By day, Esther Croft is all sandpits and messy play with her two young sons, by night she teaches couples that there IS a better way to birth using HypnoBirthing techniques.

Recently we have been getting lots of requests to talk more about what to do while you are pregnant, before you decided to get pregnant and and also what holistic approaches are available. Esther from Envisage HypnoBirthing in New Zealand has kindly written a two part series all about HypnoBirthing and in this post she touches on the history of how it came about.

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I always tell the story of how HypnoBirthing came about in my first class. It is such an important story for two reasons. The first because it reminds us that hypnosis is a completely natural state (no swinging watches here). And the second, it shows that when you relax and work with your body, birth can be gentle and even enjoyable.

How we were told we had to give birth…

The story first starts when Marie Mongan, the founder of HypnoBirthing, fell pregnant with her first child back in 1955. At the time, women were usually heavily sedated, and babies were forcibly removed using forceps. Marie felt that there must be a better way to birth. She knew that other mammals could give birth in relative comfort and instinctively felt that humans should be able to do the same.

Doing her research, she came across the work of Dr Grantly Dick-Read and his description of the Fear-Tension-Pain Syndrome. She learned that when you take the fear and anxiety out of birthing, and trust that your body is perfectly designed to give birth, you can give birth with minimal discomfort.

Marie Mongan, the birth of her first child…

As a first time mother she was ridiculed for believing that she would be able to birth without using pain medication. However, with full confidence in her body’s ability to birth, Marie had a lovely early labour, working with her body’s own endorphins to bring her baby all the way to crowning in complete comfort.

This unfortunately was where the gentle birth ended. The nurses, completely unaccustomed to seeing a calm woman give birth, were thrown into a panic when they were told that baby was arriving. Against her wishes, an ether cone was forced onto Marie’s face, and her baby was removed with forceps. Awaking feeling sick from the ether, she was told that she would be able to see her baby the next morning and not to be worried about the bruising on his face from the forceps.

Marie Mongan, taking control of how she wanted to give birth…

Marie’s second birth unfolded in much the same way, while she was easily able to bring her baby to crowning. The medical professionals took from her the opportunity to gently birth her baby as she had planned and she was understandably furious. For her third child Marie was determined to not let this happen again. She told her Dr that if he was not able to support her in her natural birth that she would seek another carer. She also took the unheard of step of demanding that her husband be present in the delivery suite. This time she was finally able to birth as she wanted, and had her completely natural birth with the birth of her daughter Maura. This was followed by the all natural birth of her fourth child a few years later.

How the pieces of HypnoBirthing came together…

It was only some years later, when Marie was working as a counsellor and trained in hypnotherapy, that she realised she had in fact used self-hypnosis during the births of her children. When her daughter Maura was pregnant with her first grandchild in 1989 Marie developed the formal training we now know as HypnoBirthing, and her grandson Kyle was the first ‘official’ baby born using the techniques. Since then, thousands of families across 45 countries have used HypnoBirthing to experience birthing the way nature intended it.