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Even five years ago, an expectant mother's friends might have thought she was crazy if she announced she was going to have her baby using a technique called Hypnobirthing. Millions of mothers, after all, avoid the pain of childbirth with epidurals

Over 12,000 Mothers Who Have Used the Mongan Method Say It Is

Over 12,000 mothers, however, have found a natural way to avoid the pain of labor and childbirth through the Mongan method, especially after the widely publicized alternative birthing methods used by superstars Katie Holmes and Angelina Jolie.

The Mongan Method is the brainchild of Marie "Mickey" Mongan, a professional licensed hypnotherapist and New Hampshire college dean. Mickey Mongan often tells the story of how she used self-hypnosis to deliver all four of her children without pains of childbirth, approximately 50 years ago. Building on the ideas of Grantly Dick-Read and Dr. Jonathan Dye popularized in the 1940's, Mongan was able to devise a technique that enabled her to give birth without any pain medication, her husband at her side throughout the process.

How the Mongan Method Works

Dr. Mongan's method, called Hypnobirthing, begins with substantial training in the possibilities for childbirth. A fundamental concept taught to both the mother to be and the birthing partner (who may be male or female) is that childbirth does not have to be accompanied by pain. Dr. Mongan's method does not teach any specific methods to avoid pain, but instead offers abdominal breathing and total relaxation techniques as a way actually to enjoy the experience of giving birth.

Hypnobirthing also teaches expectant mothers how to bond with their babies. By talking to, singing to, and feeling the movements of the baby throughout pregnancy, advocates of the method claim, mothers bond with their child even before the baby is born.

Reversing a Trend Toward "Medicalized" Childbirth

Teachers of Hypnobirthing are seeking to reverse a decades-old trend toward medically induced pain relief during childbirth. In the 1940's and 1950's, a British method called Childbirth without Fear and the Lamaze Method, devised by French physician Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze, offered women an alternative to childbirth to millions of women who previously had prospects of giving birth with no pain relief at all.

It was not until the 1970's and 1980's that depiction of childbirth in films and television was considered socially acceptable. When births were finally shown in TV dramas, they were almost always portrayed as dangerous and painful.

 At the same time, more and more women became understandably skeptical of birthing methods designed by men, or even directed by men, such as the Bradley Method of Husband-Coached Childbirth. By 2000, most women taking prenatal care classes were more interested in touring surgical suites and asking questions about epidurals, than in taking classes with their partners in methods for self-directed pain control.

No Guarantee of Pain-Free Childbirth

The appeal of Dr. Mongan's method is that it teaches that childbirth does not have to be painful. This is very different from constantly reminding mothers to be aware of the potential for pain and the need to learn breathing exercises to control it.  Mongan does not say that every woman who takes her classes will deliver a child without any labor pains, only that some women do.

Some women who take Mongan classes, however, even report a physically pleasing experience. Cindi Braby, the author of the book A Utah Mom's Life, wrote that she was so deep in self-hypnosis during delivery that she was aware of her surroundings, but only felt her child, not her own pain.
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