Is Hypnobirthing Better Than Drugs During Labor?

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hypnobirthing bookBeautiful though she may be, Jessica Alba isn't exactly the celebrity mama I'd look to for pregnancy advice. That being said, she's a big advocate of hypnobirthing, having employed the self-soothing, relaxation techniques when she gave birth to her first daughter a couple of years ago. As she explains, it "just makes you chill" during labor and delivery

Many are fans of hypnobirthing because it's said that the practice makes you less likely to have a c-section, less likely to use an epidural, and more likely to give birth in your own home. Well, that sounds good! But what exactly is it?

When you think about hypnosis, you may imagine some guy in a cape with a swinging pocket watch, lulling you to sleep, and later urging you to cluck like a chicken. Yeah, this is different. You're not giving birth in a trance, you're not subconsciously convincing yourself that labor feels freakin' awesome. Instead, you're using relaxation techniques to take fear and anxiety out of the birthing process, approaching delivery from a more peaceful place. As a result, your body produces more endorphins and less stress hormones, so you're better able to focus on what your body is doing and you'll feel less pain.

From what I've heard, this stuff really works. In fact, a doula shared with me that while assisting during a hypnobirth, the woman didn't scream once. With every contraction, she gave a little sigh, and then when the baby did come out, Mama just gave a bigger, deeper, longer sigh. Okay, so maybe that lady was a superhuman freak of nature, but I have heard women say that it significantly calmed them down during delivery and eased the pain, so what could be wrong with that?

Personally, I think all of that meditation and deep-breathing and mind-over-matter stuff really does work, and believe it can absolutely be a tool during childbirth. For women who are planning on doing natural childbirth, drug-free (whether at home, in a birthing center, or at the hospital), it seems like hypnobirthing would be essential for minimizing pain, reducing stress, and creating that calm, peaceful environment you want your child born into.

And even if you are going the clinical route, this kind of relaxation can be beneficial. When it comes to holistic or spiritual techniques, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Yes, I'm giving birth in a hospital, I'm going to have an epidural (without one ounce of shame about it, thank you), and I may likely have a c-section if that is what is best for my twin boys. If I do end up pumped full of drugs while my babies are surgically removed from my belly, then damn straight, I'd like to feel calm and peaceful about it!

So thanks for the tip, Jess! I think a hypnobirthing book or DVD might be the best thing to help me prepare for and ultimately enjoy the birth of my babies, regardless of how they enter the world.

Did you use hypnobirthing during your labor and delivery, or do you plan to?


Image via HypnoBirthing

homebirth, c-sections, labor & delivery, pain management

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mumma... mummajenni

I used this method with my son's birth last summer. It was very helpful in keeping me calm, focused and relaxed. And I think it helped with pain (I don't have another experience to compare it to...) I did not have an easy l&d, some complications, so I would say for sure it helped me stay calm when things weren't going great, and when they got scary. I did deliver at a hospital, and did not end up with a C/S. For me, it was another tool that helped me, and I would definitely recommend looking into it to expecting moms. I read the book, used 2 different cd's and also took a private class, which was not that great, but that was primarily due to the instructor, not the method. The deep breathing, relaxation techniques, I still use them, and will practice again if I have another child.

Lynette Lynette

With my 1st I planned to go all natural and then the pain hit & no way was the Lamaze I took going to help, I got an EPI.  Still it wore off while I was pushing anf OMG!  With my 2nd I went straight for the EPI.  But when I got to my 3rd I was still dreaming of a natural birth.  So I looked into hypnobirthing & hypnobabies.  I decided to go w/ hypnobabies.  They are similar but hypnobabies has more CD's.  It was AMAZING!  I was so calm, never wanted for pain meds.  I never yelled.  I grunted with my last push.  No tearing!  It really does work.  I remember laying there wondering what transition would be like.  And then started feeling a lot of pressure.  The midwife checked me and I was at 10cm.  I wouldn't do birth without it, I tell everyone I can about it.  I did the home study course, it was a lot cheaper than taking the classes.  Google "hypnobabies" to read up more on it.

Kim AndDoug Kiesewetter

I'm doing the Hypnobabies Home Study Course in preparation for a home birth... I haven't delivered yet, but I can attest to it making me a less neurotic preggo woman! Additionally, Hypnobabies offers a separate CD(s?) specifically for people who are having a CSection so mamas who are going that route, for whatever reason, can also practice relaxation/self-hypnosis

Sharon Mataruski Gourlay

I am actually a HypnoBirthing Practitioner in Central Ohio.  I have supported and empowered many mothers over the past 6 years.  It does work and does help with physiological birth.  I offer scholarship spots in my class all the time so everyone can benefit from in person instruction vs. distance learning offered by other programs.  If you want to do HypnoBirthing speak with an instructor because we are all flexible and will normally work within your budget constraints.  I am also a trained Hypnotherapist so I can offer more assistance to families in need.  Speaking to an instructor is always beneficial.  We can help you with your specific needs.

jalaz77 jalaz77

I still feel having the right team to coach you through L&D is the best way, drugs or no drugs.

jpfsmom jpfsmom

I had two friends that did this, one with great success (she didn't even feel the contractions) and the other not quite as expected but it did take the edge off and she felt calmer.

hutch... hutchfam2007

Very interesting... with my first I never thought I would want a natural birth, I took the epi as soon as I could get  it because of the pain. It was wonderful!!!! BUT, I'm kinda interested to see if I COULD do it without an epi. My last labor was 20hrs and I am interested in making the process faster next time around... 20 hrs in hospital with NO food= not happy mama! When the time comes I will have to look into this and try it, I will still stay flexible in my plan and if I feel I need an epi I will not feel guilty about getting one. Sounds like even if you DO get one, it would still help you stay calm though the process.

jagam... jagamama0710

I used Hypnobabies with both of my births and it was wonderful!!! I would absolutely recommend it to everyone. I did yell/grunt pretty loudly while pushing but that's just me. The rest of the labor I just moan and sigh through contractions. It worked even better the second time around. The first time I was still a bit unsure of it since I'd never gone through it before, but it did help me get my natural birth pretty painlessly for the most part!


The second time around though, I knew what it could do and I trusted in it completely with no doubts. I labored at home on a birthing ball, coloring and playing with my 2 year old and husband, and then in my shower when I needed to focus a bit more. That's when I turned on my birthing tracks. I stayed there for awhile when I recognized all the signs telling me I was in transition (hiccups, chills, a bit of nausea, starting to think I couldn't do it) so we left for the hospital. I was almost complete when they checked me and my son was born 30 minutes after walking through the doors. Total time from the onset of active labor was 7 hours although I had gotten to 5 cm over the course of 2 days before active labor started with occasional contractions that were 100% painless! Hypnosis can help you relax enough that your labor goes quickly and smoothly! It's amazing!

Debbie Rogers Hale

I think it depends on the person and the labor. I had 3 kids in the 80's all with lamaze and all with no meds. Was there pain, yes but it's all about focusing. I would try the hypno thing what do you have to lose. 

brwne... brwneyeddaisy1

Our bodies are designed to do this, with no drugs. It's definitely not easy, but with focused breathing, it's completely do-able. Whatever you can use to help with that, be it Lamaze, Hypnosis, or just an amazing coach, is cool with me. 

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