Book Review: Hypnobirthing, The Mongan Method

Book Review: Hypnobirthing, The Mongan Method 1When it comes to natural childbirth (a.k.a. childbirth without drugs), there are three basic pain management "methods" that you can choose from:
1. Bradley (a.k.a. Husband-Coached Childbirth)
2. Lamaze
3. Hypnobirthing

When I say "method," I am describing a prescribed system or class wherein you follow a particular philosophy.

There is, of course, also an extensive menu of other "techniques" that can be used (aromatherapy, laboring in water, visualization, focal points, soft lighting, music, massage, etc.) in combination with or as part of one of the three big methods.

It is important to note that some women don't use a "method" at all. They just do what seems natural.

I first became interested in Hypnobirthing after William Camann, anesthesiologist and author of Easy Labor: Every Woman's Guide to Choosing Less Pain and More Joy During Childbirth, said he would try that method if he were a woman an labor. He explained that women who used hypnobirthing (as opposed to Bradley or Lamaze) seemed calmer and more able to enjoy their labor experiences.

I found it fascinating so I was excited to read this book and see what all the "fuss" was about.

Essentially, hypnobirthing stands on the premise that, "when fear is not present, pain is not present. Fear causes the arteries leading to the uterus to contract and become tense, creating pain. In the absence of fear, the muscles relax and become pliable, and the cervix is able to naturally thin and open as the body pulsates rhythmically and expels the baby with ease." This foundation is based in large part on the research and writings of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, a physician and author of Childbirth Without Fear (first published in the mid-fifties). The Hypnobirthing movement officially came on the scene in 1989 and has been slowly growing in popularity since then.

I appreciated the fact that "the basic tenet" of hypnobirthing is that "childbirth is a normal, natural, and healthy function for women." The book also goes on to say that, "the bodies of healthy pregnant women instinctively know how to give birth."

I was relieved when I realized that hypnobirthing is not some strange hypnotic trance that moms are led into with a spoon going back-and-forth, back-and-forth, with a syrupy psychologist's voice in the background. Nor is it like the comedic (and sometimes frightening) hypnotist shows that are so popular at county fairs across the country. The title is, in fact, a bit misleading. The philosophy is more about visualization and relaxation than the way pop culture defines hypnosis.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had a drug-free childbirth in a hospital setting for my first birth. Before the big day, my husband and I took a one-day "fast track" childbirth course through the hospital that covered everything from epidurals to birth balls to breathing. I also read a lot of literature. When I look back on that day, I would say that my experience was positive (it resulted in a very healthy and happy mama and baby), but I think there was a lot of unnecessary fear surrounding my experience. There were IVs and apparatuses and nurses running here-and-there...not exactly a calm environment.

Next time, I'll likely deliver at a birth center with a midwife...and I'll probably try hypnobirthing to some extent. I'm positive that I'll re-read this book and listen to the accompanying CD.

If you are considering enrolling in a childbirth preparation course, I highly recommend that you look into hypnobirthing classes. You can find a class on the Hypnobirthing website. You might also want to purchase the book, especially if you want to check it out before investing in the class.

NOTE: There is also a class series called Hypnobabies (I'm not exactly sure what the difference is, but I'll get back to you on that. I'm interviewing a representative from Hypnobabies later this week.)

WIN IT! One mama will win a copy of "Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method" by Marie Mongan. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post about your childbirth experience (what method you used, what method you would like to use, what your impression is of hypnobirthing, etc.) prior to Sunday, Mar. 16, at midnight (don't forget to follow the rules). The winner will be announced and contacted on Monday, Mar. 17. * Winner must provide a U.S. mailing address.

* UPDATE * The winner is #16 Kari. Congratulations!

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39 comments on “Book Review: Hypnobirthing, The Mongan Method”

  1. How nice it is to read about other birth experiences! I wanted to go drug-fee, but before I knew it I was herded into the hospital for induction due to astronomically high blood pressure, an IV slapped into my arm before I blinked, and ended up with an emergency c-section due to fetal distress. I have to say I was so upset about my birth experience at first, but I know my daughter's safe entry into this world was #1. Her cord was restraining her, and she couldn't go through the birth canal. I was so upset, but 17 months later I'm just glad to have her. We looked into expensive hypnobirthing classes, but we used the money on baby supplies instead. I'd love to read this book and pass it on to my friends--sharing baby/pregnancy stuff is the only way to go!

  2. I've had 4 babies- all labors different and worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse for almost 20 years. Saw a lot of trends come and go. As natural as possible is the best. walking around squatting etc rosans4@insightbb.com

  3. I'm pregnant with #5 and really want to go the non-medicated route this time. I was induced with my last and had an epidural, but ended up with a spinal headache. Ouch! My 3rd was au naturale, but came very quickly, so basically I had no time to choose drugs...and I probably would have if there was time! I had an epidural with my first 2 as well. I am really interested in reading this book and trying everything I can to make sure I can have this one the natural way.

  4. when I had my second daughter, I used the, let's say, the medicated method for various reasons. Well, she delivered herself under a sheet basically during the middle of the night (in the hospital)...some would call this a blessing, but I would rather go for the natural version next time. Planning on it. Would love this book for educating myself. thanks!

  5. My first was NATURAL>> And EASY almost had her without the doctor 3 pushes and she was out.. all 7lbs 11oz of her

    My youngest was A Toughie I had an Epidural and she still almost killed me, I labored longer wiht her than my first..

  6. I took the Lamaze class, no drugs during labor just a lot of heavy breathing and swearing.

    dolls123 (at) gmail (dot) com

  7. I've had four natural births. My first was a homebirth with a midwife. I read up on a lot of stuff, and sort of used Bradley. I never have taken any classes for my own pregnancies, but I teach an independent one. During my third pregnancy, I listened to the hypnobirthing Cd to help me sleep. Loved it, but I couldn't get it to help me all the much in labor, and I wished that I had been able to take a class. I'd love to win a copy of this book. erin behnke @ yahoo . com

  8. I'm a cheater-monkey! My doc let me be induced a day earlier than my due date and it was wonderful. I got the epidural when requested, pushed for 30 minutes, and out popped a beautiful baby boy. But, my sister-in-law is using a doulah (I don't know how to spell that) and going all natural, so she would probably benefit a lot from this book. She's due in June, so this is perfect timing. Thanks!

  9. #1 tried to go natural all the way until doc gave me the get an epidural or a csection speech, gave in to epidural.

    #2 and #3 - natural scream like heck and endure overwhelming panic as transition hit but very happy ending

    #4 I'd like to give hypnobirthing a try- maybe avoid that transition panic

  10. I just used the all natural way of exercise, eat right, and believe in the fact that women have had babies for centuries and I am no different. With my second child coming I am hoping for the same great experience. I am interested to read the hynobirthing book because this book seems to fit my style. Jess - jcook888 at hotmail dot com

  11. We used Bradley with #1, and unmedicated hospital birth. His was the least painful of my 3 births, even though it was 48 hours of back labor. Second and third babies were born at home, I used some Bradley techniques but didn't "practice" relaxation as much as I should have. #3 was a waterbirth and my most difficult; I focused on staying active and not so much on relaxation.

    I am now certifying as a childbirth educator through CAPPA - not a "method" class. I am interested in learning more about hypnobirthing. My email is mommyblawger AT gmail.com .

  12. I have had two 10 lb boys completely
    natural and it was very painful. I would love to try something more calming this time. Thanks for the great giveaway!

  13. I used the Hypnobabies for my son who was born almost 3 weeks ago. I didn't practice nearly as often as I should have. They say you need to listen to the CDs daily and I did for the first week then kept putting it off until days before I was due. I didn't have the "pain free" experience that they say is possible, but his birth went very well. Part of it I attribute to bouncing on a birth ball for most of my labor. I also played the Hypnobabies CDs which kept me relaxed and focused. The hospital staff was also wonderful and very supportive. They didn't even make me have an IV until after he was born. I was actually joking with my husband about not having the camera ready while I was pushing. The pain wasn't bad at all.

    Hypnobabies was great and I'd recommend it to anyone. I'd also reccomend buying an exercise ball to bounce on during labor. It helped a lot with the discomfort and I think it helped move things along quicker. I got mine from Target for about $15.

    BTW: If you draw my name, please draw someone else. I already have my Hypno course for any other babies and I'd like to give another mommy who wants to try it a chance. I just wanted to share my positive experience with Hypnobirthing.

  14. I absolutely should have tried harder to have a more natural birth. I literally know no one who hasn't gone the traditional route, and even though I KNEW I'd be more comfortable exploring more natural methods, I went the traditional route. My sisters three births, all of which I was present for, went beautifully. Quick and easy. So I thought that was how mine would go. Not so much - and I was extremely frustrated and fearful through the majority of it. And my doctor AND the nurse were horrible - very negative. I was really "bothering" them, I felt.

    So - long story short, if I have another - I will definetely explore options like this.

    As always, thanks for the great giveaways.

    dianna_ball@hotmail(dot)com

  15. thank you for the great contest

    enter me please

    pethof (at) gmail (dot) com

    #1 - 21 hours labor, thank heaven for the epidural
    #2 - c-section, long recovery period

  16. Stephanie-
    I think I had a similar experience as you. I also went the natural route but was not impressed with all the IVs, montiors etc. I, too, will choose a midwife next time and maybe even a doula as well.

  17. I had a homebirth with my son two years ago, it was a great experience. We had taken a Birthing From Within class with our midwife- that's another method that is becoming more and more popular. I also listened to a hypnobirthing CD daily in the last few months of pregnancy. The positive affirmations were great, I definitely think it helped. With number 2 I would like to learn more about hypnobirthing, although I can't imagine a better birth experience than the one I had with Max!

  18. I would love this. I've had three natural deliveries and for all those who worry about "big" babies, my son that was 8.6 was my largest and by far my easiest (least painful, fastest, quickest recovery) of the three. So, go figure!! I'd love to have more kids and this would be a great read.

  19. I had the 'Scream until they give you an epidural Method'!!! LOL! Next time I'd like a more calm experience! :)
    dansan826 at yahoo.com

  20. Of course I am being idealistic since I am not yet a mommy, but I would love to try hypnobirthing simply because I think it would be a calming environment when the baby enters into the world. I would love to read more about it!

  21. Funny, I was just discussing this with a girlfriend of mine as an option of mine come November. She did it and said it helped ease the pain... I'm interested in checking this one out!
    Thanks,
    Marissa :)
    md-sweeps (at) hotmail (d0t) com

  22. I have had six babies and all were different:

    #1: C-section
    #2: In the hospital with light drugs.
    #3: Went into labor while camping, got to the hospital in time.
    #4: In the hospital, no drugs 1.5 hours labor.
    #5: In the hospital, no drugs 2 hour labor (Christmas day)
    #6: Emergency induction, epidural, 12 hour labor.

    My next one I would LOVE to hypnobirth. I've thought about it for 3 years now.

    Great giveaway!

  23. I have had all seven of my children at home, and the last one the midwife didn't make it. I t was my easiest birth. I am really interested in what this book has to say.

  24. I used hypnobirthing for my daughter's birth 6 years ago. It was a wonderful experience with a midwife at a birth center. I was so relaxed and although she was posterior and the back labor was awful, it was very quick and manageable. I would recommend this method to anyone that is willing to put the time into practicing and preparing for a birth in this way.

  25. I'm due in may with my first, and I have no idea what I'm going to do yet. I'm just starting to research, and this looks like a valuable resource!

    nifferjeno at gmail dot com

  26. Both of my births were c-section. The operations itself isn't bad but the recovery was a bit painfull.

  27. DD1 was a Bradley birth in the hospital. She was posterior. The back labor was pretty intense, but the manipulation and hostility from the medical "professionals" certainly made things worth.

    DD2 was born at home and it was a polar opposite experience. There was no atmosphere of fear.

  28. My first baby was born via c-section because of a breeched position - it was hard to find a physician willing to try breeched births vaginally in the Northeast. It went well (healthy baby, Mom healed up well) but I felt like I missed the whole birth experience. While I'm still thankful for a healthy baby, I wanted to go natural so I got a VBAC 2nd time around. This time I went med-free which was fine til after the pitocin. I felt like the experience was alright, though I'm hoping to be able to go with a midwive next time with more control over the birth. Still undecided about what "method" to use this time around. :)

  29. I am over 40 and considering motherhood. There are so many things to think about. This method seems like a good option for all involved.

  30. I'm a second time mom to be. My first birth was not a great experience (lots of medical intervention, needles, pitocin, etc.) Now that I am expecting baby #2 I'm really hoping to try a much more natural route. I've been interested in finding out more about hypnobirthing and the idea of being more relaxed during the process. Last time didn't feel natural at all not to mention I had a wicked allergic reaction to the pitocin which gave me hives for 11 weeks postpartum. It was awful.

    Needless to say, I'm a little anxious this go around and would love to find a way to ease that fear. Thanks for this great giveaway opportunity.

    AKD
    dyerfamily1@bellsouth.net

  31. When I had my daughter, I was at the hospital. I had to be induced, I went 6 days over my due date. She is my first and only baby so far, and I wanted to be around doctors in case anything went wrong. I had an epidural, the whole thing. Good, because she was 9 1/2 lbs! I am interested in water birthing but have heard many pros and cons to it. hypnobirthing sounds very interesting, I would love to read this book about it. Thanks for the awesome giveaway Steph! hellomary018 AT yahoo DOT com

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