The Mongan Method of HypnoBirthing is a series of techniques utilized by a mother in labor to reduce, or even eliminate, the pain of labor by invoking positive effect language selection, the use of self hypnosis and removing anxiety increasing elements from birthing process. It is a technique developed in the late 1980s by Mickey Mongan based on the principle that birthing is a natural process that a woman’s body was designed to accommodate and not a medical emergency that required the intervention of doctors and medication. As proof of her theories Mongan presented the preponderance of births throughout history and in contemporary nations that were not attended by doctors or required the use of expensive or harmful medications and techniques. HypnoBirthing is a practice that has it’s critics, but works remarkably well.
We chose it because the class fit into our schedule.
The center through which we contacted our midwife, recommend taking one of the several classes they offered on labor. The many classes used different techniques to help the mother mitigate the pain and discomfort of child birth. Since neither one of us are cool with pain or discomfort, and we’d never had a baby, we figured it sounded like a good idea to get some additional education on the matter. Cameron looked at the schedule and reported that most of the classes were only offered later in the evening on weekdays and took several weeks to complete.
Some classes were offered on the weekends, but again, last several weeks. With our sometimes hectic schedules, devoting several weekends in a row wasn’t something that would work for either of us.
One class stood out though. HypnoBirthing was offered as a single day intensive training session. It was a nine hour course, and I suspected it would be mind numbing drivel, but taking it all in at once seemed preferable to stretching the agony out over several weeks. I likened it to be similar to tearing a band-aid off in one swift motion, rather than slowly peeling it back. I was counting on the trauma and shock to numb me into a state of willing information absorption.
Cameron seemed keen on the class. Like the brilliant and prepared student she is, she acquired a copy of the text book and read it prior to the class. I elected instead to read several old Batman issues and a collection of Alan Moore’s run on WildC.A.T.S. I was never a very good student, and I really saw no reason to modify a work ethic that had served me so well in the past.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the class, but I had my suspicions that it would involve some sitting around on bean bags and maybe some chanting. My expectations were very low, so when the instructor began by claiming she was not a hippy, did not eat granola and disliked the odor of patchouli, I’m sure she was attempting to address my unspoken concerns. That she gave the speech while barefoot, in a room decorated with prayer rugs that eschewed a door for a curtain with bells attached to it, and started the class thirty minutes late with no real apology or seemingly even understanding of the concept of punctuality did little to assuage my concerns. Besides, what was wrong with granola?
Any fears I had of this being some sort of wacked out hippy indoctrination program ended when she ordered pizza from Dominoes for lunch. I know hippies. Hippies eat better than this.
Four hours in, with my stomach rumbling over the last acidic remnants of the pizza, I was sure I wouldn’t make it. I attempted to check out by slouching down in my chair and nodding off, but Cameron kicked me. I didn’t think that was very kind, but I guess if she was going to have to go through labor, the least I could do was stay awake.
It wasn’t that the material was boring, or even that I found it distasteful. Quite the opposite in fact, the Mongan Method makes a lot of sense to me. It relies on the simple concept that a woman is genetically designed to make babies come out, and that the majority of problems related to child birth are the result of us enculturating the concept of labor as a medical emergency in combination with all the stressors we introduce. By engaging in selective vocabulary that removes negative connotations, and practicing a few basic principles of self hypnosis, the event can be remarkably less stressful than the medical and insurance industry would like us to believe.
Villainizing the medical establishment is a sure fire way to get me invested in your idea, especially if you lump in insurance companies. Unfortunately, that’s really all we seemed to be doing. The instructor would introduce a topic speak on it for a few minutes and then present an empirical anecdote to reinforce the idea. Her anecdotes were followed by other people’s anecdotes and before long we’d digressed far from the subject and were bitching about doctors and hospitals. Like angry war chiefs dancing around a fire, each of us would take a turn telling a story about how much we hated hospitals and why, only to raise the ire of the person across the fire from us. This would go on for more than an hour. It was less like a class and more like an interactive episode of Oprah Winfrey.
Which is all well and good, but I don’t want to watch Oprah for nine hours, especially after I’ve had to eat Dominoes. When it was all said and done, I think we spent about two hours reviewing course material and seven shit talking the medical industry. Cameron complained that she got more out of reading the book than she did from attending the class and had been hoping that the class provide the opportunity to expand on the techniques in the class and provide an opportunity to practice them. It sounds like a fair criticism, but then, I didn’t read the book.