Hypnobirthing, Cats, and Childbirth

Ok, bear with me here. I'm sure you're thinking, "What the heck do cats have to do with labor?" And in that case, I'd guess that you've never read Hypnobirthing. This classic birth preparation book is really valuable, and I recommend it to expectant moms that ask for opinion. I tell them that it will help them to trust in the process of labor - but I also tell them that they should realize that birth is a precarious place, and things don't always go as planned. I'm a control freak, so I know exactly how hard it is to hear those words, especially about something so important like childbirth.

Mamastay in labor!

Created by Marie Mongan, and sometimes called the Mongan Method, hypnobirthing focuses on making birth a peaceful and positive experience. Mongan asserts that women have a learned fear of childbirth because of how it's portrayed in pop culture and mom-horror-story-swaps. She uses an illustration of her first moments of curiosity around birth. As a child, Mogan watched her cat give birth and realized that the cat seemed almost non-plussed by the whole affair. Their body relaxed and the kittens seemed to almost come out with no effort whatsoever from the mama cat. So, Mongan applied her method of relaxed or meditative birth (coined "Hypnobirthing") to her daughter. Together they practiced entering a meditative state, and when her daughter went into labor, she stayed calm and serene and didn't even push her baby out. No, apparently she just "breathed" her baby out.

Look, her mascara didn't even run.

Now, physiologically, I understand how these things could feasibly happen. But I've given birth twice, and I'm a tough broad. And I still don't know how a person could stay quiet during the intensity of transition. I guess I'll never be in Scientology!

While I appreciate Mongan's intent - to make birth less of a scary unknown to new moms - I think she could maybe do a better job of sharing complete information. That is to say: birth is generally pretty standard. But, when things get complicated, the consequences can be dire. No amount of calm or meditative chanting will stave off pre-eclampsia or postpartum hemorrhage. There is no "just relax and let your body open" for a birth with shoulder dystocia. My fear is that Hypnobirthing overgeneralizes the labor experience so much, that moms who have a more complicated birth might feel that their bodies are inadequate in some way. Or, that their body failed them in birth, because they didn't just let a spasm expel their baby like cats do.

Now I'm just using this as an excuse to look at cute pictures of babies and kittens.

The last thing I think Mongan wanted to do was give women a tumultuous relationship with their own bodies. Instead, she meant to empower women to trust that birth is often unremarkable in how common and ordinary most births are. But that's only half the story. As someone who wants to make labor and birth the focus of her life's work, I don't want to leave the rest left unsaid. So, know this, women: you're far more complex than a cat - and so is human birth.


Have you read "Hypnobirthing"? Did it help you have a more peaceful birth? Have you ever thought that childbirth was as easy as delivery is for cats? Tell me more @pi3sugarpi3

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