Mongan Method for Hypnobirth
Known as the “Mongan Method” after its creator, Marie Mongan, hypnobirthing is a form of hypnosis birth with the aim of teaching a birthing mother to shift the way she perceives labor and delivery sensations. While modern medicine offers a variety of pain reduction options, from injections of narcotics to epidural and spinal blocks, in hypnobirth the physical experience of dilation, the baby’s movement down the birth canal, the stretching of the perineum, crowning, and vaginal delivery are all carefully treated as sensations to be experienced not as agony to be suppressed or medicated but as pressure or stretching.
Self-hypnosis is a well-known and well-studied phenomenon, and has been applied to natural childbirth education since the 1920s. Mongan refers to an early 20th century obstetrician, Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, who championed natural childbirth education for all women, advocating medication-free births. His basic argument, the center of Mongan’s hypnobirthing philosophy, follows a series of beliefs:
- Childbirth does not have to be extremely painful.
- Pain comes from the fear response.
- Reducing or eliminating fear can reduce or eliminate pain.
- Hypnobirthing or hypnosis birth can stop the fear-pain cycle.
Hypno birth, then, focuses on training techniques and natural childbirth education that gives women and their partners tools to handle hypnosis birth and to reduce or eliminate pain. But does it work?
Natural Childbirth Education
The Mongan method incorporates books, classes, and a website all devoted to intense training and “deprogramming” from cultural expectations of labor and delivery. For instance, Mongan argues that in modern western society there is an expectation that birth is excruciatingly painful. In societies where this is not the case, she says, women do not experience as much pain. Natural childbirth education along the lines of hypno birth works to deprogram and decouple pain and birth, through chapters on the physiology of labor and how blood flow affects pain in the uterus and cervix.
Other lessons include the use of massage to manage hypnosis birth, with the birthing partner a very active participant in labor and delivery. Using visual cues, helping to change position, managing props such as birthing balls, squat bars, stools, and more, the focus in hypnobirth zeroes in on the mind and its ability to change how the experience of labor and delivery is perceived as a series of sensations in the moment, rather than as pain.
Research conducted by the Hypnobirthing Institute states that in a study of more than 1,000 mothers using hypnobirth from 2016 to 2013, the Cesarean section rate was 15.5 percent among mothers using hypnosis birth techniques, compared to the national average of 30.2 percent.
Many women come to hypnosis birth after having a labor and delivery experience that was less than optimal. Mongan’s Hypnobirthing offers concrete skills the pregnant woman can develop, with an intense role for the partner as well. This active participation appeals to many women, as does the possibility of foregoing pain medication or procedures that may limit a woman’s movement and position changes during labor and delivery.
With hypnosis birth many laboring mothers find they can use a jacuzzi tub, walking, birthing balls, and other relaxation techniques and position changes to handle different labor phases in a way that is difficult, impossible, or not permitted under specific hospital policies at labor and delivery units. For this reason, hypnobirthing is gaining in popularity, with hundreds of training classes in the United States alone each year.
Even mothers who may require a Cesarean section can find the techniques valuable for reducing fear and for increasing bonding. Whatever birthing choice pregnant women choose, hypnobirthing is one more option in the pool of choices. While hypnosis birth may not be right for every pregnant couple, the Mongan method can be a useful tool for those considering natural childbirth education.