HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method is a lovely book. So lovely that its saccharin tone may drive some people nuts. If you are a “give it to me straight” type, this book won’t be for you. But, if you believe in mind over matter and the power of belief, it is a gem. I happen to be both, so HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method leaves me in an “embrace it / doubt it” conundrum. While I gave this book three stars for “prepared for birth,” it likely deserves 5 for some, and only 1 for others, according to beliefs and preference.
Hypnobirthing is a childbirth technique that utilizes specific breathing instruction, constructive beliefs and affirmations, self-hypnosis, and deep relaxation. HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method does not cover the techniques or visualizations – you have to take a class or buy the home study course for those. Rather, it reads like a detailed advertisement for the benefits of the Hypnobirthing method. Hypnobirthing promises pain-free birth with ease and boosts several benefits to babies as well.
So do I believe it? Well I’ve seen it, so I know that the method works for some people. I have had clients who prepare extensively with HypnoBirthing and say that they experience pressure and power during their births, but not pain. During their labors, as an experienced labor attendant, I can perceive the start of their contractions only by a slight change in their breath.
Now I have also had clients, more clients, who prepare with HypnoBirthing and find themselves caught off-guard by intense pain. The degree of pain experienced in childbirth has a massive range among non-hypnobirthers as well, so some difference in experience woman to woman is to be expected within any method group. That being said, it does seem plausible to me that HypnoBirthing, when embraced whole-heartedly and practiced thoroughly, has the potential to greatly reduce pain.
My clients who have experienced the most comfortable births with HypnoBirthing really dove into the training and also found it a natural fit for their personality and beliefs. The techniques alone do not work when pursued in desperate hope due to great fear or dread about labor pain. The fear actually needs to transformed in order for HypnoBirthing to be effective. I personally haven’t prepared with HypnoBirthing before my own births because it is far too rigid, time consuming, specific, and tedious for me. I prefer to roll with labor as it unfolds, believing that I’ll figure it out as it comes. Perhaps you can self-identify as someone like me, or someone who is eager and willing to practice labor techniques. If you want to build skills for labor before giving birth, this method has a lot of potential.
Pain-free birth or not, HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method also has value in its deep belief that women are made for birthing and that birth can be a joyful passage. I love the honor and tenderness with which the book regards babies. I think the attitude modeled in the book would help all of us be more sensitive, empathetic parents regardless of our birthing method.
I also give props to HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method for modeling love over aggression. Hypnobirthing is every bit as “alternative” and “natural” as any other birthing philosophy that diverges from common medical management and thinking, yet they completely avoid the point-a-finger approach nearly every other alternative philosophy draws from to explain their position.
However, the simplification route that Hypnobirthing uses also lends itself to making some pretty big statements without sharing any rationale behind their claims. I know enough about the research they aren’t sharing to know that some of their claims are a bit overblown. All the same, I think there is much to gain from a gander through HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method, and I recommend it to broaden your mind and invite your heart to lead the way.
HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method’s Author, Marie F. Mongan
Marie F. Mongan, M.Ed., M.Hy. is an award-winning hypnotherapist. She has 4 children.