How’s that Hypnobabies thing going?

Way back in March, I posted about hypnosis and childbirth.  It’s been a while since I talked about that, so I wanted to give you all an update on how that’s going.

Long story short: It’s awesome!

I selected the Hypnobabies method of hypnotic childbirth, and at this time I have completed the home study course.  Just this week I started in on the maintenance part of the program.

The course itself is easy and pleasant to go through.  The book is divided into 5 lessons with each lesson building off the previous one.  For the hypnosis part, the hypnosis tracks (which are on CDs that you just lay back and listen and follow along with) start by simply teaching you very basic, guided visualization and self-hypnosis.  From there, the tracks build on that until you learn to put yourself into hypnosis using what they call the finger drop technique.

The finger drop technique is a cue that you train your mind to accept that triggers you to go into deep relaxation and hypnosis.  This is the backbone of the program and one of the main tools I will use during my birthing time.

Hypnobabies is big on associations and cues.  It’s basic operant conditioning when you think about it.  You simply teach your mind to react in a specific way to a specific stimulus.

For Hypnobabies, those stimuli (cues) include the finger drop, where you bring your finger down like switching off a light switch, and words such as “release” and “peace.”  Every hypnosis track starts the same way and has the same music, so I have also learned to associate the voice of the woman reading and the music with the feelings of deep relaxation.

At first, entering the hypnosis feels a little challenging.  The mind wanders and it’s hard to really relax.  Hypnobabies plans for this, and because I listen to the tracks over and over and because the association cues are consistent from track to track, it becomes easier every time I try.

In addition to the new associations that Hypnobabies is teaching me, they’re also working to disassociate old feelings about childbirth.  As a part of this, Hypnobabies uses its own vocabulary to help you disassociate pain from childbirth.  Here are a few examples that you will see me start using in future posts about birth (old word=hypnobabies word):

  • Labor=birthing time: Doesn’t the word labor just sound difficult and unpleasant?  Birthing time is just so much more pleasant to say.
  • Contractions=pressure waves: Everyone knows contractions hurt, right?  We’ve all seen the movies.  Pressure waves though?  That doesn’t sound so bad.  And if you’ve been in the ocean, you know you can ride waves, let them carry you, flow with them.  It’s exhilarating.  When you fight ocean waves things get difficult and out of control, but when you dive into them, go deep, and let them carry you, they will move you and take you places.
  • Transition=transformation: Transition.  That’s that part in the movies where the woman starts screaming at her husband, right?  Pretty scary.  Transformation feels better to say.  It’s less frightening to think about.

Hypnobabies also does not use the word “pain” in any discussions on childbirth.

By dissociating birth from fear inducing words, Hypnobabies teaches you to better handle the intensity of the moment and embrace it with joy instead of shrinking back with fear.  In fact, the very first class talks about the cycle of fear and how that can actually slow down and prevent your body from doing the work it needs to do.  Clenching muscles and panic do not make it easier to birth a baby!

Lest you thing Hypnobabies is just a bunch of CD tracks, let me assure you.  It’s not.  The home study course takes you through a complete childbirth education.  They talk about interventions and risks vs. benefits, stages of birthing, etc.  We took Bradley classes when I was pregnant with the Grasshopper, so most of this is review.  However, if you are a first time mom, you will still get the information you need to help you navigate the birth process from a practical and intellectual standpoint.

So far, I’m loving Hypnobabies (if you couldn’t tell!).  I fall asleep every single time I listen to a track, which is apparently not a problem at all, and when I wake up in the mornings, I feel so much better.  I feel better rested, more confident, and just generally happier.  When I wake up at night, I use my finger drop technique to help me go back to sleep quickly.  When I had blood drawn at the midwifery appointment, I was able to use the finger drop technique to relax and get through it in a calm and peaceful way.

I’m excited to see how it works out during my birthing time.

Here’s another cool thing:  Hypnobabies sells individual hypnosis tracks for a variety of different purposes.  I’ve already ordered Needles are Ok! to help me deal with my needle-related fears, but there are lots of others that are intriguing: Baby Come Out, Breastfeeding Success, Peaceful Sleep Now for All, etc.

Hint: If you “Like” Hypnobabies on Facebook, you can buy the CDs and MP3s there at a reduced cost!  That’s what I did!

There is one that I will never buy, however: Eliminate Nausea Now.

I do not think this CD would be at all appropriate for someone suffering from HG.  Aside from the very definite fact that there is absolutely nothing about HG that is psychological or in the mind, think back to what I said about associations.  The temptation might be there for a desperate HGer to give this a shot.  To me this seems like a very, very bad idea.

Trust me when I say that associations are powerful.  Heck, I was into Firefly when the hyperemesis gravidarum started to hit.  Simply watching that as the nausea started to build has been enough for me to associate this show and everything about it with nausea.  The theme song, the title sequence, and the voices of the characters have become triggers for me.  Heck, it was all I could do to link to that Wikipedia article and write this paragraph.

You do not want this kind of association built for your childbirth method!

The last thing you need to have is an association with fear and vomiting when you hear the Hypnobabies music and the woman’s voice starting to read the scripts.  I think that the possibility in an HGer directly relating the hypnosis techniques for intractable nausea is a strong one.  This is why I choose to stay away from this track.

This track is probably great for women with morning sickness, but I doubt it would help an HGer and the potential for harm is definitely there.  It’s simply not worth the risk in my mind.

That said, the entire Hypnobabies experience has really left me feeling empowered.  I’m looking forward to a beautiful birth.  I’m excited about joyfully welcoming this new baby into the world!

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20 thoughts on “How’s that Hypnobabies thing going?

    1. I really am enjoying it a lot Crystal! I’m also loving the updates you and Hypnobabies send out on your twitter feeds and facebook pages! It makes it so much easier to surround myself with positive thoughts about my birth!

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  1. that is all very interesting. I have wanted to try this method because I have heard so much on it. But I have also liked hynobirth. Wondering if the stop sickness one could be used preemptively though or if the association risk might still be there/

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    1. I know next to nothing about Hypnobirth, so I have no way to compare the two. I do know that I love how in depth and thorough the Hypnobabies program is. It’s 6 CDs with 12 hypnosis tracks total, and each track builds off the next. It’s pretty cool.

      As far as trying the Stop Nausea as a preemtive thing? To me? It’s not worth it. There is absolutely nothing mental going on in my head to cause the HG. There’s nothing psychological about it. HG is purely physical. I really don’t think that a psychological tool of any kind would help no matter how powerful that tool may be. I would also worry that if you tried the Nausea track and it didn’t help, you would be primed to distrust the other HB tracks. This could prevent you from receiving their full benefit with your birthing time comes around.

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  2. I love this entry. You do a beautiful job of sharing Hypnobabies – which is how more and more women are learning about us. It’s so heartwarming to those of us who are Hypnobabies Instructors (we’re international now!) to hear how women everywhere are benefitting from Hypnobabies training for their births. There is nothing more beautiful that seeing how births and whole lives change for women using Hypnobabies for their births.

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  3. Oh NO, you can’t watch one of my favorite shows! That is absolutely tragic.

    However, your in-depth review of Hypnobabies was enough to convince me that I will want to try it if-n-when we decide to have a baby. It sounds wonderful and very realistic.

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  4. Firefly is a great show. 🙂 I’m the same way about SG1, Gilmore Girls, and Deadwood. Just the thought of watching them makes me nauseated. I really struggle with the entire HG is psychological stance that many people believe in. I was treated, at times, horribly when people thought that my nausea was related to psychological reasons. If I ever get pregnant again, I am making a shirt that says: No I do not have an eating disorder, Yes I want my baby, Yes the baby was planned, Yes I have a good relationship with my husband, No I am not depressed, No I do not want attention, No I do not vomit/spit on purpose…

    Any person with HG knows that the nausea is very real and that women with HG do not have any psychological reason (attempt of oral rejection of the baby or any other insane reason to vomit during pregnancy). However, the belief is prevalent. My own doctor said that she was taught that women with HG are crazy when she was in medical school. I had a nursing CEU that said that women HG is most likely caused by psychological factors. These are so disheartening for me especially when I see women who were completely normal before HG that I would never label as psychologically disturbed. Argh! lol

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    1. Oh, wow, so this helps me feel better. It’s not just me that has weird sound/sight-related triggers.

      Yeah, I have a pretty strong knee-jerk reaction to any notion that HG might be psychological. Definitely not okay. I don’t think HB does that. I think they really just intend their nausea track for something like morning sickness where things like ginger, crackers and fresh air are viable options.

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  5. This is something I have been interested in since having hypnosis for depression, anxiety and emetophobia (fear of vomiting I developed as a child) a few years back. During the worst of my HG I bought an mp3 from my hypnotherapist’s brother to help with the anxiety and fear that the HG brought back (imagine, already having a fear of vomiting even before HG sets in. It took me too long to realise I was actually very sick and not just reacting to the “normal” sickness many pregnant women experience!) I tried the “early pregnancy” track provided but it was too centred on overcoming morning sickness and so I gave up on that one and relied on the anxiety one instead. I couldn’t rid myself of the sickness, I knew that, but I needed help dealing with the anxiety.

    I tried listening to a new track last night to help prepare for labour and the music and voice association took me right back to those early days and I realised very quickly that I needed to buy a different one to help during the labour. So I thought it was interesting that you brought that very same thing up about avoiding the association. So this weekend I shall be looking into hypnobabies and other options to help over the coming weeks.

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    1. Amanda , DEFINITELY pursue Hypnobabies. The voice/music association thing you and Molly have mentioned is something the subconscious mind automatically does. Essentially you have been hypnotized for that response. Just like women have been hypnotized to believe that birth has to look a certain (anxiety-producing) way in our culture. I like to say that Hypnobabies RE-hypnotizes women to trust birth and their bodies and they end up being excited about their upcoming births -just like Molly is. BTW, as a Hypnotherapist I specialize in CUSTOM Cds and Mp3s for pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and all “special” circumstances. I also do Christian versions of all my work. If I can help you in any way, please contact me through http://www.jfhypno.com. Blessings on your personal and unique journey through pregnancy and birth!

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      1. Janet, it’s interesting to hear from an actual hypnotherapist on this. Part of what a lot of us HGers deal with post-HG are flashbacks. Physically we heal, but psychologically, some of us are left feeling so broken. Some of us have such a difficult time that what we experience would probably be considered PTSD. I suspect I have a bit of that myself. The first time a flashback hits you, it’s really terrifying because you don’t expect it. Kind of like when I turned the corner at the hematologist and was confronted with the blood draw chair. Gradually you learn what your triggers are an how to avoid them.

        It’s interesting that you say that this kind of thing can be a hypnotic response, particularly since I’ve noticed the connection with the TV shows. Speculative Speculum mentiond that also. In the HB program, they say that we’re in different states of hypnosis all the time and they give the example of watching a screen like a TV. I find that interesting since, for me, the Firefly trigger is one of the strongest ones I have right now.

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      2. Molly – Thanks for all of the wonderful support of, enthusiasm about, and descriptions of Hypnobabies. It’s folks like you who spread the Hypnobabies joy to more and more women. We’re all recommending your blog to our Hypnobabies FB friends now – you do a beautiful job! I think you’re absolutely right about the PTSD. Clearly. Unfortunately there is SO much trauma “out there” resulting from pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. I hear from women all the time who are looking for ways to heal their trauma. And it’s totally subjective. What’s traumatic to one may not be to another. The only important thing is what has registered in YOUR body and emotions as traumatic. When you mention avoiding situations that are triggers – what if you didn’t have to avoid anything. Through hypnosis, the trauma can actually heal. I’m putting off mentioning CDs I’ve created because I don’t want to seem like I’m selling anything – but I do want as many women as possible to benefit from my work. I hope you don’t mind me mentioning my CD called “Returning to Peace ~ Healing after Trauma”. It’s available at JFHypno.com as a CD or MP3 download. It’s helped many, many people – not just women – and I hope it will help many, many more. Can’t wait to see what your next blog post is!

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    2. Wow. Yeah, HG + emetophobia is nothing to sneeze at! In an instance like that, I think that the hypnosis would be a powerful tool to help deal with the *anxiety*. How interesting, though, that the music from the track is a trigger for you for flashbacks. I’m really glad, then, that I made the choice that I did to avoid the HB nausea track. The HB is WONDERFUL, and it would have been tragic if I had used it early on and built the HG associations with it.

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  6. I loved this post! Very helpful for me in my second pregnancy. We also did the Bradley course for our first pregnancy and loved it. I’m just wanting a little more and the hypnobabies seems just what I want! I received the cd’s from a friend but do not have the book. Since you also did the Bradley course first, in your opinion do you think the workbook is necessary? I’m just hoping to start right into the cd’s and not have to wait on ordering the book to go along with. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You definitely want the book. The CDs go in a really specific order, and you do not want to listen to them out of order. There are also some hypnosis activities that are in the book that do not appear in the CDs. For me, it was very much worth it!

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