Preparing to have a baby using hypnobirthing has become such a popular option that it’s becoming quite a jungle of different hypnobirthing “products” out there. So here’s a quick potted guide for mums-to-be who are finding all the different brand names and methods confusing.
Firstly, though, if you are thinking of doing hypnobirthing, please bear the following in mind.
- Be safe. Don’t invite a stranger into your home (not even me!) until you are quite sure she is genuine. I am amazed at how many people happily let me in or come to my home without checking me out first. Or maybe they do check me out first? Or maybe I just look trustworthy?
- Do not assume that cheaper means better – experience really does count in this business and more experienced practitioners know what they are worth.
- If you are going to a less experienced hypnobirthing practitioner, or a practitioner who is mainly a hypnotherapist as opposed to a childbirth professional, find out what her hands-on experience with childbirth is. Ideally she should have supported at least one woman in labour; if she is or has been also a doula or a midwife, all the better. Just my judgement here – others may disagree.
- Think about whether you want to be with other couples, or on your own. With other couples, you can form your own little support network; on your own, you may find it easier to go into hypnosis during the sessions, which could be more beneficial. The choice is yours.
- When choosing between a multi-session course and a one-day workshop format, give some thought to how effectively you take in information in different situations.
- However skilful your hypnobirthing practitioner, she or he cannot change your physiology. Nor can they make you feel positive and confident about childbirth if you are not prepared to do daily practice. My clients find themselves doing about an hour a day of relaxation, affirmations and other bits and bobs – quite a big ask! Some feel that working with CDs alone is less effective because of the reduced motivation to practice and “study”.
- Beware of practitioners promising pain-free labour or who make you feel that if you don’t have a “perfect birth” then it’s somehow your fault for “not doing hypnobirthing properly”. Whatever your birth outcome, your hypnobirthing will have helped, somehow.
HypnoBirthing – the Mongan Method. (HypnoBirthing with an upper case B)
This is a five session, 12.5 hour course devised approximately twenty years ago by a US hypnotherapist, Marie Mongan. Associated with a book, HypnoBirthing, which is available on Amazon. To be accredited by Mongan, practitioners have to promise to stick to the five session format and syllabus fairly rigidly. The format has not changed much in twenty years and is targeted at mothers in the USA. For this reason some practitioners in Europe branch out with their own formats. The Mongan course is also accompanied by CDs, principally the “Rainbow Relaxation”.
Hypnobirthing (no upper case B!)
Legal battles – yes, even hypnobirthing practitioners sometimes have tiffs – have established that the word “hypnobirthing” is not the property of Mongan or her HypnoBirthing Institute, and in recent years the Hypnobirthing Association has grown apace under the leadership of Katharine Graves as a network of UK practitioners. Graves’ book, The Hypnobirthing Book, is targeted primarily at mothers in the UK and is also accompanied by a range of CDs recorded by Graves. Graves teaches her own Method to practitioners but practitioners which belong to the Hypnobirthing Association teach in a flexible range of formats – weekly sessions, weekend intensive courses, short taster courses etc – and attend regular update days and study days.
Marrying up mindfulness with hypnobirthing techniques, this course is a one-day workshop offered at a small number of venues in the UK, Belgium and Australia. It is based on a book by Sophie Fletcher, a top UK hypnobirthing practitioner.
Maggie Howell added face-to-face courses to her wide range of hypotherapy for childbirth CDs several years ago. Some practitioners have hinted to me that the training is more thorough than the Mongan training but on the other hand there are far fewer courses available. The CDs are excellent and available through a number of outlets such as the NCT online shop.
All these courses should include hypnotherapy sessions as part of the course; and all practitioners should be aware of basic safety procedures around hypnotherapy sessions.
Another American product – available as a home study course.
Also targeted at UK parents, this is a new course created by Tamara Cianfini and Dany Griffiths, two UK hypnobirthing teachers. Taught by licensed teachers in 4 2.5 hour sessions preferably spaced out rather than as an intensive course. A range of downloadable MP3s and a parents’ handbook form part of the course as does a set of excellent birth films.