This is a tough review to write because it’s kind of the tale of two experiences: pregnancy and childbirth. Overall, I highly recommend Hypnobabies to women (and men! there’s a partner’s program) who are interested in:
- a calm, meditative preparation for pregnancy and childbirth
- possibly pursuing a drug-free childbirth (or at least a delayed-drug experience)
- breathing and mental exercises for pregnancy and childbirth
The program costs about $150 retail (you can find some good deals on used programs and also from Hypnobabies itself on ebay) and contains a series of CDs and handbooks. It’s a HUGE commitment — ideally, you’ll listen to tracks every day (sometimes two tracks a day) and do a series of exercises from the books. I’ll be 100% honest and tell you that while I listened to tracks almost every day, I definitely did not follow the program exactly as laid out.
Having said all of that — I was able to get to my goal of having a drug-free labor and delivery, and while it wasn’t the most calm of experiences, it was amazing and I chalk a LOT of that up to my preparation using Hypnobabies.
I absolutely LOVED my Hypnobabies exercises during pregnancy, especially the affirmations and fear-clearing tracks. I was almost as nervous about being pregnant as I was about becoming a mom (so many unknowns!) so the 30- to 60-minute sessions reminded me to take one day at a time, enjoy my experience and to know that my body was meant to be healthy and grow a happy baby.
There were certainly nights where I really struggled to get my mind into the exercises, especially because I was very busy and sometimes had to choose between Hypnobabies, blogging, reading and spending time with my husband. Most nights, I was able to discipline myself and head upstairs, shut the lights off, relax and listen to my tracks, and I think the fact that I did spend a lot of time getting mentally prepared helped me. Toward the end of pregnancy, I also really got into the habit of listening to my affirmations track in the car on the way to work (almost all of the tracks use hypnosis, but the affirmations did not and so was safe to use while awake).
I chose the self-study program because I couldn’t find any Hypnobabies instructors in my area. I wish I could have attended in-person classes or trained with a person, because the at-home tracks really require you to be your own teacher.
Things that I really liked:
- Bubble of peace — this helped me stay away from negative birth stories and tune out people who wanted to question my decision to have an unmedicated childbirth
- The relaxation and affirmation techniques — I am a Type A to the max, so being required to calm my body and mind went a long way
- The fact that I could use the tracks on my own time, in my own environment
Things that I didn’t like:
- This is a HUGE time commitment, and I worried that even taking a day or two off a week would hinder me
- The tracks are very hippie-ish, and while I strongly believe in things like yoga and meditation, sometimes the extreme nature of the program turned me off
- No local instructors or classes
- The “light switch” — I was never able to truly get deep enough for that to work and I spent a lot of time stressing about the fact that I wasn’t doing the program correctly (the guide tells you there is no wrong way to work Hypnobabies, so this is really my issue, not something inherently bad about Hypnobabies)
One final note — Hypnobabies is really designed to be for the mom but there are tracks for the partner, as well as workbook exercises that the couple (or mom and supportive partner) are supposed to do. My husband was 100% on board with me completing the program and did everything I asked, even trying hypnosis himself and working through the guidebook. But he wasn’t nearly as into Hypnobabies as I was, and I think that would probably be the experience for most “others.” For me, the program was about getting MY head in the game, and I didn’t feel it was as important for him to commit in the way I did. He helped me in a gazillion other ways, including the training with our fabulous doula, and was an incredible support system on the day of delivery.
This section will be short and sweet because despite my birth wishes, my plans and my expectations, I did not use Hypnobabies at all during labor and delivery (at least not in the traditional way). I had planned to use the birth day tracks, the affirmations, some of the verbal exercises, the breathing challenges and more.
But through the day — from early contractions to pushing — I honestly wanted nothing to do with my headphones, extraneous noise or anything routine. In the morning, as my contractions built, I truly felt like the right thing for me was to be relatively quiet, with harmless noise from the TV in the background. I talked to my mom about labor, but really we just sat together and smiled, talked about non-baby related things and rocked in the glider.
After getting to the hospital, the action really started to pick up. I had so much trouble concentrating that despite two half-hearted attempts to listen to the tracks, I couldn’t focus enough to make it worthwhile. In fact, just the sounds of the Hypnobabies instructor in my ears made me crazy (as did the feel of the earphones in my ears). So I went totally off-script and spent the hours of labor just willing it to go away (and pleading for the pain to stop).
In hindsight, I’m disappointed with the fact that I didn’t use Hypnobabies more during labor, but not in myself…I’m disappointed that my labor experience just didn’t lend itself to the nice, quiet, Zen experience I wanted. I didn’t really use, at least consciously, any of my breathing exercises or even try to count myself into hypnosis. I don’t think I could have, because all of my mental capacities were going to other things.
I’m a HUGE fan of Hypnobabies, but I don’t think the program is for everyone. It certainly can’t hurt, especially if you’re like me and could use some calm and quiet during pregnancy, and there are some test tracks you can download from the Hypnobabies website to see if they might be right for you.
P.S. I bought the program with my own money and was not asked to review it — I just thought it might be helpful to other moms!