Jenna Anthofer and her husband Craig go through a Hypnobabies class together July 6. Anthofer, who plans to use the Hypnobabies program during the birth of her first child, is offering a set of classes starting Aug. 3.
Jenna Anthofer and her husband Craig go through a Hypnobabies class together July 6. Anthofer, who plans to use the Hypnobabies program during the birth of her first child, is offering a set of classes starting Aug. 3.

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. Breathes.

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 tolerance!”

The new mom’s response: “It was my hypnosis.”

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 complication.

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 the class.

“Our imaginative but unrealistic frontal lobes are simply fantasizing about a catastrophic event,” she said.

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, Anthofer said.

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 other tools.

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 medical anesthesia.

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 toolbox.

“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 possible.”

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 up there.”

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 works.

“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 way.”

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 childbirth.

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 their birth.

A home-study course is available as well for those who don’t live nearby.

Those interested in the course can contact Anthofer at joyhypnobabies@yahoo.com. For more information, visit facebook.com/JoyHypnobabies.

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 said.

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 birthing time.

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.”