Hypnobirth: Is It for You?

My labor strategy goes something like this: (1) endure contractions at home until it feels like time to head to the hospital, (2) check into hospital, (3) accept the sweet, sweet relief of an epidural, (4) read magazines, play cards, surf the Internet, etc., (5) push a baby out. That’s more or less how it went last time around, and I have high hopes for a repeat.

Being of the “I wouldn’t have major dental work without anesthesia” mentality, I’m all over pain meds during childbirth, but I realize not everyone feels the same. For those going the more “natural” route, there are a lot of options for pain management: breathing techniques, concentrating on a special focus object, using props like a birth ball or massage tools, sitting in a warm tub…

Another technique that’s becoming more popular is hypnobirth. You basically put yourself into a state of deep relaxation and, according to Hypnobirthing.com, the result is “a calm, serene, and comfortable birth.” Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?

Hypnobirth isn’t like the traditional form of hypnotism you might have seen at a stage show; hypnobirthers are not in a trance but are awake and aware of what’s happening, fully able to participate and, to a certain extent, control their labor experience. The philosophy is that being relaxed throughout the process allows endorphins, your body’s natural “happy hormone,” to surge and override the stress hormones that cause your muscles to constrict and allow your body to feel pain.

A few years ago, I had two friends planning to use hypnobirthing techniques during their upcoming labors. They read stacks of books, went to training classes and fully prepared themselves for successful, relaxed, “comfortable” deliveries. One friend gave birth at home with a midwife and said it worked wonders during her 3-hour delivery. The other friend gave this verdict: “They LIED,” she said. She ended up suffering through hours of painful contractions and ended up begging for an epidural to get her through to the end.

Hypnobirth might not be for everyone, but could it be for you? Even if it’s not painless, it can be one way to cope with pain without medication.

Anyone out there looked into, or even tried, hypnobirth? Did it work?