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The Science and Benefits of Hypno-Birthing

"When you change the way you view birth, the way you birth will change." - Marie F. Mongan (founder of HypnoBirthing® Institute)

in-bloom-kms-thumb-adj thumbHow often have you heard women talk about birth being: “exhilarating, amazing, enjoyable, exciting, empowering?”
You may answer “never”, because most of us have been exposed to birth scenes at some stage in our lives via television showing us high drama, screaming and labouring women trying to cope with agonizing pain. We’ve heard about the dramatic and worst case scenarios, and when pregnant it can feel like everyone you meet seems to have a horror story to tell about birth.

However in reality is birth always about women screaming in pain and men acting like hapless spare parts in the labour room? The answer is No. All you need to do is log onto the HypnoBirthing® Channel on YouTube to see for yourself. Beautifully calm and relaxed mothers breathing serenely through each contraction and birthing their babies in a tranquil manner. Their partners or birth companions are also calm,  relaxed and supportive. This is how birth is for many of the hundreds of thousands of couples who have used HypnoBirthing® – The Mongan Method, to welcome their babies into the world.

HypnoBirthing® - The Mongan Method is as much a philosophy as it is a technique. The concept of HypnoBirthing® is not new, but rather a "rebirth" of the philosophy of birthing as it existed thousands of years ago. It was recaptured in the work of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, an English obstetrician, who, in the 1920s, was one of the first to promote the concept of natural birthing. The method teaches you that, in the absence of fear and tension, or special medical circumstances, severe pain does not have to be an accompaniment of labour.

By removing fear, women are able to birth their babies easier and with more comfort. When we are afraid our body diverts oxygenated blood away from areas not essential to defence (ie the uterus) to areas such as our arms, legs and brain. These beliefs and from his experience with birthing women led Dr Dick-Read to the theory that fear and tension cause the labour pains in approximately 95% of birthing women. He termed this phenomenon the ‘fear-tension-pain syndrome of childbirth’ and he believed that by eliminating the fear women could return the uterus to its normal function, thereby eliminating the unncecessary levels of pain.

During the HypnoBirthing® program parents-to-be gain an understanding of how the birthing muscles work in perfect harmony--as they were designed to--when the body is sufficiently relaxed and there is trust in the natural birthing process. They learn how to achieve this kind of relaxation, free of the resistance that fear creates, and learn to use the natural birthing instincts all women have the ability to access, for a calm, serene and comfortable birth.

Statistics from the USA where the program originated show how mothers who use HypnoBirthing® are far less likely to need any intervention and greatly reduce the need for a caesarean. Approximately 70% of mothers using HypnoBirthing® need no pain relief.1
HypnoBirthing® mothers don't need to be distracted from any part of the birth experience. They are fully aware and totally engaged in the experience. In HypnoBirthing® we trust in the body's natural ability to birth gently and easily—if we can just get out of our own way and let our bodies get on with the work of birthing.

Using hypnosis will also equate in a shorter birth.  Studies have shown that for first time mothers using hypnosis and relaxation the first stage of labour averages about 3 hours quicker than mothers not using these techniques. The second stage of labour (birthing) is reduced by almost half.2
  1. Source:HypnoBirthing® Outcomes USA 2005-2010, HypnoBirthing® Institute,
  2. Jenkins and Pritchard found a reduction of 3 hours for prim gravid women (from 9.3 hours to 6.4 hours) and 1 hour for multi gravid women (from 6.2 hours to 5.3 hours) for active labour (262 subjects and 600 controls). Pushing was statistically shorter for first time mothers (from 50 min to 37 min). Source: Jenkins, M.W., & Pritchard, M.H. 
    Hypnosis: Practical applications and theoretical considerations in normal labour. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 100(3), 221-226, 1993.
This program not only benefits couples seeking an easier more comfortable natural birth. In situations where intervention is required for medical reasons (including caesareans), couples express their gratitude of having the HypnoBirthing® tools and techniques to help them cope with the challenges before, during and after the birth.

The skills couples learn in a HypnoBirthing® course include deep relaxation, self-hypnosis, visualisations, fear release and positive information about birth. They become accomplished at special breathing techniques for relaxation and learn to work with the body’s natural surges during labour. 

All of this helps to change their perceptions of birth to a more positive outlook, bringing confidence and excitement to a very special time in their lives.  In general the HypnoBirthing® program encourages a calm, peaceful and natural pregnancy, birth and bonding experience for families.

Wonderful Benefits to Baby.

IMG 3250 copy912(copy)Many of us can be unaware of the huge benefits to baby by using relaxation during our pregnancies.  We know that babies react to external stimuli, and they are aware of the people who are their parents. A loving, calming environment reinforces baby's positive feelings of security. What the unborn feels and perceives begins shaping his attitudes and expectations about himself.
By learning and using relaxation through our pregnancies we are helping to keep our babies calm. This state of mind (and body) can pay off big time – many HypnoBirthing® mothers talk about their chilled out, relaxed and calm babies who feed and sleep easily once born.

Recently a HypnoBirthing® mum shared her incredibly calm experience when baby was receiving his 6 week old immunisations. Lyn-Marie, a first time mother would previously break out in a cold sweat, cry and faint if she was exposed to a needle. She found that the HypnoBirthing® course helped her to overcome her intense fear of blood tests and needles. She was able to sit calmly through a blood test by the end of her pregnancy. This became an important skill for her, as her baby was rushed to intensive care after birth and required many tests for several weeks. When it came time to immunise Lyn-Marie was calm and confident, she settled baby, talked to him and practised some of her relaxation exercises. Her calm little boy did not shed one single tear after his injections, did not require feeding (as most babies usually do) and fell asleep soon after. A variety of nurses and doctors have repeatedly complimented her on this amazing calm and relaxed baby. The simple formula: Calm Mum = Calm Baby

The HypnoBirthing® tools and techniques are also exceptionally useful when coping with the demands of a newborn and for the stresses that naturally come as a part of the parenting journey. Couples are encouraged to use the skills taught in many other situations in life including work, sports, and areas of conflict.
What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state and is a little like daydreaming. Anytime we redirect or narrow our focus, such as when engrossed in a good book, or watching the flickering flame of a fire we could be said to be in a state of hypnosis. When in hypnosis you are always fully in control and aware of what is happening to yourself and around you. A birthing mother who is internally focussed is able to call upon her own natural birthing instincts. This, combined with the tools learnt in the course allows her body to work easily and effectively the way nature intended. Mothers often say they experienced just pressure and tightening sensations.
 A shared and Empowering Experience

HypnoBirthing® is a shared experience for the couple and the baby. Fathers can play a large role in the birth experience assisting the mother into deep states of relaxation and protecting the natural birthing environment. A stark contrast to the often helpless experience to sitting on the sidelines feeling useless. As a result fathers feel closer to the mother and baby directly resulting in better bonding.
Many mothers find birth empowering and life-changing, something that carries over into their new role as a mother and can often instil in them a greater confidence in other areas of their life.
Classes: are available nationwide and the 12 hour course usually run over a period of 4 or 5 weeks. Couples are encouraged to begin the course around 25-30 weeks into their pregnancy, although amazing results are still achievable even when starting the course in the last couple weeks of pregnancy. For more information on courses in Auckland see
Midwives also love HypnoBirthing® - some comments from New Zealand Midwives:
“What a great method of achieving a perfect birth – being a natural birth free of fear and pain. It was wonderful to see such relaxation and a woman enjoying her labour.”
~ Kate Rankin, RM, RN
“HypnoBirthing brings strength and beauty to birth and labour is usually shorter. The benefits also go beyond the labour and birth. The trust the woman develops in her body and the strength she develops in her mind, give her confidence in feeding and mothering the new baby and also throughout her whole life.” ~ Diane Hirst, RM
“Not only does HypnoBirthing help maximise calm during the birth but it seems to have an effect on the overall nature of the baby post natally. I have noticed increased success with establishing breastfeeding, and the settling of restless babies and tired mums is an added bonus!” ~ Cherie Davis, Independent Midwife
Comments from parents who’ve used HypnoBirthing®
I'm convinced the HypnoBirthing® helped me to have such a positive experience. When I got into the 'zone' it was amazing.
It was so gentle and such a beautiful experience. I look forward to giving birth again.” ~ Hannah

“The birth itself was amazing, it was exciting and enjoyable. My surges (contractions) were challenging in a great way and when I did the breathing and had my partners light finger touch massage I felt - wow I just breathed through these and yes it does work! You can feel any discomfort float away with your breath and visualisation.
I definitely recommend HypnoBirthing® and Helen to every pregnant woman. I am so happy about my birth and love thinking back on it.” - Miranda
“I found the techniques learnt invaluable and felt so relaxed an hour or so after the birth as my body had not really been tense much at all during the day. My husband and I had a lovely day together! And he was wonderful throughout the process. Thank you so much Helen. This experience has really helped me move forward from my last birth and feel so much more positive about myself and my ability to cope with things.” ~ Kelly
“I want the world to know, especially to give hope and faith to all mums and dads to be, that there is no need to have fear if you just trust your body and yourself, because we all can can do it. 20 minutes after giving birth I said to my midwife I could do this again!”
~ Tina,

mother-and-babyA HypnoBirthing Birth Story

Alex and Nathan's first birth to Elsie, born 27 Sep 2010
Our night started with a mini ‘show' at about 6.30 pm after a very busy Sunday. We had been out all day and when we got home we had the mini ‘show' and I called the midwife who said we could be in labour in the next week or so. After this news our energy levels increased and we called a ‘team' meeting to discuss our HypnoBirthing® plan.

My mum had only arrived 2 nights before from Canada and she wanted to be fully up to speed on our HypnoBirthing® plan. She was open minded to HypnoBirthing® but had only experienced medical births with drugs and was a little sceptical how HypnoBirthing®would work.
So we had a chat about the calm, peaceful birth we wanted and how we would do this when labour started. We watched a few of the HypnoBirthing® YouTube videos to show my mom the calm birth we were planning, and this also helped remind me what I wanted the birth to be like and that it was entirely achievable.

I wrote a list of my favourite birthing affirmations to reaffirm them in my own mind, and also so Nathan would know which ones I found the most inspiring. At this point I still felt like things were moving along (but Nathan was not convinced) and I went to bed to relax with Rainbow Relaxation and Birthing Affirmations.

By 10 pm the surges were frequent but not regular yet.  I found having my iPod on with the Rainbow Relaxation and Birthing Affirmations helped me get into the HypnoBirthing® ‘zone'. I was limp and relaxed between surges, and we used lots of light touch massage during the surges. As the surges became stronger I was able to go deeper into the relaxation zone I had hoped for.
The night passed very quickly as we laboured at home until 6.00 am. I used the rose imagery to help me visualise opening and thinning. With the visualisation of the rose, I found myself using my hands on my belly during the surges to simulate the opening of the rose and my cervix. This helped me to place the sensations to what was happening in my body and I could understand the sensations to be a good thing to bring my baby closer to me. I also repeated my favourite affirmations to myself at any of the intense moments. I didn't talk much during labour, but Nathan and I were in synch due to our practicing of relaxation together over the last month.
We credit hypnobirthing to our relaxed state and also intimate connection without actually talking throughout labour.
When we arrived at the hospital (6.30 am) the first nurse I saw asked “ Are you sick? ...” and then “ ..Oh you're meditating! ” which I was able to ignore and stay in my own zone. From this point on I hardly noticed where I was or who was in the room. I was 6 cm dilated when we arrived, my waters released after the midwife did the exam. We used the birthing pool for about 50 minutes. It was down the hall quite a ways from our room, however I was oblivious to where I was when walking there. I even walked into a wall at one point! While in the pool I didn't have my iPod on so Nathan whispered the affirmations in my ear and helped me focus on positives despite a very noisy woman across the hall who obviously didn't use HypnoBirthing®!  Earlier in the week I had a pedicure and painted my toes orange which was my birth colour. I found looking at my toes to be helpful in calming me while in the birthing pool.
When it was time to ‘push' I took off my iPod so I could hear the midwives talking to me. Nathan supported me during surges and again whispered the affirmations and prompts (from the list handed out in class that my mum was holding onto throughout labour). I felt amazing after birth and I was so proud and happy not to have used any drugs. I had planned on having gas if I felt I needed pain relief, but the thought had not even crossed my mind! I felt empowered and proud to have had a calm and peaceful birth. The midwives described our birth as an intimate experience between the two of us.
My mum was a great help and it was good to have another support person there with us. She was very impressed and explained the birth as a magical experience. She is now an advocate for HypnoBirthing®!
Our experience with HypnoBirthing® was amazing. We even credit the fact that Elsie came 5 days early to HypnoBirthing® visualisations. The doctors were threatening to induce me if I went past the due date, so once we found this out we started visualising Elsie coming a week early. She was also posterior two weeks prior to birth and we used the visualisations of the ‘perfect position' to help.

Thank you to Helen for teaching us the HypnoBirthing® techniques. Thanks to you we have very fond memories of the birthing experience.
The benefits of HypnoBirthing® are:
  •   Eliminates the Fear-Tension-Pain Syndrome before, during and after birthing.
  •  Reduces, and often eliminates, the need for epidurals, other chemical pain relief, episiotomy and other interventions.
  •   Shortens the first stage of labour by several hours.
  •   Lessens fatigue during labour, leaving you with energy for birth.
  •   Your birthing companion is an integral part of the birthing, not an onlooker.
  •   More rapid postnatal recovery.
  •   Happy, well adjusted babies, resulting in better eating and sleeping routines.
  •   A more relaxed and enjoyable pregnancy.
  •   A calm, peaceful and confident birth, leaving you and your baby with a positive birthing experience.

helen-familyHelen Bartrom is a qualified, certified HypnoBirthing® Practitioner, trained by the HypnoBirthing® Institute. She is the mother of three and has been fortunate enough to experience HypnoBirthing® twice with her two youngest children.
"My first HypnoBirthing® experience was giving birth to my son Jack in 2005 who was a large 9 pound 11 oz (4.4kg). Then, in August 2009 I enjoyed the wonderful and exhilarating water birth of my daughter Amelia.

I'm convinced that the HypnoBirthing® tools I learnt and enjoyed during my pregnancy enabled me to give birth easily and naturally without the use of any drugs."

My midwife, Brigid Beehan says: “As a midwife this was an amazing experience to see a woman totally removed from pain throughout the end stages of labour. There was no difference in her face during strong contractions – she was so calm that it looked like she’d had an epidural.”

“Nothing beats having had first hand experience of the program you are teaching, and I'm able to share my own experiences of HypnoBirthing® as well as drawing on the experiences of the many parents I've taught.

I became a certified HypnoBirthing® practitioner in 2007 in order to share the program with other parents-to-be. I have since taught over 250 couples and feel privileged to help to make a positive difference to such an important life event.”

Helen teaches regular classes in Central Auckland (St Lukes) and Albany, Auckland. For further details see:

About Us

Bella Mama® is New Zealand's leading specialist in pregnancy massage, caring for women and their families throughout pregnancy, birth and motherhood. Unlike many other clinics and spas, our fully qualified therapists have extensive training and expertise in this area. At Bella Mama we feel passionate about the benefits of positive nurturing touch. We also feel that during a woman's journey over this time she deserves to be nurtured, supported and celebrated. We feel privileged to care for our mamas throughout this special and unique time of change and discovery.  

We also support our clients with a range of specialist products, acupuncture, naturopathy and nutrition, as well as providing advice and tuition on the many benefits of massage, yoga and infant massage. More >>


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