Before you sign up for a hypnosis-centered birth course, read this.

By Holly Pevzner
BananaStock/ Jupiter

Here's the deal: You can't learn hypnosis in one down-to-the-wire cram-session. What you need to know about hypnosis-centered birth classes.

The gist: Hypnosis-centered birthing classes, such HypnoBirthing and Hypnobabies, are not just about hypnosis. You garner a lot of the same info you would from a standard so-you're-having-a-baby class, such as the physiology of birth and newborn care. Hypno-classes, however, are clearly different: "HypnoBirthing is a complete childbirth education class that focuses on teaching moms techniques of deep relaxation and preparing her partner to guide her throughout labor," says Maeva Althaus, a certified HypnoBirthing practitioner who offers private and group classes in New York City. Many of the techniques revolve around affirmations, visualizations, calming and centering scripts, and deep, restorative breathing. In addition, there's an intense focus on releasing fear of labor and birth with the help of knowledge and more positive language. You won't hear "You're only four centimeters dilated." Instead, you'll hear, "You're already four centimeters!" Instead of contraction you'll hear surge or wave. Instead of false labor you'll hear practice labor. Instead of pain, you'll hear pressure or sensation. "We don't want language to help feed fears," Althaus says.

The commitment: HypnoBirthing courses consist of five 2 1/2-hour classes and daily homework. Another popular option, Hypnobabies, runs more than six weeks and each session is three hours. (An available home study course takes five weeks.) Again, there's regular homework.

The start time: "I usually recommend that parents-to-be start around 20 weeks," Althaus says. "The more time to practice, the better!"

The cost: A hypno-focused birthing course (complete with workbook and CDs) can cost between $275 and $350, depending on location and provider. Although it may be pricier than the standard childbirth course, it is covered by many flexible spending accounts. Check with your insurance provider.

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