Guest Post by Certified Hypnotherapist Dr. Mavi Gupta M.D. & Jeremy Dyen: Hypnosis For Childbirth 101: What it is and Why it Works

A huge thank you to Mr. Jeremy Dyen and Dr. Mavi Gupta M.D. for writing an informative article just for TOP readers! I've certainly learned a lot! They are the creators of the Birth Relaxation Kit, the only birth hypnosis program presented by a board certified physician and hypnotherapist. They don’t just talk the talk, they've used the program to birth their daughter at home…pain free. – Hannah

Hypnosis For Childbirth 101: What It Is and Why It Works

Have you noticed that fear has become one of the overriding emotions about childbirth in our culture? Many expectant mothers feel real panic about giving birth. The very thought of laboring makes their heart beat faster and keeps them up at night.

Questions arise. “Will my baby be healthy?” “How painful will birth be (everyone tells me it’s the most painful thing ever)?” “Am I going to be a good mother?”
Doubts arise. “I can’t do this on my own.” “I’m not ready to birth my baby.” “I can’t do this without medication.”

In fact, this overriding fear has become epidemic. We believe it is at the heart of the over medicalization pandemic in the U.S., China and many other countries. It is at the root of the rising Cesarean Section rates. It is at the epicenter of each birth horror story that is passed from one woman to another.
But for “hypno-moms” things are different. Women who have practiced hypnosis during pregnancy, during birth or both, have a completely different mindset about birth. It is a very positive, confident and peaceful mindset. It is a mindset that embraces birth fully.

Fear is not the overriding emotion for hypno-moms. Why? Women who use hypnobirthing can relax their mind and body deeply when they want, even during contractions. They learn to naturally anesthetize and even eliminate pain. They often experience shorter, more comfortable labors. They are more connected to their bodies, births and babies. They even sleep better during pregnancy.

How Does Birth Hypnosis Work?

Hypnosis is often misconstrued as some sort of parlour trick used to embarrass people on stage by having them bark like a dog or act like a monkey. However, hypnosis is used medically every day in therapy sessions and even during surgery in place of anesthesia.

Hypnosis uses deep relaxation to open your subconscious mind to powerful suggestions. A subject goes into hypnotic or trance state using deep breathing and various “deepening” techniques, at which point positive suggestions are made by the hypnotherapist. In the case of hypnobirthing, a hypnotherapist might use guided imagery so you can picture your healthy, growing baby. The therapist might have you face your specific fears head on only to have you visualize them completely obliterated. They might make suggestions about your comfortable, positive and easy birth.

At the least, childbirth hypnosis will relax you. At best, you can learn methods to birth pain-free!Some of the other benefits of hypnosis:
  • Better sleep during pregnancy.
  • Shorter labors as a result of relaxation. Most birthing mothers work against their natural birthing waves by tensing, which actually slows labor. Hypno-moms flow with those waves (Abramson and Heron).
  • Fewer drugs or no drugs (Harmon, Hynan, & Tyre, 1990). That means fewer or no drugs for baby, which is known to help with bonding and breastfeeding just postpartum.
  • Deeper feeling of connection to baby. Greater feeling of security and less fear during birth (Tiba, Frater, Balogh, & Bognarne-Varfalvi, 1985).
  • More comfortable birth experience, or decreased pain sensation (Dillenburger & Keenan,
    1996; Barber, 1996; Oster, 1994; D'Eon, 1989; South, 1988; Mairs, 1995).
  • Fewer interventions and complications during labor (Mehl, Donovan, & Peterson, 1990).
  • Some hypnobirthing programs help to turn breech babies.
  • Faster postpartum recovery and a greatly decreased chance of postpartum depression
How Do I Do It?
In addition to being completely relaxing, hypnosis for childbirth is easy. It requires two main ingredients: willingness and practice. In fact, 80% of success with hypnosis depends on willingness. You simply have to want it to work. That is not so difficult! If you practice regularly you will be even more successful..

Furthermore, most people (about 95%) are able to be hypnotized. This is because hypnosis is a completely natural state. We all experience hypnotic states during daily activity, as when taking a peaceful walk, doing the dishes or watching a movie.

There are three paths you can take to do hypnosis:

1 - Private Hypnotherapy: One on one sessions with an experienced and trained hypnotherapist can do wonders. One on one sessions are often most effective because the therapist is working specifically with you. The therapist gets to know you intimately and can speak directly to your own fears and needs.
Always interview a therapist before committing to sessions. It is important you feel comfortable with them. If you cannot relax the hypnosis sessions will be less effective. You may want to make sure they have experience or training with childbirth hypnosis.

You may choose to have the hypnotherapist attend the birth, but it is just as common to only do sessions during pregnancy and use self-hypnosis during birth. The biggest downside of private sessions is the cost. Therapists may charge anywhere from $50-$125 per session. That leads us to two other great options...

2. Birth Hypnosis Classes: A class is definitely less costly. The fees for classes often run between $250-$350, usually including five or so two and a half hour sessions.

Other factors vary. The instructors may be trained hypnotherapists experienced with childbirth, or they may simply be childbirth educators with a hypnosis background. The classes may vary in size and class length. Some instructors will attend your birth. Some may not.

Many hypno-birth classes include scripts, manuals, workbooks and recordings. With classes you also get the benefit of a shared experience with other expectant parents. The value of this communal childbirth education is so often overlooked in our society.

The downside of classes is that many women find it difficult to truly relax in a group or class setting. If you cannot relax it is difficult to be hypnotized fully. Another issue with classes is that you have to deal with scheduling and you have to deal with getting there. Cost can be prohibitive for some.

3. Home Study: A hypno-home study offers the benefit of privacy without all the hassles of scheduling. You can do it in the comfort of your own home. You won’t have to deal with being in a group setting, which makes it easier to relax for most expectant mothers. It costs a mere fraction of what private sessions and classes cost. Most importantly, with a home study course you can practice every day if you want. We encourage daily practice for the best results.

Home studies use recordings (CDs, mp3s or both). Usually included in home study programs are a handful to a dozen hypnosis recordings, PDFs or guide books, scripts and/or relaxing music.
One final great thing about home study courses is that the materials are yours for life. You don’t need to schedule any other sessions or pay for any other classes. Often times, the recordings included in the programs can be used postpartum or really anytime in life!

Some great birth hypnosis home studies: Hypnobabies, HypnoBirth, Birth Relaxation Kit, Fresh Start Method, GentleBirth. Such programs range from $50 to over $150.

Q & A
Here are the most common questions we are asked about birth hypnosis followed by our answers.

Is A Person Who Is Hypnotized Still In Control?
It is a common myth that hypnosis renders you powerless and controlled by the therapist or hypnotist. As Kerry Tuschhoff of Hypnobabies says, “all hypnosis is really self-hypnosis.” In other words, you choose to relax, you choose to deepen that relaxation and you choose to be open to suggestion. When you are in a hypnotic state, you are fully conscious and in control of your mind and body. The hypnotist or hypnotherapist is simply an experienced guide.

Does Hypnosis Really Reduce Pain In Childbirth?While there are no guarantees that hypnosis can eliminate pain, study after study shows that hypnosis combined with childbirth education leads to positive, more comfortable birth outcomes. Many women report pain-free births. Women use less epidurals....little or no painkillers....rated lower pain scores....have a much shorter first stage of labor!

Can Hypnosis Reduce My Stress?
Most certainly! The core of any hypnosis is relaxation. Hypnosis, like meditation, is shown to reduce heart rate, slow breathing and change brainwave activity to that similar to a dreaming state. When you “wake” from hypnosis, you feel rejuvenated, refreshed and much more relaxed than when you started.

About The Authors:
Mavi Gupta, M.D., C. C.Ht. and her husband, Jeremy Dyen, C.Ht. are the creators of the Birth Relaxation Kit, at, the only birth hypnosis program presented by a board certified physician and hypnotherapist who also birthed using hypnosis. They successfully used certain advanced birth relaxation techniques when Mavi birthed their daughter at home, pain-free. They are passionate about empowering expectant mothers (and fathers!) to visualize the birth they want–a birth without fear, without discomfort and even without pain in any setting. They also offer a free comfortable childbirth video presentation and a free hypnobirthing mp3.

Mboj Anjali Longwood GardensMavi Gupta, M.D., C. C.Ht.
Board Certified Physician, Headache Specialist and Hypnotherapist. Mavi is a graduate of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts and The University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis, Tennessee. Certified Hypnotist, professional musician and teaching artist.

Jeremy Looking Down

Jeremy is one of the most sought after keyboard players in Philadelphia. He has recorded on John Legend’s Grammy award winning cd, Get Lifted. He’s performed with G-Love, Digable Planets, Zakir Hussain, and has shared the stage with numerous national acts.

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