HypnoBirthing: No Swinging Watch or Pain

"It's not a magic pill," Drake said. "You have to decide early in your pregnancy and start working out like a marathon for the brain."

"It's not so much to escape your birth and go into la, la land, but to deeply connect with what your body is doing," she said. "You need to offset the awake-alert state you are in."

For this baby, she is looking forward to the involvement of her husband, who will also train in using key comfort words or touching "anchors" and light massage to help Drake trigger her own pain-killing endorphins.

The father is seen more as a "birth companion, not a coach," according to Mongan. "It's not an athletic event."

Because the process is so calming, with soft lighting and music, babies are often delivered more quickly, according to Mongan.

One Florida woman labored so quickly, she birthed alone before help arrived.

"Her body was actually laboring while sleeping and she woke up early in the morning and felt something strange and her membranes released," Mongan said.

"She realized the baby was right there," said Mongan. "She calmly brought it into the world and shortly thereafter the midwife arrived. It just shows you how natural birthing can be."

Mongan's own children, now grown, were born with a "minimum of pain." The first labor took two and a half hours, the next was two, then 90 minutes and the last in under one hour.

"I went through until the baby was crowning and I had to tell [the medical team] I was ready," she said. "They didn't believe I was doing everything because I wasn't screaming and carrying on."

Later, after getting a master's degree in counseling, she added self-hypnosis to the technique.

"It was the same euphoric experience when I was birthing, but I didn't know what it was," she said. "For me it was blind faith."

Her daughter, Maura Geddes was her first HypnoBirthing patient in 1990.

The Concord, N.H., hospital was so impressed that they wanted to learn more about how Geddes had controlled her own pain. They eventually offered classes on the technique.

"Early on from the time my water broke, I knew to relax and breathe," said Geddes, now 50 of Bow, N.H. "I had my son very fast -- five hours from the time the water broke."

A doctor from the nearby Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center watched the process and was "amazed," according to Geddes.

The breathing differs from other natural childbirth techniques. 'It's more like medication and you are in such a relaxed state you can go almost limp," said Mongan.

In 1992, Mongan self-published her book, "HypnoBirthing: Taking the Birthing World By Calm," which was later changed to "The Mongan Method." Today, it is printed in several languages.

When a C-Section is Required

HypnoBirthing works hand in hand with conventional medicine.

Susan Parr, a mother of two from South Portland, Maine, and a professional counselor, tried HypnoBirthing with her second daughter, who is now 8.

"After having a planned c-section with my first child, who was breech, I was really determined to experience labor and delivery in a positive way," said Parr, who is 44. "I was really disappointed about not being able to experience labor the first time -- -it felt so cold and sterile."

For the first 17 hours, Parr had an "amazing labor" and "totally at peace," but after three hours of pushing, she was told the baby was in distress and needed an emergency C-section.

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