What's it like to give birth with the help of hypnosis? We asked four moms to share their hypnobirthing stories.

By Holly Pevzner
Ocean Photography/Veer

You've done your research, consulted your ob-gyn, read the books, and listened to the CDs. But when it comes to childbirth options like hypnobirthing, what you really want are nitty-gritty details from moms who tried it. Keep reading...

"My labor was far from pain-free."

Ashley Chisum, 27, Orange, California, mom to one

"I'm naturally drawn to meditation and yoga, so I thought hypnosis for childbirth was a good fit for me. It never hurts to learn positive thinking and relaxation skills, right? There was a lot of work involved. It was huge time commitment -- six weeks of classes -- plus homework. I didn't consistently do all of the daily homework and exercises, but I was really good about listening to my positive pregnancy affirmations CDs (which helped me to stay positive throughout my pregnancy -- I never had any anxiety about the birthing process) and used them when labor kicked in. The deep breathing and going limp and loose helped me tune into myself and calm down. And if I didn't have the practice of breathing deeply and relaxing through the contractions I never would have made it through my long and painful labor. In the end, I did have the natural water birth I wanted. I got to reach down and catch my own baby. It was such an unbelievably incredible experience. Learning hypnosis was totally worth it for me, even though my labor was far from pain-free."

"My hypnosis CDs may have annoyed everyone else, but I needed them."

Christine Dionese, 36, San Diego, California, mom of one "I've been meditating for over 15 years, so the idea of hypnobirthing wasn't new to me. I was so excited to practice it when I became pregnant. I took a class and read HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method one and a half times. There were visualization CDs, too. When birth day arrived, I was at home at the computer when I experienced a sudden warm, intense wave come over me. I immediately started using my HypnoBirthing techniques. First, I focused on breathing and a little bit of visualizing meeting my baby. Then I used my visualization CD that focused on going deeper and deeper within. It really worked. The visualization was all about eventually meeting my baby and getting a picture of this in my head. It's very powerful. I was in labor for seven hours, and at the very end someone asked if I wanted to turn off the CD. I remember yelling, "NO! Leave it on!" I think after hours of hearing the same meditation everyone but me was sick of it, but it was exactly what I needed to hear."

"I wanted something different for baby number four."

Carly Kerby, 32, Salt Lake City, Utah, mom of four

"I had three babies with the doctor who was on call, always someone I had never met before. So for my fourth baby, I went a whole new route: I got a midwife and tried HypnoBirthing. Having three kids already, you'd think I'd find the classes repetitive, but they weren't. I learned a ton. The positive philosophy taught me to not be afraid of labor, which is what I needed. I've always been a worrywart, so I loved the relaxation methods I learned. With this baby, I took deep breaths and counted while I was breathing. I focused on my calming place during surges. But after eight hours of labor we learned the baby was posterior -- she hadn't dropped at all, and it was becoming difficult to relax. So I opted for the epidural. HypnoBirthing helped make my decision easier. My mind was clear. I felt very connected to my baby and just knew the epidural was what I needed. It immediately relaxed my pelvis, and my daughter was born 10 minutes later. I felt really empowered and strong about my birth experience, even if I did need the epidural."

"I though hypnosis would be fail-proof."

Melissa Burke, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 29, mom of one

"I was wary about whether hypnosis would actually work, but I was excited to try. I took Hypnobabies classes with five other couples: We learned about childbirth, we watched Hypnobabies births, and we practiced hypnosis techniques like positive affirmation. My husband read scripts to me each night and I listened to positive affirmation CDs. Then my water broke at 36 weeks, 5 days, and I had no contractions. I was happy that I had preloaded all of my Hypnobabies tracks on to an iPod. I listened to them while my husband drove us to the hospital. I was in a relaxed state; I went to my "happy place" when I needed to find calm. But eventually, I was induced because I didn't have any contractions on my own. It was terrible. While the hypnosis techniques allowed me to fall asleep for a bit, in the end the Pitocin just made labor so difficult, and I got an epidural. Hypnobabies was imperative to my staying grounded, but, honestly, I thought it was fail-proof. I never read any stories of moms who used hypnosis but ended up getting epidurals."

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