When you talk to childbirth educators you immediately get a sense of their passion for their jobs. When I sat down with Jennifer Ivans, CD, CBE, I was struck by the excitement in her voice as she began to tell me about teaching the Hypnobabies Childbirth method. It was clear that not only is she passionate about her job educating couples but that she really believes in the power of self-hypnosis as a tool for coping with labor naturally. Her voice softened and her cadence slowed as she described a couple using the techniques taught in class during their birth. Her story was so compelling I began to wonder what my own births would have been like using self-hypnosis!
Hypnobabies uses self-hypnosis grounded in “medical grade somnabulistic hypnosis.” The desired result is a pregnancy and birth that is relaxed and peaceful while cultivating a confident mother and support person who can navigate labor in a state of deep relaxation. Hypnobabies has its own language, replacing “contractions,” with “pressure waves,” and “labor” with “birthing day.” By changing the language used to describe labor the mind is trained to not attach sensations of discomfort and instead use hypnosis cues to relax. Jennifer urges that this takes practice to master and success is largely dependent on how disciplined mothers are in their home study.
I express to Jennifer that I am somewhat skeptical that, even with diligent practice, labor can be even minimally painless. I’ve done it three times myself, I say, and even the easiest birth still had moments that took my breath away. So, Jennifer shows me a video of a patient using hypno-anesthesia during a breech version, a technique to manually turn a breech baby into a head-down position. The mother turns on her relaxation script provided as part of her classes and appears to fall off to sleep. The doctor turns the baby and the mother wakes and asks if he is done. She appears to have slept through the entire process!
I am almost a Hypnobabies convert, but I have a few more questions: what about when there are complications or illness? And is hypnosis and the Hypnobabies course applicable for mothers who need an induction of labor or a cesarean birth? Yes, Jennifer assures me. The language of Hypnobabies is meant to cultivate a mindset that minimizes the idea that pregnancy and labor are unwelcome or painful sensations. While many patients desire an un-medicated birth, the self-hypnosis techniques are relevant in any birthing situation. No one really knows how pregnancy and labor will unfold, but the “deep relaxation and … very pleasant hypnotic state” achieved by mothers using Hypnobabies seems particularly helpful if complications arise.
One of the things that really stands out during our conversation about Hypnobabies is how useful the hypnosis practice can be during pregnancy. So many of us live stressful lives, and pregnancy is a time of transition, worry, and excitement. I imagine that the daily relaxation practice brings a much-needed respite from the rush of daily life and gives parents time to focus on themselves and their growing baby. All around, Hypnobabies seems like an excellent way to approach pregnancy and birth!
You can read more about Hypnobabies here and even watch videos and download a sample hypnosis session. Hypnobabies classes are taught throughout the year and you can register on our website. To learn more about Jennifer Ivans, certified Hypnobabies instructor and doula, or discuss whether Hypnobabies is a good fit for you, please visit our instructor page.
About the Author:
Jennifer Hoover is a maternal-child health specialist, board certified lactation consultant, childbirth educator and writer for The Women’s Clinic of Northern Colorado.