Do I really need to take a whole hypnobirthing class?
August 8, 2017 4:14 PM   Subscribe

I really want to try hypnobirthing, but am not sure if I must take a whole course (either in person or self-study like Hypnobabies) OR if I can get the same benefits by simply reading a book or listening to a couple of good CDs over and over again? I assume a good book or full course is about providing exercises and drills that force me to practice something (although what I'm supposed to practice I'm not sure), whereas the CD may not?
posted by KatNips to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I took the course and also read the book as part of the course.

I'm going to be honest: The book is really badly written. Half of it is stuff that is unrelated to hypnobirthing techniques. And even the parts that are about the hypnobirthing techniques were so badly described that they didn't make sense until we asked our instructor what they meant. I almost asked Amazon to refund me the money for the ebook I bought so I could read in bed at night.

So, yes, the course is about doing the practice, but the practice is the important part. And it's an intuitive/feel thing, so having a good instructor show you how it's supposed to work makes it so much better. It was also great being able to ask the instructor about what to do in different situations and with different personalities. For example, I respond very poorly to "light touch massage" and they were able to offer an alternative that I actually enjoy. Our instructor also was open to answering questions through email and doing individual sessions to help overcome the fear of birthing.

In the class setting, you also see other people doing the hypnobirthing techniques. This is important because you will feel very silly at first. Seeing other people do it and kind of stumble over the affirmations/inductions will help you feel less awkward and actually practice it at home and while you're in labor.

In addition, my hypnobirthing course included an add on for "special circumstances" which turned out to be really useful because I had a special circumstance.

(FWIW, I ended up being induced for medical reasons and I did get an epidural after 1.5 days in the hospital. However, my induction went great and my birth was a wonderful, empowering experience even though it was not the home birth I wanted originally. So I feel that even if you don't reach the ultimate goal of hypnobirthing, there is still a lot to be gained from taking the class.)
posted by ethidda at 4:48 PM on August 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

I practiced hypnobirthing one-on-one with a coach 17 years ago--I don't think we were offered a book? I loved the sessions because, even though I was interested in the process, I was a slight bit skeptical, and I needed someone to guide me into the meditations.

I also agree with ethidda that it was absolutely worth it. I eventually needed a c-section, after about 5 hours of labor, and the anesthesiologist said I was as calm as he'd ever seen someone when he gave me the epidural--I credit that to the hypnobirthing exercises.
posted by correcaminos at 5:50 PM on August 8, 2017

I purchased the book and the cassettes on eBay back in 2003 when I was prego, read most of the book and listened to the tapes over and over in the car, or on headphones with a walkman at night. I spent about two months with the material. I also took a course at the hospital. The course was pretty much useless except for the videos of Hypnobirths and some of the commentary from the parents in the videos. You may be able to find them on Youtube. The instructor just went over what was in the book and on the tapes and we had a few round-robin discussions about our feelings and fears. I got more out of the books and tapes. I gave birth to a 9lb 3oz baby girl without drugs of any kind or even an IV prep, in the hospital. You can totally do it without the course. Of course, instruction and content will vary from place to place.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 6:16 PM on August 8, 2017

You could study general yoga or mindfulness meditation instead. The nurses told me that I looked just as calm as the hypnobirthers. I found general purpose breathing exercises helpful enough.
posted by crazycanuck at 6:24 PM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Whatever you do, figure out where to get the time to practice. I listened to the CDs once through but didn't practice, and that wasn't helpful.
posted by slidell at 8:10 PM on August 8, 2017

Ok, I'm going to admit that I pirated mp3s of the Hypnobirthing CDs. And I tried really hard to listen to them in preparation for labor, I really did, but they grated on me like crazy. I couldn't stand it.

Until I was actually in labor.

In one year I had two unmedicated births and I spent the majority of labor blessed out listening to Hypnobabies on my phone and growling at anyone who touched my earphones or got in my space. So I think they worked, but I certainly didn't use them as intended.
posted by annathea at 8:19 PM on August 8, 2017

I did a two day hypnobirthing course, and then read the book and other material I was given in order to practice afterwards.

Things I got out of the course that I couldn't just get from the book:
1. detailed verbal descriptions of things, and practical demonstrations of massage, touch, etc
2. practicing visualisations and meditations in a group
3. watching hypnobirthing videos (although I think there's probably heaps on YouTube - that was actually one of my favourite parts, I found watching women give birth in such a calm way really reassuring)
4. practicing with my partner in the course, and having my partner listen to all the material as well
5. being given additional worksheets that weren't in the book

I think I got a lot more out of the course than I would have from reading the book on its own. Having my partner involved was really helpful for me. (I had an induced labour and didn't end up finding the hypnobirthing techniques very helpful at all for assisting with the pain - but who knows, perhaps it would have been worse without them. I did find them very helpful in keeping a bit calm and centred.)
posted by fever-trees at 9:24 PM on August 8, 2017

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