The philosophy: Self-hypnosis is taught in several different kinds of classes. The best known is HypnoBirthing®, which teaches deep relaxation techniques. “The focus is on breathing, relaxation, visualization and deepening techniques to help a woman access her natural birthing instincts,” says Sara Shelley, a Washington DC–area childbirth educator and licensed hypnotherapist who has taught HypnoBirthing. Shelley now teaches the newer Blissborn technique, which is similar, though involves the husbands or partners in the experience—“a big advantage these days,” says Shelley, “as most dads want to play a more active role in all the phases of the birthing process.”
What to expect: You’ll learn optimal birth positions as well as breathing and visualization techniques that will bring you to a state of deep relaxation during labor and delivery.
What to look for: Look for an instructor who is certified in HypnoBirthing - The Mongan Method (named for the founder, Marie Mongan, MEd, MHy) or has other certification.
Watch out for: Promises of a birth that will not include any pain at all. “Beware of anyone who promises a pain-free delivery,” cautions Catherine Williams, a midwife who works for Home Birth Service in Los Angeles. “This sets women up, so that when it really hurts, they think they must be doing something wrong, that they failed somehow.”
Where to find out more: hypnobirthing.com and HypnoBirthing - The Mongan Method: The Breakthrough Approach to Safer, Easier, More Comfortable Birthing by Marie F. Mongan, MEd, MHy (Health Communications, Inc., 2005).