LOUIS ó As more women seek a natural birth without risky
medical interventions, a new prenatal class is helping them
meet that goal through hypnosis.
Hospital St. Louis just started offering a Hypnobabies class,
and other providers say they are seeing more interest among
pregnant women interested in learning hypnosis techniques for
classes are always full or near full for each session that I
run," said April Woollard, who holds Hypnobabies classes
in a chiropractic office in Creve Coeur, Mo. She teaches the
six-week course about five times a year. "More women are
seeking Hypnobabies because they are really desiring an
empowered, informed and peaceful birth with the use of
hypnosis," she said, "to create a comfortable birth
that they can actually enjoy."
is often referred to as one of the most painful things one can
endure, as well as one of lifeís most important moments. The
prospect leaves many women anxious and scared.
techniques focus on reducing the fear surrounding birth.
six-week Hypnobabies course teaches self-hypnosis techniques
that instructors say can make birth easy and practically
pain-free. The subconscious mind is trained to experience
contractions as pressure, pulling, tightening and baby
moms say they relate the sensations of contractions to getting
their blood pressure taken with the tightening of the blood
pressure cuff," said Woollard, in her fourth year as a
not the eyes-closed hypnosis where the subject wakes up
without remembering anything. Women learn self-hypnosis using
recordings and scripts, which they practice often while
pregnant. During labor, they are awake and can change
positions and communicate freely.
really very easy, all it takes is a mom who has an open mind
to it," said Heather Comparato, a 13-year labor and
delivery nurse who began teaching Hypnobabies at Mercy after
using the technique when she gave birth. "She can be
skeptical, but she needs to be open to the idea."
Jagust, 26, of Affton, Mo., is about to finish the first class
at Mercy. She acknowledges that she is a bit skeptical about
having a pain-free birth, but the importance of the mind-body
connection and the effects of fear, stress and pessimism on
health outcomes have long been recognized, she said.
this really going to work? It seems too good to be true,"
Jagust said. "But at the same time, practice makes
perfect, and I will continue to do it. For me, what is wrong
with thinking positive about things and enjoying your birth
and letting your body do what itís naturally able to
2008 study, University of Florida researchers found that
self-hypnosis during childbirth eased the pain of labor,
lowered the risk of medical complications such as high blood
pressure and reduced the need for surgery. Other studies have
shown that because it helps women relax, participants have
quicker and easier labors with less need for anesthesia.
has long been used to improve health outcomes and has been
shown to be effective in quitting smoking, easing chronic
pain, treating migraines and improving healing time after
began offering Hypnobabies to support women seeking natural
births at the hospitalís new birth center, set to open in
September, where patients will be cared for by a certified
nurse midwife in a homelike setting. The course also provides
comprehensive prenatal and childbirth information such as
nutrition, exercise, birth options and newborn care.
was founded in 2001, and the first instructors were trained
two years later. Today, nearly 275 instructors have been
certified in the technique. Each year, thousands of home study
courses are also sent across the world where instructors are
unavailable, said Carole Thorpe, marketing director for
media has had a huge impact upon the birthing community,"
Thorpe said. "As more women learn from each othersí
birth stories through forums online, and by viewing
Hypnobabies birth videos on YouTube," more women are
seeking the tools.
goal is to empower moms to have the births they want, to be
excited about bringing their baby into the world,"
Comparato said. "I want to give moms the tools to be
successful in having the birth experience they want."