GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Have you ever heard of hypnobirthing?
For some expecting mothers, it could be a way to help bring their new bundle of joy into the world.
Hypnobirthing isn't so much about what you've seen in the movies with someone swinging something in front of your face and making you go into a trance. It's more about learning techniques to calm you and dissolve any fears and hesitations you might have before giving birth.
"There's no stage hypnosis, so I'm not making anybody cluck like a chicken," said Ashley Forton, a certified birth doula and childbirth educator.
So what exactly is hypnobirthing?
"Hypnobirthing is a comprehensive childbirth class that focuses on releasing fears and anxieties about birth and kind of reprogramming your brain to look forward to birth and help you prepare to have a more calm and comfortable birth," Forton said.
Forton says it is a relatively new practice with the goal of making expecting mothers more confident about delivering their babies. Hypnobirthing uses a series of breathing exercises, concentration and visualization.
"We’re focusing on eliminating anxiety and fear from your subconscious mind and bringing in calm and relaxation because your body can function much more efficiently when it’s calm and relaxed,” she said.
Forton doesn't keep information on her students, saying that every birth is different. However, some studies show women who use hypnobirthing have quicker, less painful births, are less likely to need pain medications or C-sections and have a lower risk of post-partum depression.
“There are women who take hypnobirthing, the Mongan method classes, and they practice and they feel that they had a completely pain-free birth it’s possible," Forton said. "I don’t ever guarantee that for anyone because birth is unpredictable and everyone’s body’s different, but I can tell you that I’ve had clients who’ve had multiple children and then come take my class and have a very different experience after this."
Andrea Monk used hypnobirthing with her now 7 week old baby Juniper.
"A lot of people would remind me like it’s going to be really painful are you sure that you can do it and all of those negative comments really pushed the fear-based feelings and I think that after going through hypnobirthing I was like 'Okay, our bodies are designed to be capable of doing this, so I’m going to be okay,'" she said.
Monk, along with many other expecting mothers, have taken Forton's five-week course on hypnobirthing.
"We wanted to go as natural as possible," said expecting mother Kristin Sics. "So these are like techniques and strategies to help through the pain."
Whether your baby is born in a hospital or at home, naturally or by C-section, Forton says hypnobirthing can help with all types of arrivals. If you'd like more information on the courses, click here.