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Why Are Women Trying to Hypnotize Themselves During Childbirth?

For most women, labor is unimaginably painful. According to practitioners of HypnoBirthing, it doesn't have to be.

Eight expecting couples sit circling a dimly lit room one Tuesday evening in Berkeley, California. Brightly painted plaster casts of pregnant torsos hang on the wall.


"When I tell people I'm a hypnotherapist, they almost always make the joke where they ask me to make them bark like a dog or dance like a chicken," says Kathy Woo, a certified hypnotherapist and HypnoBirthing childbirth educator, to the group assembled for her class.

Tonight, there are no such parlor tricks. Instead, she's going through breathing and visualization techniques for the pregnant mothers to practice in the weeks leading up to childbirth. When the day comes, Woo's pupils hope to use these techniques to put themselves into a state of hypnosis while they are in labor.

Hypno Birthing's grand promise is its potential to reduce or even eliminate the "birthing mama's" pain. According to class materials, HypnoBirthing is as much a "philosophy" as it is a technique, complete with its own vocabulary. Instead of contractions, you will hear about "surges," "sensation" instead of pain, "birth breathing" instead of pushing. The materials encourage parents-to-be to learn "to think and speak in the kinder softer word substitutions" so they can "truly embrace the concept of gentle, normal birth."

Source: Lacy Roberts

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