I’ve heard fascinating rumors about hypnobirth (are you in a trance? I wondered), so I asked three readers to share their experiences, and it blew my mind…

Jessica from Colorado

About hypnobirth: I ordered Hypnobabies online and did the five-week course at home. It’s not the type of hypnosis where a magician waves a watch in front of your eyes. Instead, it’s like when you’re driving for a long time, and you suddenly realize, oh my gosh, I’m home! Your eyes are open, you can walk around, but you create your own anesthesia. It totally works, it’s crazy.

During pregnancy: Every morning, I’d listen to the 30-minute affirmations CD while showering and getting dressed. You listen to thirty minutes of positive messages about your pregnancy, your baby and your body. Since you were a little girl, you’ve heard people say how terrible and painful birth is; and this CD helped me not worry and stress. The CD says things like, “My pregnancy is safe, my body knows how to birth a baby, I can do this…” I just wish I had one for everyday life!

You also learn to create a “bubble of peace.” So when my mom would say, “You’re going to have back labor since you’re having a boy,” I could visualize a bubble of peace around me, and any negative comments would bounce off my bubble. It’s like a little kid saying, I’m rubber, you’re glue. People tell you all their horror stories, so it was wonderful to have this technique. (I’d even tell my mom, “I’m bubble-of-peace-ing you right now!”)

During labor: I worried that I might be embarrassed to do hypnobabies in the hospital because people would think I was a weird hippie. But the hypnobabies course gives you sheets to tape on the hospital-room door explaining what hypnobirth is. The nurses were actually very supportive and interested. The words you use are also softer; for example, instead of saying contraction, you say “pressure wave.” Instead of labor, you say “birthing.”

During a pressure wave, you envision that you have a light switch, and you turn yourself off. You mentally say, ok, I’m turning off all the sensations to my body and letting myself relax. I did that the entire time. The nurses were surprised that I was so quiet and managing it, especially since I was having contractions and back labor.

During transition, I started getting scared and tired. My baby was actually sunny side up, so the back of his head was digging into my back every time I’d have a pressure wave. It was like, holy cow, this is getting intense. I’d tell my husband, you need to talk to me, and he’d just say, you need to turn your lightswitch off, and I was like, I don’t want to! So I listened to a fear-clearing CD that said, bring your fear up, we can discuss it and put it to rest. And once you do that, your fear goes away.

There’s also a pushing-the-baby-out CD that you play so everyone in the room can hear. It’s calm, versus cheerleader chanting; you can take deep breaths, just ease your baby out, push when you feel ready…

With a newborn: Once you bring your baby home, they also have CDs about naptime, breastfeeding, being a new mom. The affirmations say, ”I’m a good mother, I can get my sleep when I need to, my baby is safe, my baby is fine, I can handle this…” You repeat these affirmations and think OK, I can do this!

On using the techniques in everyday life: You learn a “Peace Cue,” where if you’re having any pain, you say, “Peace,” and you imagine that it directs your anesthesia to where your pain is. When I was pregnant, my back was often sore, so I’d lie down and say, “Peace,” and direct it to my back, and my pain would go away. I still use that technique. Recently I stubbed my toe, and I was like, ahh! Peace!

My husband’s take: At first, he was like you are so weird, this is totally hippie. And I was like, hey, if you don’t believe in me, it won’t work. And he was like, you know what, ok. He opened his mind. Now I hear him talking about it, and he’s like, I can’t believe so-and-so didn’t do hypnobabies! He really believes in it.

He also had own workbook to learn how to help calm me down and be a good birth partner. If there’s an emergency during the birth, your partner has a script to read to you, saying it will be ok, put all of your fears in this box, you can open this box later, but right now you need to focus on the now.

On recommending the program: Hypnobabies changed that way I thought about pregnancy and birth. It’s amazing how quickly you can learn how to create an anesethia in your body. It teaches you from head to toe, so you can direct it anywhere. It’s crazy, it really is. It’s so empowering to be able to say, I experienced my baby’s birth, I am woman, hear me roar, and this awesome!

Courtney from Virginia

I’m an anxious person by nature, so hypnobirth was really good for me. I read the book HypnoBirthing by Marie Mongan, the founder of hypnobirth. You’re encouraged to choose a few personal mantras, put them on notecards and paste them up in your bathroom or bedroom, so you see them all the time and really own them. It’s very affirming. My biggest one was, “I trust my body to know what to do.”

I’d recommend hypnobirth, even if you know you want an epidural. After all, you might labor for a long time before you get to the hospital, or your epidural might not work, or you might find yourself in an unpredictable situation. It’s endlessly fascinating how many different and beautiful ways there are to approach motherhood and birth.

Melanie from Nevada

Pregnancy is different for every woman. I hated it. I threw up 57 times a day! Hypnobirth gives you wonderful dedicated time during your pregnancy to think positive thoughts, relax and love your baby. I love that little fetus, but when you’re throwing up all the time, you’re like, oooh, fetus.

Birth is such a miraculous experience. During labor, they encourage you to envision something, so I envisioned holding my baby in my arms. After envisioning that for hours during labor, the moment I actually could hold her was truly amazing. I’d gladly give birth every year. It’s really hard but I have a positive association with it. When the baby is born, you feel tremendous joy. It’s like a runner’s high times a hundred.

What do you think? Would you try hypnobirth? Have you tried it in the past? I’d love to hear your thoughts! I’m so intrigued…

P.S. Toby’s birth story.

(Photo of me as a baby)