My Bookshelf: HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method


In preparation for the birth of our first baby sometime in the next few weeks I started reading HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method by Marie F. Mongan. I’ve just started it, but already I’m impressed by the calming effect it is having on me. Funny thing is, I haven’t even begun to read much about the specifics of the technique.

In the first part of the book Mongan spends much of her time convincing the reader that childbirth does not have to be painful. When I read nonfiction books, I want to jump forward to the practical aspects of what they are teaching. I want the author to get to the point and teach me specific techniques, things I can practice. I hate it when books have long introductions, forewords, etc. that feel as though their main purpose is to get me to read a book that I’m already reading. Getting bogged down in why the subject is important for me to learn, the history of the technique, or descriptions of the technique I will eventually learn (if they ever get to the point) gets on my nerves. Many of these pop textbooks could be published as pamphlets.

The HypnoBirthing book, however, seems to be accomplishing a great deal already by convincing me that unmedicated labor can be painless. “Painless?” you ask as you chuckle to yourself. Apparently, yes.

Many women go into labor afraid of the pain they’ll experience and thinking of all that could go wrong. I know, not just from scientific evidence, but also from personal experience, that fear leads to muscle tension and tension to pain. Without fear, pain is greatly reduced and possibly even extinguished entirely. I’ve experienced this myself during yoga practice. I would often enter class with aches that would be gone by the end. Most classes I would begin a pose thinking I couldn’t maintain it due to a tight, pained muscle, but after breathing and concentrating on relaxing it would be painless.

The author also briefly discusses the impact of endorphins. It is hard to believe that staying calm can eliminate pain when something so drastic is happening to one’s body, no matter how natural it is, but that state of calm allows endorphins to be released. According to Mongan, they “have an effect 200 times that of morphine” (p. 5).

Labor is a unique situation in that an extreme physical change happens in a drastically short amount of time, but does not qualify as an injury. I had been thinking that my low tolerance for pain meant that I would definitely require medication, but I had forgotten that under the circumstances my tolerance may improve.

Pain has a tendency to control me because of my history of anxious thoughts. When I have a headache, I often picture a blood vessel in my brain swelling and feel fear that it may burst. During labor, I have the advantage of knowing that the sensations I’m feeling are normal, productive, and that I get an awesome prize at the end.

Despite the encouragement I receive from reading such a book, I remain ever practical. I know that I have a tendency toward anxious thoughts that could bring on pain. I still see an epidural as an option and will not feel guilty if I feel I need one. If anything, what I have read so far will help to reduce my anxiety going in and, even with the assistance of pain meds, that is a good thing.

I don’t want to read negative comments or horror stories that could destroy the calm I’ve been feeling, but I’d love more encouragement. Do you have experience with HypnoBirthing? Did you have a relatively pain-free unmedicated birth? Did you feel labor was easier than you had been led to believe?


7 thoughts on “My Bookshelf: HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method

  1. I didn’t learn hypnobirthing, but attended Bradley classes back in 2004. The only thing I really retained from it was to relax every muscle during contractions. I was astonished at how big a difference it made. I had one contraction with Leo where I got stuck half-sitting with the cat on my legs and I freaked out because I didn’t know where Dan was and got really tense and that was by far the worst contraction I had. So I’d say that even without hypnosis, your state of mind and control over your body makes a huge difference. Something about non-Pitocin contractions is that they slowly ramp up and then go away and having that lead time (and knowing there will be a break before the next one) makes coping possible. The idea of Pit-contractions scare me — I can see why most people get an epidural if they’re induced.

  2. Thanks for sharing this priceless info, KT. Flipping through the book was great, too. You can do this!

  3. I did HypnoBabies, which isn’t quite the same, but it’s similar.

    Labor was far from painless, however, I still feel what I learned was beneficial. I could tell a horror story, to be honest, but I really want to stress that even though it was nothing like I had planned, I feel that the HypnoBabies made a real difference in that I was able to make all the right decisions and I have absolutely no doubts or regrets about what happened. That makes such a massive difference in being able to accept things when they don’t go the ideal way.

  4. Justin’s grandmother (who is 82 years old) had Justin’s mother (60 years old) and aunt (57 years old) while under hypnosis. She swears by it to this day. That is something I could see myself doing too.

  5. I wanted a natural birth for my first and did the whole thing without an epidural. It was an intense experience to say the least. After several hours with no progress after my water broke they put me on pitocin. Grrr. That made the whole process a lot harder and yes uncomfortable to say the least. With baby #2 I ended up getting induced and had to go on pitocin to start things going. Knowing the joys of that I had an epidural. Wow, what a different experience. It was surreal to just lay there and let my body work for me and be totally relaxed and comfortable. My husband sat and read to me and my nurse was fantastic. I ended up telling the nurse that I thought it might be time to push. I tore with #1 but not with #2 – be sure to tell your doc to do everything possible so that you don’t tear – it’s awful!

    I would still like to have a natural non pitocin delivery, we’ll see.

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