How HypnoBirthing Works

Based on the belief that birth is natural and healthy, HypnoBirthing uses mind over matter to erase pain.

Waterbirth and acupuncture offer methods to help women cope with pain during pregnancy and labor, but HypnoBirthing experts say, “What pain?”

“There is no pathological reason for pain in childbirth. There is nothing that actually malfunctions. It’s tension and fear and interventions that cause the malfunctioning,” says Marie Mongan, founder of HypnoBirthing and author of HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method: A natural approach to a safe, easier, more comfortable birthing.

A certified hypnotherapist, Mongan founded HypnoBirthing in 1989 and has since certified 1,500 practitioners in the method. Her organization now gives out as many as 400 referrals a week, numbers that have more than doubled over the past five years. Hospitals and members of the medical community are now recognizing the program and sending staff to be trained and certified, according to Mongan.

What is HypnoBirthing?

HypnoBirthing is based on the belief that birth is natural, normal and healthy, not a medical incident. HypnoBirthing therapists teach women how to self-hypnotize and use very slow breathing methods – “no huffing and puffing” – that coincide with the body’s natural “surges,” otherwise known as contractions.

“We teach them to actually relax their body to the point it can work the way it was designed to work,” Mongan says.


A key element is teaching pregnant mothers a whole new childbirth vocabulary:

  • Babies are not “delivered,” they are “birthed” through the “birthing process,” not “labor.”

  • And moms do not “push” their babies out. Rather they “breathe down” their babies.

“Language has a physiological effect on the way we think of things,” says LuAnne Daly, a certified hypnotherapist trained in HypnoBirthing. “Energy follows thought. If we control our thought, then we keep the energy where we want it.”

Success Stories

While pregnant with her daughter, Daly took Mongan’s classes and only experienced pain twice during her labor and delivery.

“A wave (or surge) came over me while I was in this upset place and I thought I’d been hit by a ton of bricks,” Daly recalls. “I thought, if this is what most people feel, no wonder childbirth has such a bad reputation.” She quickly recovered and went on to a pain-free delivery, she says.

Daly now teaches other women HypnoBirthing techniques. Karlon Kepcke learned from Daly and used HypnoBirthing to deliver her son.

“It doesn’t take away pain, but I was able to remove myself from the pain,” Kepcke says. “I was in a very peaceful place. My mind and my psychic energy weren’t going into pain.”

Return to Alternative Birthing Methods.