Why I Chose HypnoBirthing: The Basics

This is a post that I wrote while pregnant with my last baby, when my plans were to deliver in a birth center. This time I am planning a homebirth and although not opting for a waterbirth, my desires are still similar and I still value all of this information that I learned!

Knowing that I no longer wanted to deliver in a hospital, possibly in a birthing tub, without medications of any kind was the easy part. When I went in for an appointment with the midwife that I’d not yet met due to her own recent homebirth delivery, we discussed my birthing desires and she said that I should look into HypnoBirthing. I ordered the book (HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method by Marie F. Mongan, M.Ed.,M.Hy.) but just a few pages in, I was skeptical. “Childbirth doesn’t have to be painful? Oh come on!” was my initial reaction, I even turned to my husband and told him that we’d likely have to pick up a different book because this was going to be a bunch of hooey. Still, I read on and am very glad that I did. You just can’t argue with cold hard facts and I couldn’t deny the information handed to me in the first few chapters. So now I want to begin to summarize this book, not just because the repetition will help me remember, but because I think that every woman planning to deliver a baby someday should at least hear part one!


  • being in a state of calm decreases the firing rates of neurons in the central nervous system, resulting in a decrease of pain
  • endorphins are neuropeptides in the brain and pituitary gland that produce a tranquil effect 200 times that of morphine
  • the uterus of a relaxed laboring mother works as such: the stronger vertical muscles of the outer layer tighten, drawing up the relaxed circular muscles at the neck of the uterus and causing the edges of the cervix to progressively thin; the vertical muscles also shorten and flex to nudge the baby down and expel him/her.
  • the sympathetic system, a subsidiary of the body’s automatic nervous system, is triggered when we are stressed, frightened, or startled. When this system is “activated”, it causes the pupils to dilate and increases the speed and force of the heart rate, going into defense mode and suspending organs that are not essential for defense. Entering labor with fear and stress releases the stressor hormone (catecholamine) activating the sympathetic system’s response, which directs the blood away from the uterus for the organs that are integral in the defense mechanism. This causes the arteries going to the uterus to tense and constrict which restricts the flow of oxygen and blood. The limited blood and oxygen cause the lower circular fibers of the uterus to tighten and constrict instead of relaxing and opening. With these muscles resisting, the cervix remains taut and closed. These muscles working against each other creates pain, draws out, or even shuts down labor and the limited oxygen in the uterus can compromise the supply of oxygen to the baby.

What does all this mean? Especially in regards to labor, the body works as a well-oiled machine. Panic and fear trigger a completely different course of action. Putting yourself into a relaxed state during labor allows all of the muscles of the uterus to work as they were meant to, but stressing makes them work against each other and heightens feelings of pain in the body, and can lead to birthing complications like fetal distress or a cervix’s refusal to open. It’s amazing to think that all of this is often directly related to our minds but at the same time, doesn’t it make perfect sense that our brains control everything in our bodies?

Now, I’m not claiming that my labor will be completely pain-free and praising HypnoBirthing as the magical answer, not at all. I do, however, believe that relaxation will be my key to making everything easier. My last delivery was definitely painful after my water broke, but I spent the brief latter part of labor letting out low-pitched moans until my moment of panic. Several things will change so that I can hopefully avoid the same panic I felt during my final stage of labor, I’ll get into these changes later.

Statistically, HypnoBirthing moms experience faster labors and less complications and it stands to reason that this state of calm is the answer! I’ll explore the techniques further in upcoming parts of my blog but I hope this has your attention as it did mine!


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