Last week I published an article on fear in labour and birth - reasons why we might fear it and what can happen because of it (click here to read the article). And it seems I caused some controversy with it!
My intention wasn't to pit one program against the other. I get a lot of questions from people asking why they should spend the time and money doing HypnoBirthing® when other programs offer online courses or are cheaper - so I thought I would write out why I believe it is worth it.
I seriously considered changing the title to "Why combining the techniques of HypnoBirthing® is worth attending in person classes and hundreds of dollars", but obviously decided against it!
If you believe doing a different program is worth it, then so be it - that's your opinion. For the people sitting on the fence I hope you find this information useful and I would encourage you to find out why practitioners of other programs believe their program is better, and then make a decision for yourself.
Note: unless otherwise stated, anytime the word HypnoBirthing® is used I am referring to the program founded by Marie Mongan. Other names for this program include 'HypnoBirthing® International' and 'HypnoBirthing® - the Mongan Method'.
Aim of the HypnoBirthing® program
The aim of the program is to prepare you for a calm, comfortable labour and birth. Yes labour and birth is hard work. Many people liken it to running a marathon and it really is. And you wouldn't be able to just wake up one morning and decide to run a marathon. The same can be said for birth - you need to prepare your mind and your body for what is going to happen. Centuries, or even just decades ago, we would watch our mothers, sisters, aunts, and cousins giving birth. But we've lost that and now many women do not know what it involves.
Fear is a big reason for why labour is either painful or doesn't progress as nature intended it to. If you can get rid of the fear, the chance of having a calm, and relaxed birth increases. We are not saying that it will give you a totally pain free experience (although some women do experience this!), but instead we aim for a 'comfortable' and positive experience.
Labour is hard work and the sensations can be confronting. But think of the what your body is doing - your cervix is thinning and opening and a baby is coming down and out, through your pelvis and vagina! This is an experience to be embraced, not feared and fought. You only get to birth this baby once!
By combining the techniques of HypnoBirthing® I believe you are giving yourself the best possible chance.
“My dream is that every woman everywhere will know the joy of a safe, satisfying birth, for both her herself and her baby”
Marie F. Mongan 1999
Techniques HypnoBirthing® includes, and why I believe they are important
There are lots of childbirth education programs out there. Some offer online courses. Others tell you to buy a book and do the prescribed exercises. Some use only breathing and/or visualization techniques. Others teach only hypnosis.
The techniques HypnoBirthing® uses are:
Self-hypnosis (to read a definition on hypnosis click here)
Evidence based information about pregnancy, labour, birth, and beyond
Breathing - In Part 1 I explained that when a muscle contracts it loses its oxygen supply for a moment. If you can continue to breath during a contraction (or surge) then you are increasing the circulating oxygen and getting rid of carbon dioxide . You are therefore increasing oxygen to the placenta and to your baby and decreasing the risk of 'fetal distress'. (There's a lot more to this, which I explain in my classes, but trust me it all makes sense!)
Relaxation - tensing when your body is already doing such a lot of work is not going to help anything. Staying relaxed will conserve your energy for where it really is needed. It may sound strange to have to 'practice relaxing', but think about how stressful our lives have become and how much time you actually spend relaxing. Some practice may be required!
Visualisations and affirmations - believing you can do something and visualizing it can help you achieve it. I'm not saying its guaranteed, its just an extra tool to help. The more you trust your body and believe it can give birth, the higher the chance of it doing it (remember the women who work with animals in Part 1?).
Hypnosis - this is how we help your sub-conscious believe you can give birth comfortably, and that labour and birth isn't to be feared. We can't steal your credit card details or get you to tell us your darkest secrets - that's not how hypnosis works. Hypnosis has been used for years to help people quit smoking or lose weight, because it can change the thoughts deep within your mind that might be working against what you really want.
And evidence based information - because we want all women and their partners to be well educated on the truth about labour and birth (not stuff that you see on the TV or in the movies). The basis of our health care system is that everyone is entitled to make informed decisions about their care, but the doctors and nurses working in hospitals rarely have the time to go through all the information.
By combining all this, the HypnoBirthing® program gives you a complete childbirth education program.
Why do in-person sessions
The HypnoBirthing® program is designed to run over five 2.5hr in-person sessions. This can be in a group or privately. You will also receive the HypnoBirthing® book written by Marie Mongan, a CD or MP3 download card with relaxation and affirmation tracks, and numerous handouts.
The in-person sessions mean you are spending 12.5hrs with a qualified HypnoBirthing® practitioner. Many practitioners will also say that you are welcome to contact them after the sessions have finished with questions. HypnoBirthing® practitioners are required to attend a 4 day in-depth training course and then re-certify every 2 years - which involves submitting book reviews, showing how many couples they have taught and that they have been satisfied with their teachings, and doing a number of professional education hours.
Anyone who has played sport, spent time at the gym losing weight, or learnt a musical instrument will probably tell you that they get better results when they have a coach, personal trainer, or teacher. I know that when I went to the gym by myself I would do a few squats, 5 minutes on the rowing machine, then lift some weights. I never lost a whole lot of weight. But when I did sessions with a personal trainer I lost 5kg and noticed a real difference in my core strength and overall fitness. Most of the time I cursed her and told her I hated her, but she helped me get the results!
Some may say that reading a book and listening to relaxation tracks is enough. But we say that you need someone who is able to answer your questions, clarify points that you might not quite understand, and take you through scripts to show you exactly what hypnosis can achieve. Yes, there are some scripts in the book for you to practice, but its very hard to read them and be totally relaxed at the same time. And how would you know if you are doing it properly if you were by yourself?
As for courses presented all online - I certainly wouldn't expect to be able to perform a ballet just by watching some performances on TV. The other day I tried to make a chocolate and caramel slice from a video I saw on Facebook. It was edible but the caramel was more like a soup and it had to be eaten with a spoon. I have no idea what I did wrong and I have no one I can ask, so I'm not going to make it again.
If you have not totally convinced your sub-conscious that labour is not something to be feared then it will take over and try to fight the process. A practitioner can encourage you to really do the work and practice, practice, practice!
But its expensive!
And this leads me to the final point - why spend the money?
There is no minimum or maximum a practitioner can charge, it is up to them to set an amount they think is reasonable. If you find someone in your area is more expensive than someone else ask yourself these questions (and possibly ask them as well) - how experienced are they? Do they have other relevant qualifications, like being a doula or midwife? What costs might they have to provide the sessions (eg venue hire)?
And think about this - how much are you going to spend on a pram? A cot? Toys? I guarantee that you will remember your labour and birth for many decades to come - my Mum works in aged care and she says there are women with dementia who are still able to recount their story as if it was only a week ago. But in 5 years time will you really care that you spent $1000 on a pram when the $500 one did the same job? And you have 9 months (or more for some items) to save for the things you'll need after the baby is born.
We are not teaching this program to get rich. The vast majority of practitioners in Australia are mothers who are wanting to teach other mothers, and their partners, how they can have a positive experience. The money isn't going to line the pockets of some big corporate boss, its helping provide for our families, giving us some freedom and flexibility.
Let's look at what I charge and why I think it is reasonable. For a group class it is $550/couple, and I have a maximum of 4 couples/class. If I get 4 couples that means I earn $2200. You may say 'that's a lot', but if you spread it over the 5 weeks in equates to $440/week (before you minus the venue hire and what I pay to buy the books, CD, and gifts that you get). As a nurse/midwife I earn about $600 doing a weekday 10hr night shift. If I get 4 couples in a class it means that I can maybe skip 1 night shift/fortnight, which means I get to spend extra time with my daughter. If I only get 1 couple in a class then it still goes ahead and I would only get $110/week, meaning I still need to do the night shift.
Being a practicing midwife, a nurse working in NICU, and lactation consultantI can also add lots of information about birthing in hospitals around Perth. I have also worked in the UK, Ghana, and Sri Lanka, meaning I can give you an international perspective. As a RN and RM I have to do 40hrs/year professional development - which means I have to read journal articles, attend study days, and do online learning packages, so I am staying up to date with current information.
Ultimately the choice to do this course is yours alone, I just hope that the information above helps you understand why we encourage you to attend in-person sessions and spend the money.
If you are in Perth click here to find out about the classes I offer. If you are outside of Perth click here to find a practitioner near you. Alternatively you are welcome to contact me on 0405427998 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information