I remember when I first heard about the idea of an easy and comfortable birth, I thought it was crazy. There is no way that is possible, right? But then I heard a friend of mine share her experience with hypnobirthing, and I knew it was worth a try. I won’t pretend that my labors were pain-free, but my first birth, even WITH an epidural, was a hundred times worse than the other three without (and they were induced, which typically makes everything MORE intense!)
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Forget everything you’ve ever heard about labor.
I have become pretty passionate about the messages that are shared around childbirth. It breaks my hear that this beautiful experience has been turned into something to dread. Think about it, our whole lives we have heard labor used as the measuring stick for pain. “It’s not as bad as labor, but…” “It hurt almost as much as labor…” The scale of pain in our culture goes from 0 to labor. Nothing comes close. At least that’s what we’re told.
But it’s not true! In other times and other places, childbirth is a joyful thing to look forward to. Some cultures actually have a birth day party where friends and family gather to await the new baby. The thoughts and feelings we have around childbirth go a long way in determining the kind of experience we have.
Hypnobirthing is helpful whether you plan to get an epidural or not.
Personally I prefer unmedicated birth, but I’ll save all my reasons for a different post. But even if you plan to get an epidural, that is not a reason not to practice hypnobirthing! Being relaxed instead of fearful during labor makes all the difference!
Besides that, there are so many things outside of your control, and even if you plan to get an epidural, you never know what might get in the way of that. I know so many mothers who had so many different things come up that changed their plans for an easy medicated birth. If you practice hypnobirthing, you can face those kinds of problems with confidence instead of with fear.
There are many resources for hypnobirthing, but my favorite is from Hypnobirthing Hub.
It is incredibly thorough, but extremely affordable. There is a huge variety of tracks to listen to in all different circumstances. It is so relaxing that sometimes I listen to the meditations even when I’m not pregnant.
I purchased the entire course as a set years ago, but you can read through all of my explanations and tips and choose which specific tracks you would like to purchase individually. It is also available on Amazon Music Unlimited.
- This is less of the how-to and more about the WHY of hypnobirthing. I still recommend it, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience with this kind of thing. I would recommend the audiobook version (free with Audible) so that you can just listen to it. That makes it easier to do other things at the same time and you can also get used to her voice (she has an Australian accent, which I personally find incredibly soothing) and style.
- Pregnancy Relaxation and Health — This is a great basic one, especially for earlier in pregnancy
- Quick Relaxation and Baby Bonding — Perfect for when you are short on time but want to get some practice or need to destress
- Pregnancy Affirmations — Also a good quick one, very positive when you’re feeling stress or worry
- Release the Fear of Birth — Just what it says, helps if you start having specific worries
- Release Fear Fast — Just what it says, helps if you start having specific worries
- Release Problems Fast — Just what it says, helps if you start having specific worries
- Release Relationships Fast — Just what it says, helps if you start having specific worries
- Rainbow Relaxation — MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE!! If all you do is listen to this one over and over for your entire pregnancy, you will already be in better shape going into labor than most. It’s great to really focus in and visualize everything it talks about, but also great for just napping and letting your mind drift off. It’s also one that is more generic (not so much talk of birth canal opening, etc ) so it’s a good one to listen to going to bed, Brian liked it too.
- Birthing Relaxation — Also a good general one to mix it up so you don’t get sick of the others
- Birth Partner Relax and Be Confident — Brian never used this one. I’m sure it’s great, but they’d have to really be into it too. Honestly, if you are practiced and relaxed during birth plus you have a midwife rather than a doctor, I don’t think it’s really that necessary. The thing that was helpful for me was to have the playlists organized and lots of other books, Netflix shows to binge, music playlists, youtube videos, etc prepared so that he could easily pull up and try different things. Personally, most of what I needed from Brian was giving me water between contractions and holding me/giving counterpressure.
- Visualize Your Amazing Birth — This one is my second favorite. Honestly, I like this better for when fears crop up than the ones that are specifically made for that because it’s focused on the positive.
- Birth Affirmations — Personally didn’t use this one a ton, but I know a lot of people like listening to this kind of thing during the labor itself
- Relaxation Breathing — Now we’re getting to the ones that are more specific training for active labor. While all of the relaxation ones are great for just drifting off to sleep, letting your mind wander, etc, these ones you really want to stay awake, stay focused, and really practice, especially in the last couple of months. I especially liked sitting on a balance ball while listening to and practicing all of these ones.
- Surge Breathing — One of the most important to practice. (Surge = contraction.) Do it as often as possible in the last few weeks.
- Birth Breathing — Good to practice, but there’s a better description in a YouTube video I’ll link at the end. I’d watch that a couple of times first to get the hang of it, then use this track to practice.
- Creating Anesthesia for Birthing — This is the best of the informative ones. Practice as much as you can in the third trimester. After you’ve listened to it a couple of times, practice the technique as often as you can. While getting your teeth scraped at the dentist, when you have a headache, etc. The best practice is while you are getting your cervix checked towards the end.
- Relaxation Triggers and Special Place — Almost as good as the anesthesia one, another good technique to practice a lot. Pro tip: Find a YouTube video that is as close as possible to your “Special Place” for when Labor gets really difficult. I used a video of a brook babbling through a forest. You could find one of the beach or really anything else you can think of. If you can find one that’s an hour or more, that’s best, but you can always just play it over and over. Netflix has a “Moving Art” series that is really wonderful.
- Early Comfortable Birthing — Good specific techniques to practice, especially in the third trimester. These ones are meant for listening during the actual labor, but you will want to practice them beforehand as well. You may or may not like actually listening to them during the real thing.
- Moving to Your Birthing Place — Good specific techniques to practice, especially in the third trimester. These ones are meant for listening during the actual labor, but you will want to practice them beforehand as well. You may or may not like actually listening to them during the real thing.
- Established Comfortable Birthing — Good specific techniques to practice, especially in the third trimester. These ones are meant for listening during the actual labor, but you will want to practice them beforehand as well. You may or may not like actually listening to them during the real thing.
- Birthing: Breathe Your Baby Out — Good to practice, but there’s a better description in a YouTube video I’ll link at the end. I’d watch that a couple of times first to get the hang of it, then use this track to practice.
- Quick Release: Change of Plans — You can listen once or twice so you know what it is, but really meant for specific circumstances during labor
- Pure Embrace
- Sea Waves
- If you find you don’t like listening to the tracks with words during labor, these are just nice peaceful music and sounds that will help you relax, plus they are the specific background music for all the other tracks, so they will trigger the same things in your brain without the actual words
How to listen to the Hypnobirthing Hub course.
Start out by listening to the entire Audio Guide album and the “Introduction” track of each of the other albums. You only have to listen to each one once, it doesn’t have to be all at the same time, and you don’t have to give it 100% attention. I just listened to them while doing the dishes, folding the laundry, etc. I also listened to a lot of the other tracks once through while doing something else just to see what they were like before going into full “hypnosis” mode, but that’s not necessary.
I put my favorite tracks into the following playlists for easy 30-60 minute sessions:
- Intro track from each of the different albums. Listen through all of them once before begining to practice.
Visualize (56 min)
- Breathing and Birth Visualization > Visualize Your Amazing Birth
- Breathing and Birth Visualization > Birth Affirmations
Rainbow (48 min)
- Rainbow Relaxation for Birth > Rainbow Relaxation
- Rainbow Relaxation for Birth > Birthing Relaxation
Relax (38 min)
- Pregnancy Relaxation and Health > Pregnancy Relaxation and Health
- Pregnancy Relaxation and Health > Pregnancy Affirmations
- Breathing and Birth Visualization > Relaxation Breathing
Numb (55 min)
- Anesthesia for Easy Birthing > Creating Anesthesia for Birthing
- Anesthesia for Easy Birthing >Relaxation Triggers and Special Place
Quick (10 min)
- Pregnancy Relaxation and Health > Quick Relaxation and Baby Bonding
- Your Birthing Day Guide > Early Comfortable Birthing
- Your Birthing Day Guide > Moving to Your Birthing Place
- Breathing and Birth Visualization > Surge Breathing (Contractions)
- Your Birthing Day Guide > Established Comfortable Birthing
- Breathing and Birth Visualization > Birth Breathing
- Your Birthing Day Guide > Birthing Breathe Your Baby Out
How to practice pushing (breathing your baby out)
As promised, here is a video that better teaches how to “breathe the baby out.” The best way to practice is actually when using the bathroom. Often during pregnancy bowel movements become more difficult, and using this method will help make things easier, plus prepare you for childbirth at the same time.
It may sound crazy, but I LOVE giving birth.
Even while in the delivery room in between contractions, I will often talk about how excited I am for “next time.” It is an incredible experience, and it can be completely filled with joy if you practice staying in a calm and happy mindset!