a smooth, natural birth. The combination of education, relaxation, visualization, self-hypnosis, affirmations, and proper breathing is transformative, allowing women to access their inner power.
While HypnoBirthing does require dedication and practice, especially the self-hypnosis techniques, research confirms the benefits of easier and safer birthing. With the proper guidance and motivation, any woman can learn to trust her body, quiet fears, and welcome her baby with joyful serenity. Birth is not something to be feared but instead embraced and celebrated. HypnoBirthing helps restore birth to its rightful place - as an innately beautiful experience to be cherished for a lifetime.
HypnoBirthing may be one of the best decisions you can make if you want to birth your baby peacefully and confidently. Follow this link to sign up for a free consultation to see if this is a beneficial method for you.