HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method

This book scatters some good points around a thesis that contradicts itself.

HypnoBirthing claims that the problem with modern births is intervention: doctors getting in the way of an instinctual process that nature has honed over millions of years. Dogs and cats can give birth without lessons or help, so why do humans need an entire team and toolshed? That's a pretty good question. But then the book immediately follows with several chapters of Things You Must Do instead of listening to The Doctors — in other words, the book insists on its own interventions. e.g. meditations, planning, perineal massage, exercises, foods, etc.

If intervention is the problem then why, HypnoBirthing, are your interventions good and the status quo's bad?

(I'm not dismissing HypnoBirthings suggestions. A lot of them sound like good ideas to me. But I'm also not dismissing the status quo just because the book says I should.)

For ex., at one point in the book the author is railing against pushing during delivery, and goes on to warn that, during labor, you may feel an overwhelming urge to push, an urge you should resist! This urge, goes HypnoBirthing, is the result of modern conditioning. But wait a minute, now: isn't the foundation of the argument that one should listen to their instincts? Well, according to the author this particular urge is conditioned by society and not instinct.

Ok, so who decides what is conditioned and what is instinctual? Apparently, only the sanctified priests of HypnoBirthing.

The book also makes the all-too-typical rhetorical mistake of presenting its points as being independent of a completely corrupt community of dastardly doctors — as if all that accumulated knowledge that we call Medicine is a comprehensive conspiratorial scheme only meant to trick poor patients into providing the establishment with its deceitfully earned profits. And who can save us from such evil villains? Nature. And who is nature's proxy? HypnoBirthing, of course.

Well, a bite from a rattlesnake is pretty natural, but I wouldn't want one. And a shot of insulin derived in a Pfizer factory is as man made as it gets. Best of luck turning it down, as a diabetic. Claiming something is good because it's natural or bad because it's man-made is nonsense. One must explain cause and effect, precisely and on a case by case basis.

Further, why shouldn't I be suspicious of you, as well, author? You're just as much part of an establishment from my point of view. Stop pointing fingers and snickering, and start making observation-backed claims and arguments.

It's fine if HypnoBirthing addresses specific issues with specific solutions, but instead it finger-points its way through the prose until the only position left for itself is that of the hero.

Moving on.

The author also suggests that birth need not be mediated by medical professionals, unless there are exceptional emergency circumstances. But how am I to know if my situation is exceptional, if my instincts don't tell me? It would seem I might want to ummm... call, hmmm... a doctor? But you told me not to trust these trigger happy maniacs! When the author does get around to describing when you might want to consult The Man and intervene, she lists a series of staccato one liner conditions that read like the end of a pharmaceutical commercial.

"Warning: you may want to consult a medical professional if amniotic fluid has too much meconium in it and smells off." Smells off?? Is a first time birthing mother supposed to pre-divine what the normal smell of amniotic fluid should be?

Side effects of HypnoBirthing during emergency may include vomiting, upset stomach, constipation, amnesia, loss of offspring, insomnia, hyper-lulus, the beep bops, or death.

All of that said, the idea that doctors and patients have different goals and often misaligned incentives makes total sense. A doctor who delivers a 10 babies a week is likely to want to get home to dinner on time, regardless of it being your special day. A surgeon probably likes to do surgery like a pilot likes to fly planes. And so, yes, a bit of independence and prioritization, on the part of the one doing the birthing, can go a long way.