Hypnobabies is a pain-free childbirth course based on childbirth hypnosis techniques. I used an older version of Hypnobabies while I was preparing for Galen's birth (baby #4), but didn't really use it much once his birth took off (I did listen to one of the birth CD's very early in his birthing time).
I find the concept of Hypnobabies intriguing, and really enjoyed listening to the CD tracks during my pregnancy with Galen.
My hesitations about Hypnobabies revolved around a couple of things:
First, I don't like the “no other childbirth class” encouragement that's given (very strongly) in the course materials. That's not because I want to go out and take a class… actually, I think most childbirth classes are pretty useless. But it's because I want to work with the Pink Kit birth skills, which one could consider “childbirth preparation.”
A Fresh Look
Upon a fresh reading of the Hypnobabies introduction, however, I feel differently. I can see the reason why Hypnobabies wants to avoid “other classes.” It's because this method of childbirth focuses on easy, enjoyable birth that's free of pain. Most basic birth classes focus heavily on pain relief in the form of drugs. Even “natural childbirth” courses tend to dig into “natural pain relief methods”.
This is counter-productive to Hypnobabies mamas, who are conditioning themselves for an easy experience that's free from discomfort.
I also see that Hypnobabies recommends some books for further reading (at the end of Class #1). Looking at the book recommendations gives me the impression that Hypnobabies isn't opposed to other birth study… after all, reading books is part of birth “education.” Hypnobabies wants you to avoid being caught in a paradigm of pain relief.
I actually think one of the problems with modern birth, including the natural birth movement, is a strong focus on relieving pain rather than on working productively with your baby to get him or her born. The books recommended by Hypnobabies are about accepting birth and working with your body and your baby in an empowering way (for instance, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth).
Because this seems to be where Hypnobabies is coming from (remember, I'm just a mom in this and I'm not speaking “officially” for Hypnobabies), it seems like the Pink Kit skills compliment rather than work against Hypnobabies. I will use the Pink Kit again. I do think I'm going to make notes in the Pink Kit this time around, so I can make a note for fellow Hypnobabies mamas who may want to avoid any specific Pink Kit sections on “pain.”
But even though there are sections on pain, they tend to focus not on “lets get rid of this pain” but rather on “how can I work with my baby to bring my baby down.” Generally discomfort has a reason, and that reason is that we're not working particularly well with baby (or even are trying to escape from birthing sensations). So the Pink Kit gives you skills not to relieve pain, but to actually get your baby through your pelvis and born. The Pink Kit does say pain can be part of birth, so that can be a hangup there. But it's a matter-of-fact, “we need to focus on your body and your baby” collection of birth skills…
Hopefully that makes sense… Regardless, I think the Pink Kit skills on working with your body and your baby are invaluable to all birthing moms, even though using painless childbirth methods. You can use the techniques to open yourself to your baby's birthing while experiencing an easy, enjoyable birth, free of discomfort 🙂
The Pink Kit also doesn't teach rigid methods, such as only one breathing technique. Hypnobabies is also opposed to rigid methods. The Pink Kit focuses on teaching you why breath is important, and again, how to work with your body and baby, rather than one set technique or breathing pattern that's supposed to work for everyone.
The Other Issue
The other issue with Hypnobabies was that it felt like the course was implying that feeling discomfort during birth was somehow a failure on the mother's part…
I live, breathe, eat, and sleep birth and baby topics, so things I think and feel are sometimes not what a mom who isn't up to her ears in childbirth feels. I see a lot of “natural birth” advocates who insist that a woman's body is totally made for birth, and if we just removed modern society from the picture, she'd have no problems squatting, squirting out the kid, and getting back to the rice paddy (painlessly).
I have a problem with this. I do feel the woman's body was meant to give birth, but I also feel that many women shared skills: I squatted and my baby slipped out. I danced in this way during pregnancy and my baby was born so easily. I ate this healthy food and I have a strong child!
Don't you think words of wisdom like this were shared?
I'm sure there were also mamas who had a tougher time of it initially, and learned from that experience. I don't like minimizing either shared wisdom, or improvement by experience when it comes to birthing. I think a mother's birth experience is valid, even if it's not an out-of-this-world, easy, discomfort-free experience.
Of course, I think many cultures ignored birth, and women went in unskilled and with fear. It wasn't an easy experience for them. It's silly to always imply that things were better in the past, before “men/doctors/hospitals” messed things up… we continue to grow and develop our consciousness and previous generations of women were not all-knowing OR all-trusting. We should take advantage of new resources like birth hypnosis and documented birth skills, even knowledge of how we open physiologically for our babies!
But again, I'm seeing this from a huge perspective of a birth teacher and advocate… I'm not coming at this simply as a Hypnobabies mama.
I think what Hypnobabies is trying to say is not that experiences that involve discomfort are invalid, or somehow less “successful” than a discomfort-free birth. I think it's more that “we're going to shift your mindset and train you how to enjoy birthing while working productively with your baby.”
I think that's cool.
So I'm giving Hypnobabies an open-minded go, and I'm not going to be watching any television shows about births… and I'll avoid the “pain relief” threads on my Due Date Club boards. I will go through the Pink Kit, but with the mindset that these skills will simply aid me in my easy, enjoyable, comfortable birthing time.
Hypnobabies also teaches a lot of practical information on having a great birthing (skills, tools, etc.) so I'll go over those during my “walk-through” across the next few weeks!!
Here's my initial Hypnobabies Review – I will revise this after our “Riceball” is born 🙂
Note that I receive a small affiliate commission if you order Hypnobabies through my affiliate link – thank you for your support! 🙂