Australian resident and hypnobirthing practitioner Melissa Ayling didn’t make it to the hospital on time.
Instead, she gave birth to a baby boy in the passenger seat of her car…
… without any pain relief – but using her hypnobirthing skills.
Amazing? In one sense, perhaps.
But hypnobirthing is becoming a lot more common than you might think.
It’s transforming the process of giving birth, making it less painful and helping to make motherhood a more positive experience.
So if you want to know how to become a hypnobirthing practitioner, the optimum time is now.
The practice is booming worldwide, and midwives predict it will be part of standard antenatal preparation by the mid-2020s.
If you’re into hypnosis, then you already have a head start on the game.
But how can you tell if hypnobirthing is the right career path for you?
Hypnobirthing As An Emerging Career Trend
Twenty years ago, a water birth was unusual, seen as weird, and viewed with skepticism.
Now, water-birthing is becoming a common practice, merely another choice available to expectant mothers.
And in another few years, hypnobirthing will be just as mainstream and will be a standard part of antenatal practice.
The technique is growing fast and emerging as a hot career trend all across the globe.
But where did it come from?
The roots of hypnobirthing can be traced back to the work of the early 20th-century British obstetrician Dr. Grantly Dick-Reid.
He noted that no other animal species experiences fear while giving birth, except humans.
This feeling of fear activates the fight-or-flight response, draining blood away from the uterus and starving it of oxygen. Dr. Dick-Reid concluded that fear was responsible for most of the pain women experienced during childbirth.
Get rid of the fear, and you get rid of the pain.
His work was picked up by the French obstetrician Michel Odent in the 1980s, who subsequently introduced birthing pools in his Parisian clinic and encouraged women to give birth in any position they felt comfortable with.
The cause has been taken up by midwives and mothers who felt that giving birth should be easier and less of a terrifying event.
One such person was Marie Mongan, founder of the HypnoBirthing Institute and the author of her book HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method.
Mongan recalls how she got caught up in the hospital protocols of the day. When her first baby was due, she told the nurse on duty that she wanted to have a natural delivery.
The nurse simply smirked and said that she would soon be “screaming like the rest of them”.
Before long she was lying on a hard, surgical couch with her legs in stirrups and wrists strapped down, a chloroform mask over her face.
When she came round there was a baby lying in the crib next to her with forceps marks on its head.
Such stories make it easy to see why expectant mothers were looking for better and more natural ways to bring new life into the world.
And if you know anything about hypnosis, there are some incredibly powerful reasons why its use in this context makes perfect sense.
According to Emma Harwood-Jones, founder of Together Birthing, hypnosis encourages the release of oxytocin, which relaxes the muscles around the cervix, and endorphins, the body’s built-in painkillers said to be 200 times more powerful than morphine.
Katherine Graves, the founder of KG Hypnobirthing, says that hypnobirthing’s growth in the UK is nothing short of a revolution. She adds that its rapid growth is due to a strong midwifery profession in Britain and the power of word-of-mouth advertising.
Knowing all this, then, should you become a hypnobirthing practitioner?
Who Should Consider Becoming A Hypnobirthing Practitioner?
The term “hypnobirthing” was coined by Michelle Leclaire O’Neill in her 2000 book Hypnobirthing the Original Method.
It involves using hypnosis techniques to provide a pain-free and fear-free childbirth.
These include breathing and visualization exercises, self-hypnosis, meditation and other techniques, all designed to reduce anxiety and eliminate negative thoughts in the unconscious mind.
O’Neill is a Ph.D. and a registered nurse, but you can become a hypnobirthing practitioner by approaching it from a number of different angles.
Obviously, if you’re learning or practicing hypnosis, then you’ve already got a lot of the tools you need.
You might also consider going into the hypnobirthing field if you have a background in natural childbirth or psychology.
Fully accredited courses are offered in many countries to anyone who might be interested in learning.
According to the HypnoBirthing International website based in the US, the training is available to doctors, nurses, healthcare providers, childcare educators, hypnotherapists, yoga instructors, massage therapists and “all others with an interest in maternal health and birthing”.
In the UK, The Hypnobirthing Association offers a 6-day intensive training course (accredited by the Royal College of Midwives) leading to a diploma and association membership.
An article in Obs Gynae & Midwifery News claims that the number of couples taking hypnobirthing courses grew from 6 couples a month in 2012 to 84 a month in 2016.
That’s a fourteenfold increase. And all the evidence suggests that this growth trend is set to continue.
You don’t need any experience to sign up for the training. But if it interests you, and you’re already doing hypnosis, it could be the next logical step on your hypnosis career ladder.
So how do you go about it?
How To Become A Hypnobirthing Practitioner?
Before jumping in at the deep end and signing up for a course, you need to ensure that you’ll be able to practice wherever you live.
To find out, check the laws in your state or country. What’s legal and morally acceptable in one area might not necessarily be the same all over.
If there are no legal or professional barriers, the next step is to do some research. Hypnobirthing training is available in at least 45 countries worldwide, so you should be able to find qualified teachers near you.
In order to become a certified hypnobirthing practitioner, you need to gain a certificate or diploma from a recognized training establishment.
There are plenty of courses available from a variety of institutions. Many of these have their own website, and below you’ll find a list with links and details about what some of them have to offer.
The Hypnobirthing Association
This is a UK provider that also offers courses internationally. They say that their training is the “training of choice” for midwives and other professionals in the field of birthing.
The training offered is called KG HypnoBirthing, a 6-day intensive course of modules taught by subject specialists, leading to the KG Hypnobirthing Diploma and “professional membership of the HypnoBirthing Association”.
As mentioned above, this course has been accredited by the Royal College of Midwives, a respected professional body concerned with the birth process in the whole of the UK.
The HypnoBirthing Association was set up to offer training in hypnobirthing and to provide public listings for qualified teachers, making it easy for mothers-to-be to locate quality courses in their area.
This is the US arm of the Hypnobirthing International organization specializing in the Mongan Method.
They offer training to become a HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator, a 4-day workshop leading to certification.
They offer you the chance to become a Certified Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner.
You’ll also receive advice and training on setting up your hypnobirthing business and on how to engage and educate parents.
So the only remaining question is, what kind of money can a hypnobirthing practitioner earn?
Average Rates For Hypnobirthing Practitioners
According to Which?, the UK company that tests and rates products and services for consumers, hypnobirthing sessions can cost between £200 and £400. This charge includes the classes, DVDs, books, and any other resources provided for parents and birthing mothers.
In 2010, the Mongan method on Hypnobirthing sessions in the US was running at approximately $275-350, depending on location and provider.
The range of prices probably relates to how you work. If you’re part of a global organization like HypnoBirthing International, then there are going to be massive overheads which will be reflected in the price.
If you run your own hypnosis practice and offer hypnobirthing as part of your portfolio, then your costs can reflect this.
Either way, the potential to earn a decent living exists. Add to that the fact that you’ll be using your hypnosis skills as a force for good in the world, and everyone’s a winner.
In the next section, Sharon Mustard, hypnobirthing expert, licensed psychotherapist, and founder of Easibirthing and Mustard Therapy UK shares her journey and experience as a certified hypnobirthing practitioner.
Q & A with A Hypnobirthing Practitioner (Sharon Mustard, Easibirthing)
1. What inspired you to become a hypnobirthing practitioner?
I qualified as a hypnotherapist and psychotherapist 25 years ago and while hypnobirthing was in its infancy back then, my passion was to work with pregnancy and parenthood as a specialization.
I owe this inspiration to two things: I was born and raised in Northern Ireland to a very large fertile family– one of 43 first cousins! Also, my father was a pig farmer so being fascinated by birth was an integral part of my childhood.
Given my family history and having successfully used hypnobirthing in the births of my own 3 children, I wanted to have the opportunity I had to have a positive birth– managing their unique experience, and not fearing it.
In my role as a hypnotherapist, empowering expectant moms to trust their body so they’ll enter labor feeling calm, confident, and in control. Which is the best feeling in the world.
2. How long was your training course and did you need any additional training or qualifications to become a professional hypnobirthing practitioner?
The National College of Hypnosis and Psychotherapy (NCHP) is the only UK hypnobirthing model that will only train already qualified hypnotherapists with a grounding not just in the hypnotic state.
But in concepts such as emotional abreaction and critical factor bypass hypnobirthing training exists as a CPD course for those whose already have the prerequisite knowledge and expertise to practice professionally and ethically.
The CPD training is 14 hours (or 2 days if completed all at once). On the aspect of birthing knowledge required for effective intervention with clients, it is crucial to remember that we are not training to be childbirth experts, but experts on hypnosis for childbirth.
I personally believe that hypnobirthing training should be adding specialized knowledge and techniques to the toolbox and repertoire of already being a practicing hypnotherapist.
3. After you completed your training, how did you go about getting your first hypnobirthing clients? Do you have any recommendations for others just starting out?
There are many opportunities in the world out there but I believe success comes from employing the 6 P’s: Passion, Purpose, Persistence, Professionalism, Probity, Personality; which when aligned create successful performance in our therapy practices.
As with any aspect of hypnotherapy, the question we need to be asking is not whether there is enough demand for our services (after 23 years running a full-time private practice, believe me, there is!). But how we commit ourselves fully to accessing the client groups we want to market to.
Whilst our primary motivations as therapists will be to help people, we should not make apologies for needing to run a successful business.
We are not going to be able to help people if we cannot sustain an income that allows us to continue helping.
In hypnobirthing, pregnancy is the number one reason for women consulting their GP in the UK (incidentally fertility issues are number 2, an area where hypnosis also has a wealth of evidence proving its effectiveness).
When our Easibirthing practice started, we spoke at midwives regular meetings, offered to provide free talks at NHS antenatal classes, and NCT meetings.
We were soon offered NHS funding to run introductory relaxation and breathing workshops for women and birth partners.
The participants of these workshops fed through to our private hypnobirthing group courses.
My advice would be to think outside the box: toddler groups, nurseries, even primary schools all have a high number of women expecting second or subsequent babies.
They will be even more open to the idea of hypnobirthing if they have had traumatic births first time round.
My single, most important piece of advice would be, don’t be disheartened if one door closes, another one will open if you are persistent in looking for it!
4. How many sessions do you usually offer expecting moms before they give birth?
We offer 5 x 90 minutes sessions. Birth partners are highly encouraged to attend if they are able to.
However, we would never exclude women who are coming on their own or can attend less than the full course (there are hypnobirthing models which do this!).
We work on the principle that some hypnobirthing training is better than no hypnobirthing training.
Our clients can attend a group course or one-to-one sessions in our offices or via video link. We see individuals and couples from all over the world go for hypnobirthing.
5. What are some of the biggest fears/issues you help expecting moms overcome using hypnobirthing?
Childbirth (and pregnancy) is not a medical process– it is a natural physiological process.
However, our culture teaches us that it is very much the opposite.
For many generations we have been told that delivering a baby is many hours of painfully agonizing work, to be faced with fear and trepidation.
Many of the fears I witness women have about childbirth stem from this negative social conditioning.
They often worry about long, painful labor that they may be unable to cope with, about complications affecting their baby’s and their own welfare, need for intervention such as induction or a C-section.
A severe form of fear of childbirth is known as tokophobia which can be fuelled by a fear of death or of re-traumatization following past sexual abuse.
6. If you don’t mind sharing some of the details, what’s been your most beautiful or profound experience as a hypnobirthing practitioner?
Our motto at Easibirthing® is changing expectations and challenging attitudes one birth at a time.
We talk about the birth of a mother and the birth of a father, while you as a parent is the real you, it is a part of you that hasn’t existed before.
To play a small part in facilitating this transition to the new phase in their lives and witness women and birth partners transform with confidence in themselves and their bodies is both beautiful and profound.
I feel the only fitting way to capture the magic of the moment of birth is to borrow one mum’s words:
“I have never felt so powerful. I felt like I could conquer the world! I was loving it all! Amazing– nothing could have prepared me for such a beautiful experience & to have the opportunity to deliver and meet my baby without any sense of fear of the process was incredible.”
Interestingly, it is often when couples experience things not going according to plan but remain calm, confident, and in control that really shows the true effectiveness of hypnobirthing.
7. And lastly, do you have any advice for aspiring hypnobirthing practitioners who are considering it as a career path?
Just do-it! You will never look back!
However, I would definitely recommend choosing wisely training in a hypnobirthing model that recognizes and values your expertise and level of qualification as a hypnotherapist.
There are many courses out there that will train non-hypnotherapists who don’t fully understand the scope of hypnobirthing beyond simple relaxation.
When practiced by a trained expert, you will be able to harness the true power and inner strength of birthing women, often of an intensity that they never previously recognized in themselves!
With all the medical breakthroughs and trends in childbirth, society has conditioned women to rely on medical processes rather than trusting their own bodies to bring life into this world.
Due to issues of malpractice in hospitals and rising mental health problems among pregnant women, advocates of natural birth made way for hypnobirthing. It has also become an emerging trend in recent years.
At its core, hypnobirthing practitioners aim to help women get in-tuned with their mind and bodies for them to deal with fear and anxiety around birth. The goal is also for clients to have an empowering and conscious birth.
Hypnobirthing can be a promising career path for hypnotists who want to specialize in helping out mothers bring life into this world, thus being a force for good in the world.