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Hypnobirthing Guide - What is Hypnobirthing?

Stephanie Martin

Hypnobirthing Guide - What is Hypnobirthing?

Written by
Stephanie Martin

Hypnobirthing is a birth preparation technique which helps you to manage pain during labour through using relaxation, massage, breathing and self-hypnosis methods to achieve a positive birth experience. Hypnobirthing can be used in a hospital, birth centre or a home birth. 


The seeds of the natural birth movement were first sown with the work of eminent obstetrician Dr Grantly Dick-Read. After witnessing a home birth in the slums of the London Docks in 1913 where the mother refused any pain relief and then proceeded to give birth quickly and with no pain, Grantly Dick-Read was truly amazed.

The mother’s comment after giving birth when he asked why she refused the pain relief was “It didn’t hurt. It wasn’t meant to, was it, Doctor?” This experience was defining, and after a career of working on the battlefield in the first world war and subsequently in hospitals as an obstetrician, he theorized that fear was the overriding cause that led to the pain in childbirth. At the end of his career, he wrote the book “Childbirth Without Fear”. He hypothesized that when you are fearful, you tense up and the natural birth process is inhibited and becomes longer and consequently more painful.

Over the years his theories have been fully vindicated with research into how hormones work during childbirth. His principles have been further developed by a number of natural birth practitioners with Hypnobirthing being the most notable and widely practised.

Hypnobirthing can reduce the need for pain relief and shorten labour, and you are more likely to experience a natural, calm, comfortable birth. It actively involves the partner; you will both learn skills to instil confidence about the birth and your role as parents.

Learn more about Hypnobirthing in this book Your Baby, Your Birth written by Hollie De Cruz.

hypnobirthing book

By practising hypnobirthing techniques in pregnancy, by the time your labour begins you should be able to go into a state of self-hypnosis, which will help your body to go through the natural process of giving birth without you tensing up. 

The theory is that fear is a response. And if you reduce negative emotions such as stress, anxiety and feeling scared, you are more likely to find birth less painful.

What are the methods and techniques used in hypnobirthing?

  • Breathing Techniques: Deep, slow breathing is a cornerstone of hypnobirthing. Techniques such as the "Surge Breath" or "Calm Breathing" help women stay relaxed and focused during contractions, facilitating the smooth progression of labor.

  • Visualisations: Guided imagery and visualisation exercises allow women to create mental images of a positive birth experience. By envisioning their ideal birth scenario, complete with feelings of relaxation and empowerment, women program their minds for a smooth and gentle childbirth.

  • Affirmations: Positive affirmations serve as powerful tools for reprogramming the subconscious mind. Expectant mothers often create personalised affirmations that resonate with them, reinforcing beliefs in their body's ability to birth calmly and comfortably.

  • Relaxation Scripts: Pre-recorded relaxation scripts or hypnobirthing tracks provide guided sessions that induce deep relaxation. Listening to these tracks during pregnancy and labor helps women enter a state of profound calmness and receptivity.

  • Birth Partner Involvement: Birth partners play a crucial role in hypnobirthing, offering continuous support, reassurance, and encouragement throughout the birthing process. They learn techniques to assist the birthing mother in staying relaxed and focused, ensuring a positive birthing environment.


Reasons to try hypnobirthing:

  • Help manage stress hormones and reduce anxiety. During labour, your body produces chemical oxytocin which helps progress labour. Stress hormones affect the production of oxytocin, making your labour longer. 
  • Can make labour shorter
  • Practising hypnobirthing can help you to feel more in control and prepared 
  • Your birth partner can play a more active role in supporting you through labour
  • May reduce the need for drugs and medical intervention. However, you can have pain relief if you want to. 
  • Hypnobirthing techniques can be used effectively in any setting - hospital, birth centre or at home
  • Positive birth experience may benefit you after birth too. Evidence shows that it can lower the chance of postnatal depression
  • Labour and birthing can be considerably shorter
  • You can use your hypnobirthing techniques to help relax at any time you feel stressed (an invaluable tool)

Hypnobirthing Benefits:

Hypnobirthing has been associated with numerous benefits for both mother and baby. Women who practice hypnobirthing often report shorter and more comfortable labors, reduced need for medical interventions, and increased satisfaction with their birthing experience. Babies born through hypnobirthing tend to be more alert, calm, and content, reflecting the peaceful atmosphere of their entry into the world.

In a world where childbirth is often portrayed as daunting and painful, hypnobirthing offers a refreshing perspective—a perspective that celebrates the strength and wisdom of women's bodies. By embracing relaxation, positivity, and self-empowerment, hypnobirthing guides expectant mothers on a journey of self-discovery and transformation, paving the way for a gentle, empowering, and enjoyable birthing experience. Whether in a hospital, birth centre, or home setting, hypnobirthing empowers women to approach childbirth with confidence, trust, and a deep sense of calmness, ushering in a new era of empowered motherhood.

Hypnobirthing Books:

  1. "The Hypnobirthing Book: An Inspirational Guide for a Calm, Confident, Natural Birth" by Katharine Graves: This comprehensive guide provides expectant mothers with practical techniques, relaxation exercises, and positive affirmations to prepare for a calm and empowering birth experience. It covers everything from understanding the physiology of labor to creating a supportive birthing environment.
  2. "HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method" by Marie F. Mongan: Widely regarded as the seminal work on hypnobirthing, this book introduces readers to the Mongan Method—a gentle, natural approach to childbirth that emphasizes relaxation, visualization, and self-hypnosis. It includes personal stories, birth affirmations, and detailed instructions for achieving a peaceful birth.
  3. "Mindful Hypnobirthing: Hypnosis and Mindfulness Techniques for a Calm and Confident Birth" by Sophie Fletcher: Combining hypnosis with mindfulness practices, this book offers a modern approach to hypnobirthing. It teaches expectant parents how to cultivate mindfulness during pregnancy and birth, harnessing the power of the mind-body connection to achieve a positive birth experience.
  4. "Hypnobirthing Home Study Course Manual: Step-by-Step Guide to an Easy, Natural, and Pain-Free Birth" by Kathryn Clark: Ideal for those who prefer to learn at their own pace, this comprehensive manual provides a step-by-step guide to hypnobirthing techniques. It includes relaxation scripts, visualization exercises, and practical tips for preparing both mentally and physically for childbirth.
  5. "Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor's Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices" by Sarah J. Buckley: While not exclusively focused on hypnobirthing, this book explores the physiological and emotional aspects of childbirth from a holistic perspective. It advocates for gentle birthing practices, including hypnobirthing, and offers valuable insights into creating a nurturing environment for both mother and baby.

Anja covers the hynobirthing course in our complete pregnancy and parenting course - read more here

For more information on birth check out our Birth Hub where you will find lots of freebies and useful information.

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