As another contraction comes on — but
it isn’t called a contraction here; it’s termed a “pressure
wave” — the woman closes her eyes and speaks quietly. Counts.
When she holds her baby in her arms
sometime later, having delivered the baby without the use of an
epidural, a nurse inevitably has the same comment:
“Wow, you have a high pain
The new mom’s response: “It was my
Some women swear by “Hypnobabies,”
a program that teaches women to use self-hypnosis — which they
describe as a natural state of being that humans experience every
day, whether they are aware of it or not — to work their way
through childbirth with, in many cases, significantly less pain and
A new six-week
Hypnobabies session is being offered starting Aug. 3 by Dr. Jenna
Anthofer, a chiropractor at the Healing Arts Center at 715 N. Clark
St. The center offers chiropractic services, acupuncture, laser
therapy, hormone testing and foot bath detox. The Hypnobabies class,
however, is Anthofer’s venture and is not a service of the Healing
Arts Center, although it is being held at those offices.
Anthofer, who is pregnant herself and
plans to use the Hypnobabies process during her own birth, has
completed training and is certified to teach Hypnobabies; she
currently is teaching the class to her husband, Craig, and her doula,
Lindsey Coyne of Jefferson. A doula provides assistance and emotional
support during a birth.
Anthofer will offer another set of
classes for expectant Carroll-area mothers starting Aug. 3.
To start off a class with Craig and
Coyne July 6, Anthofer led them through a relaxing hypnosis session,
having them close their eyes and bow their heads to leave behind the
day’s stressful moments and prepare for the class.
Much of the class then went through
some of the physical processes of birth and what expectant mothers
can expect — and why they shouldn’t let worry run away with them.
More often than not, worry is unwarranted, Anthofer said as she led
“Our imaginative but unrealistic
frontal lobes are simply fantasizing about a catastrophic event,”
Anthofer learned about Hypnobabies
while working as an intern; she met a patient, who later became a
friend, who had undergone the program and swore by it.
“I always knew I wanted to add this
to my little bag of tricks,” Anthofer said.
After the program was revamped and the
curriculum updated in 2014, Anthofer went through training in 2015
and became certified to teach Hypnobabies classes.
The course is a complete childbirth
education course, with nutrition and exercise covered as well. The
curriculum covers how to work with doctors and nurses to make sure
the expectant mother’s wishes are fulfilled — they can ask
medical professionals not to use certain terms and avoid giving them
certain directions — as well as how to handle a change in plans and
to help the mother meet her goals during birth.
“I love to teach people that there’s
another way,” Anthofer said.
People often are in a state of hypnosis
without realizing it, she added, such as when they are driving and
find themselves at their destination without remembering the trip, or
when they daydream while staring at a screen or reading. Hypnobabies
simply trains people to utilize that already natural process,
With this program, hypnosis doesn’t
involve someone else hypnotizing the mother; a woman chooses to put
herself into hypnosis, she said. Pregnant women are taught a “light
switch” technique that allows them to move in and out of hypnosis,
a “deepening” technique that takes them deeper into hypnosis and
The “eyes-open hypnosis” approach
allows expectant mothers to move around, communicate and change
birthing positions while in hypnosis, Anthofer said.
The process creates “hypno-anesthesia,”
which also has allowed some people to go through surgery without
The class is for pregnant women as well
as their birth partners, who are a large part of the preparations,
Anthofer said. Doulas hired by the family also are welcome to attend.
They go through the Hypnobabies scripts with the pregnant women
taking the class so that they can practice with them ahead of time
and assist them during childbirth.
Hypnobabies involves a series of
scripts, MP3 or CD tracks and cues — such as the words “relax”
or “peace,” certain music or even something as simple as a touch
to the shoulder — that help women in labor enter into hypnosis.
Certain scripts and tracks address
reducing nausea, addressing a fear of needles, holding the baby in to
prevent pre-term birth or pushing the baby out when it’s time.
Hypnobabies teaches expectant mothers
to use different terms — pressure waves rather than contractions;
transformation rather than transition; birthing time rather than
labor; guess date rather than due date.
After all, Anthofer added, only 5
percent of babies actually are born on their due date.
For Anthofer, hypnosis is similar to
meditation — it is relaxing, peaceful and calming.
When it comes down to it, hypnosis is
possible because of the power humans have to control some of their
physical reactions with their brain, she said. Research continues to
come out about the topic.
“I know and believe in that power of
the mind, and our ability to influence every aspect of our lives,”
she said. “I think the power of the mind is a hot topic right now.”
In some ways, the idea is
straightforward — by entering into hypnosis, a woman in childbirth
is more relaxed, allowing her body to go through the changes needed
to deliver a baby more easily, she added.
For Coyne, who is a mother and has been
a doula since 2012, Hypnobabies is another resource to add to her
“I like the fact that they describe
different stages of labor a little differently,” Coyne said. “They
try to block out the negativity around birth and labor. I want to
encourage everyone to be as comfortable and relaxed in their labor as
Anthofer is from near Orange City. Her
husband, Craig Anthofer, grew up in Carroll. They met online and
still argue about who contacted whom first; they’ve been married
for eight years. Anthofer has been working as a chiropractor at the
Healing Arts Center in Carroll for two years.
Anthofer and her husband both lost
their mothers soon before Anthofer found out she was pregnant. When
she held a positive pregnancy test in her hand, she showed it to her
husband and said, “Our moms are in cahoots. They found each other
The couple are waiting to find out
whether the baby is a girl or boy — it’s one of life’s last
great mysteries, Anthofer said.
Hypnobabies is completely new to the
Carroll area, but Anthofer believes many in the area would benefit
from the program. She noted that the doctors and nurses who will be
involved in her own birth are interested in observing how the process
“I’m excited to show the hospital
how this can help mothers,” Anthofer said.
She hopes to show those taking the
class a different perspective as well.
“When you think about childbirth,
women often hear these horror stories,” Anthofer said. “It’s
not portrayed as something that can be comfortable or easy.
“Our society has created (birth)
almost as a medical emergency. Pregnancy is a normal state. We were
made for this. People get fearful, but it doesn’t have to be that
The entire course costs $325, which
includes six weekly classes, at 5:30 p.m. each Wednesday starting
Aug. 3, that run a little more than three hours each; written
literature including a workbook, script book and reference book for
use at the hospital; and hypnosis tracks to use at home and during
Those who want to take the class should
register at least a few days in advance; there is assigned “home
play” — not homework, Anthofer joked — that needs to be
completed before the first class.
The classes can be taken anytime during
a woman’s pregnancy, but Anthofer recommends women start it when
they are 24 or 26 weeks pregnant or soon after, as they will need to
continue practicing the scripts once the class is done and until
A home-study course is available as
well for those who don’t live nearby.
Those interested in the course can
contact Anthofer at email@example.com. For more information,
The Hypnobabies program is offered
around the United States and in several other countries.
Many women who take the class and use
the Hypnobabies process for their second or third birth say it was
much easier than their first, Anthofer said. She added that she
always knew she wanted Hypnobabies to be something she offered as
part of her professional career.
“There’s nothing like it,” she
In addition to offering nutrition and
exercise information, the class offers a “birth rehearsal” during
the final session, which takes expectant mothers through various
scenarios and shows them how to use hypnosis tools during their
“I feel like birth
is one of the most joyful days in a person’s life,” Anthofer
said. “It doesn’t have to be a fearful thing. I want to bring joy
back into it.”