Childbirth spotlight: Hypnobabies

Have you ever heard of Hypnobabies? Does the phrase leave you curious? Cautious? Skeptical? Bemused?

Hypnobabies is not a way to put infants in a trance.

Hypnobabies is a complete six-week childbirth education course, which includes instruction in “eyes-open childbirth hypnosis” as a form of pain and intensity management.

It’s a program designed to prepare the entire family, including giving the birthing partner an extensive box of tools to help the birthing individual achieve a blissful birth.

The education and empowerment piece of the program, which is based in California and includes a 7,000-member Facebook group, is as important, if not more so, than the hypnosis (which we’ll get to in a bit).

Anne Ferguson, a Twin Cities doula and Hypnobabies instructor, said the course covers all the elements of a traditional childbirth education.

“Hypnobabies is everything I would put in a childbirth education class if I were to design my own,” Ferguson said. “But — luckily — I don’t have to. It already exists.”

Topics include nutrition and exercise; stages of birthing; pushing positions; breech and posterior babies; risks, benefits and alternatives for interventions; chiropractic care; postpartum planning; breastfeeding; relationships; and more.

The founder of Hypnobabies, Kerry Tuschhoff, was a Bradley Method instructor for about 10 years before eventually moving to hypnosis-based birth courses.

Ferguson said once a student chooses Hypnobabies, they shouldn’t also take another childbirth prep class such as Bradley or Lamaze.

“Though these courses are great on their own, they might present beliefs about birth that conflict with the Hypnobabies philosophy,” Ferguson said. “That can be confusing and counterproductive ... and unnecessary because Hypnobabies covers everything.”

The hypnosis piece

Hypnobabies students receive powerful tools — which they practice using while pregnant — designed to induce a somnambulistic state of hypnosis, or “eyes open hypnosis.”

This means the birthing individual
is relaxed in both body and mind, but is able to walk, talk and change positions. This is achieved through the Hypnobabies workbook, scripts, visualizations, tapes and music that
the partner also becomes very familiar with through practice.

Examples of everyday hypnotic states can include things like driving a car, riding in an elevator, daydreaming or zoning out during screen time.

Summoning that relaxation during birth takes training. But the results can be astounding: With repetitive, positive messaging, Hypnobabies students find that normal birthing sensa- tions can be transformed into pleasurable — not painful — ones.

Stats from Hypnobabies.com:

  • 70-75% of hypno-moms had very comfortable births, reporting that they felt mostly pressure, tightening and mild cramping.
  • 15% felt comfortable, experiencing only pressure, until transition. At that point, they experienced mild to intense sensations, which were manageable.
  • 10% were comfortable until active labor — most of these cases involved a birth complication, emotional issues or parents who did not do their Hypnobabies homework. 

It’s expected that the couple do 45 minutes of “home play” per day during pregnancy to become Hypnobabies ready.

“Hypnobabies is very in-depth and involves a lot of work, which we actually call ‘home play’ — because it’s so fun,” Ferguson said.

A different focus

At the very least, the type of hypnosis taught in Hypnobabies provides a focus during labor and positive affirmations of birth as a natural, wonderful event. It can be done at home or in a hospital or birthing center.

An expectant parent chooses when to enter hypnosis, how long to stay in that state and when to come out. She is not asleep. She is conscious. She is in control. Nobody is going to make her cluck like a chicken or do the Hokey Pokey whenever a bell rings.

Hypnobabies is more akin to deep meditation. But like deep mediation, it takes work.

“What you get from Hypnobabies depends on what you put in, so embrace the course fully and get ready to see how much better it can make your birth,” Ferguson said.

Interested?

Local Hypnobabies instructors support one another and encourage expectant families to reach out to any of them for guidance. Hypnobabiestwincities.com is their shared website. There is also a home-study course at hypnobabies.com for those who can’t make the live classes work.

Ferguson is a birth and postpartum doula, Hypnobabies instructor, placenta encapsulator and La Leche League leader. She can be reached at bywaterbirth.com.


Jen Wittes is a marketing director, writer, certified postpartum doula and mom of two who lives in St. Paul.