Best hypnobirthing courses, apps and books to reduce pain in labour – tested
Tried and tested by pregnant mums-to-be, these hypnobirthing courses, apps and books are the most effective to help you use hypnobirthing techniques during labour and post-birth
While hypnobirthing has become hugely popular in recent years, birth hypnosis is a practice that's been used for centuries. Hypnobirthing helps you manage your pain and bring your body to a calm state before and during labour.
Adrenaline, tension and fear can directly hinder the progression and length of your labour. Think of a time when you've felt super relaxed either at the spa during a massage treatment, during a yoga session or just cuddled up on the sofa – this kind of calm state is what hypnobirthing techniques can achieve.
When your muscles are tense, your brain is picking up fight or flight signals and is doing everything it can to help you flee, and this will interrupt the natural process your body undergoes to birth your baby.
"Hypnobirthing techniques such as deep breathing, visualisation and audio relaxation tools help to keep your mind relaxed," explains Emiliana Hall, an Antenatal and Hypnobirthing Teacher & Doula and Founder of The Mindful Birth Group. "Your body then follows your mind's lead. In order to produce birth hormones such as oxytocin and endorphins, we need to feel calm and relaxed."
A UK study showed how hypnobirthing can indeed shorten labour. With 262 subjects and 600 controls, researchers Jenkins and Pritchard discovered that hypnobirthing achieved a reduction of 3 hours labour time for 1st time mums, going from an average of 9.3 hours to 6.4 hours. Additionally, pushing time was shorter for 1st time mums, reducing from an average of 50 minutes to 37 minutes.
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There was also a 1 hour reduction time in labour for 2nd time (or subsequent) mums, from 6.2 hours to 5.3 hours.
There are lots of products out there that can help you practise hypnobirthing. We've gathered tried and tested findings from parents in our Top Testers Club, who have tested various hypnobirthing products throughout the course of their pregnancies.
Our expert Emiliana advises, "Look for a course or resource that supports all types of births and educates you on all of your options. If your preference is vaginal birth, it's still important to learn about unplanned caesareans too.
"Birth cannot be planned, but you can learn about your options and prepare to navigate your birth on the day, however it unfolds. If a course or book tells you that you can have a certain type of birth by following these steps, this should ring alarm bells. It should also cover postnatal recovery, as the 4th trimester is a continuation of your pregnancy and birth experience."
It's helpful to know that nothing can ultimately guarantee a vaginal birth or a successful home birth, so you can set expectations – basically, know that anything can happen, however well prepared you are. But, at the same time, hypnobirthing will help you to be informed about what your body is capable of (let's face it, our baby-bearing bodies are incredible) and what it's doing at every given stage of labour and birth.
Best hypnobirthing products at a glance:
- Best easy-to-follow course: The Positive Birth Company Hypnobirthing Digital Pack, £39
- Best for early stages of labour: Freya App, £2.49
- Best mindful neutral app design: My Mindful Midwife App, £2.49
- Best course for beyond birth: Mindful Birth, Bump & Beyond Online Course, £75
- Best for reducing birth fears: The Calm Birth Method Book, £11.04
- Best for fun and upbeat approach: The Positive Birth Book, £10.99
- Best for natural birth: Mindful Hypnobirthing Book, £12.09
- Best for midwife insight: My Body My Baby: By Midwives For Women, £49.34
- Best affordable online course: Bump and Baby Club Hypnobirthing Course, £30
What to consider when buying hypnobirthing products
How do you want to learn – There's a variety of ways you can learn and practise hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing Teacher & Doula Emiliana says, "There are online courses, books, podcasts, private courses, group courses... There is something for every budget. However every pregnancy and birth is so different, so invest as much as you can in preparing for your birth and postnatal recovery period in the most personalised way that you can."
Purpose – Some materials don't just focus on pregnancy or labour but may also provide hypnobirthing techniques to use for postnatal recovery. Giving birth is one thing but recovering from labour, a c-section or even breastfeeding can be quite painful. If you'd like that extra advice, look out for our suggested products that offer that too.
Local hospital resources – Your local hospital may offer hypnobirthing classes or courses for free. When we asked our Top Testers Club about their experiences with hypnobirthing, a number of mums shared that they received this service locally. Parent tester Sarah said, "Hypnobirthing was offered as a course through our local hospital trust and I really found the breathing techniques useful."
Birth partner participation – Most of us aim to give birth with someone we know there with us, giving support. Whether it's your partner, mother or friend, they may find it helpful to have an understanding of the hypnobirthing techniques themselves, so they can support you better. Some of the products listed below offer coaching specifically for them, or book chapters for them to read and learn how they can support you during labour.
Varied results – While hypnobirthing might sound fantastic and exciting for some, it's important to note that no hypnobirthing product can guarantee a 'successful' birth. Labour is still such an unpredictable event and anything can happen. The good thing is that even in the event of an unplanned c-section, induction or unplanned medicated birth, the techniques learnt can still be applied to help you in those situations too. Some of the products below go into extra detail on how hypnobirthing can be of aid in each of those unplanned or planned situations so there's something for everyone.
Price – It varies how you can and learn about and receive information on hypnobirthing, and this can impact the price you pay. Generally speaking, we think most people can access this information if they wanted to, for completely free from your local hospital or as little as £2.49 in the form of an app. We have different options to try that should suit your budget needs.
Here are our picks of the best hypnobirthing products
1. The Positive Birth Company Hypnobirthing Digital Pack, £39
– Best easy-to-follow course
Type: Online course | Award: Gold, Pregnancy/birth product & service, MadeForMums Awards 2022
Founded by hypnobirthing expert Siobhan Miller, this easy-to-follow course explains what to expect during labour, especially if it's your first time giving birth. The course offers 6+ hours of quality video content, 8 audio guided meditations. a PDF course notes booklet, editable birth preferences template, positive affirmations, breathing practices, access to a private Facebook group and infant feeding guide for when your baby arrives.
"It offers high quality design, simple and stylish content delivered at a great pace that you neither feel rushed or that it has been dragged out unnecessarily," explains parent tester Sian.
The Positive Birth Company Hypnobirthing Digital Pack is also a highly rated choice in our Top Testers Club. At £39, the course is relatively affordable when you consider the amount of content you receive, and the fact you have access to it forever, so can use it for subsequent pregnancies.
Our pregnant parent testers loved how straight forward, clear and easy to follow it is. Tester Sian commented, "It's logical and easy to navigate from section to section." Mums from our Top Testers also praised it for being comprehensive and offering great value.
Parent tester Lorna shared how beneficial she found using a lot of the small products suggested within the course such as room fragrance spray, calming music, candles etc. Though we do acknowledge that not everyone will be into these things, as one parent tester mentioned she didn't really take to the mediation and affirmation bits, it's good to know that the course has varied elements of practising hypnobirthing.
Mum of 2 and parent tester Amber commented, "I was petrified of childbirth – I'd had a genuine fear since I was around 14. I did the course and it actually cured my fear and helped me to stay calm for the rest of my pregnancy! The breathing exercises were such a huge help."
Parent tester Sandy added, "I had a lovely labour and would love to experience it again! No pain relief, no tears or stitches needed! I'll be using it again!"
The course has designated videos for your birth partner to watch, either with or without you. "The biggest benefit for us was that the course helped enable my husband to feel a bit more confident in his role during labour and it helped me stay calm in those early phases," says parent tester Jodie.
Other products from The Positive Birth Company include the Trying To Conceive Pack, Postpartum Pack and Early Years Pack for when your baby comes.
I've used this myself and didn't expect how much I'd love it. I can't speak highly enough of my birth experiences without mentioning this hypnobirthing course. I particularly loved how knowledgable I felt after going through the materials. The scientific and psychological explanations equipped me with knowing how I can work with my body to manage pain.
Pros: Easy to follow, high quality content, birth partner participation, lots of extra material, support group access
Cons: Quite pricey
Available from: The Positive Birth Company
2. Freya App, £2.49
– Best for early stages of labour
Type: Mobile app | Available on: iPhone, Android | Award: Gold – Technology product for babies and families, MadeForMums Awards 2022
If you feel like you've digested as much hypnobirthing content as possible but still worried you'll forget everything when push comes to shove, then this app is for you. Available in 6 languages and created by the makers of The Hypnobirthing Digital Pack, the Freya app is essentially your virtual birth partner and helps you through the early stages of labour.
The Freya app helps you to time and log your contractions whilst coaching you by reminding you to relax with breathing techniques, gentle music, positive affirmations and relaxing visualisations. It keeps a track of how frequently your contractions are occurring and for how long. This then eventually indicates when your labour looks like it's becoming established and that it's a good time to call your midwife for the next steps.
It's particularly helpful if you're labouring at home before going into the hospital or whilst your midwife makes her way for your home birth. The app enables you to also share the recorded contractions data with your midwife or doula as necessary.
Parent tester Kathleen commented, "I used the Freya app at home for the first 7 hours of my labour and when I got to the hospital I was at 8cm. My little one arrived not long after that!"
I also used this app myself when it came to labour with my firstborn, I noticed that the app gave such a good indication of when to call my midwife. I was indeed in active labour, as the app detected by the frequency and length of my contractions, and was given the go-ahead to come to the hospital.
MFM Editor Gemma also commented, "It does one thing and does it really well. It can be bought on its own or used alongside The Hypnobirthing Digital Pack. I think investing in this when you're about to give birth is a no-brainer."
Pros: Affordable, time recorder for contractions, helps with labouring at home
Cons: Only single use for labour, not a course
Available from: Freya, The Positive Birth Company
3. My Mindful Midwife App, £2.49
– Best mindful neutral app design
Type: Mobile app | Available: iPhone, Android | Award: Silver – Products for pregnancy, MadeForMums Awards 2022
Looking for a combination of midwife expert advice and hypnobirthing techniques in one place? The Mindful Midwife app does exactly that and our testers found it very useful. The app offers lots of features: it provides weekly pregnancy updates, mindful relaxing audios, birth packing checklist, personalised contact list and contraction timer. You can select your birth preference and the information in the app becomes tailored to that preference. However knowing how unpredictable birth can be, if your preferences change you can switch to the appropriate one with just one click of a button.
Created together by a midwife and hypnobirthing expert, the app takes into consideration all avenues of bringing a baby into the world and reflects that in the language used throughout the app.
The planning aspect made it appealing, supportive and versatile to our parent testers. “You can put everything into the app unlike others. I was able to put hospital numbers and midwife contact numbers on and have it with me at all times rather than carrying round my notes,” explained parent tester Danielle.
Parent tester Katy praised, “I’m all for any way of promoting positive mental well-being particularly in pregnancy and labour. This app provides great additional support and I would recommend it to friends.”
The intentional simplistic design of the app further invites you to feel calm whilst using it, although one tester shared that she would have loved more colour.
Birth partners aren't left out here either, they too can take part and listen to mindful meditations that allow them to feel relaxed and comfortable to support you on the big day.
Pros: Great value, weekly pregnancy updates, packing checklist, partner content
Cons: Basic design
Available from: My Mindful Midwife
4. Mindful Birth, Bump & Beyond Online Course, £75
– Best for beyond birth
Type: Online course, in-person course, group course
The Mindful Birth, Bump and Beyond course has a huge amount of content. It's designed to help with postnatal prep and recovery as well as prenatal and birth support. It offers weekly live pregnancy yoga, baby care advice, parent and baby yoga. a resource library, live midwife access, relaxation sessions and access to a online community.
You have the option of attending the course online via Zoom or in-person both privately, or in a group setting online or in-person depending on what you prefer.
Parent tester Sophie commented, "I particularly found the birthing/labour section useful as this is something I was anxious about (being a first time mum). Listening to the different topics has helped me become a lot more relaxed about the prospect of giving birth and also helped me decide on my birthing plan. The affirmations are amazing and also the little bits of 'homework' you are given throughout the course which encourage you to feel more positive."
The makers of the course carry everyone along by outlining the different kinds of births that can occur. Parent tester Sophie shared, "There a couple of topics which weren't relevant to me however the course is so inclusive there would be something for everyone."
We know that some may find this course expensive and if so, there are other options on our list that will do a similar job. However if you decide to make the investment, tester Sophie confirms, "The course is very good value for money when you compare all the topics included. It includes the whole journey up until returning to work."
Pros: Covers a lot of stages, live sessions, option for private or group sessions, birth partner participation
Available from: Mindful Birth, Bump and Beyond
5. The Calm Birth Method Book by Suzy Ashworth, £11.04
– Best for reducing birth fears
Author and pregnancy coach Suzy Ashworth came to learn about hypnobirthing through her own experience when having her first child. Her book walks you through the physiology and psychology of what your mind and body undergoes during pregnancy and birth, explains why women tend to be fearful of birth and how to deal with those fears, and how your birth partner can collaborate with the midwives to ensure you have almost everything on your wish list granted on the big day – including how your birthing environment looks and feels.
You can learn hypnobirthing breathing techniques and visualisations to keep calm and to hopefully achieve a positive birthing experience.
For many, the lead up to labour and birth can be filled with so many different emotions. Mum of 3 and parent tester Hannah experienced this and shared how she suddenly felt panicked and reached for this book a week before giving birth to her eldest child. It helped with to reassure her and she's kept the copy for future use, commenting, "I'm planning to re-read for baby number 3."
Pros: Good for making notes and highlighting key parts, birth partner info
Cons: Not as extensive or visual as a video course
Available from: Amazon
6. The Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill, £10.99
– Best for fun and upbeat approach
Use this witty yet informative book to learn about what takes place in the labour room and how you can plan to achieve the birth you want. Milli Hill goes through the core essentials in terms of your options and rights when it comes to giving birth, especially for the first time. The book equips you with lots of information, enabling you to go to your midwife with an informed, detailed birth plan.
The lead up to bringing a baby in the world can mean your emotions are all over the place, or perhaps you may be in the nesting mode trying to get everything together. Either way, this book aims to help you get in the right mental space for what's to come. Parent tester Jenny commented, "I read the Positive Birth Book and loved it. I laughed and cried all at once but most importantly it educated me and got me excited about the whole birthing experience."
Pros: Positive approach, good for making notes and highlighting key parts, birth partner info
Cons: Not as extensive or visual as a video course
7. Mindful Hypnobirthing Book by Sophie Fletcher, £12.09
– Best for natural birth
Mindful Hypnobirthing is a great book to help you feel calm and confident ahead of the big day. You might be someone who enjoys reading a physical book, but if you're having a challenging pregnancy or perhaps this pregnancy is a subsequent one for you, then listening to the audio version might be a good idea.
Parent tester Amy explains, "I listened to the audiobook and found it really helpful."
The Mindful Hypnobirthing book comprises real life stories of pregnant people who have successfully been able to use the hypnosis techniques and relaxing tracks to have a positive birth. Geared towards the goal of a natural birth, hypnotherapist and experienced doula Sophie Fletcher explains how the mind and body work together to birth your baby.
Mum of 2 and parent tester Chi commented, "I found it helped to reduce my anxiety around labour and the breathing techniques did help me to stay calm." Parent tester Cali found that the book was more than enough to give her the basic principles to practise hypnobirthing.
Pros: Audio version available, real-life examples, good for making notes and highlighting key parts
Cons: Not as visual as a video course
Available from: Amazon
8. My Body My Baby: By Midwives For Women, £50
– Best for midwife insight
Use this book to see what midwives have to say in the lead up to you giving birth. The My Body My Baby book brings you side by side with a midwife's perspective, providing you with their insight and what they wish you knew before coming in to give birth. The book covers pregnancy, labour, birth, and a few days after your baby arrives.
My Body My Baby aims to equip you with as much knowledge as possible on the core essentials of pregnancy and labour to help you know your options and rights. Together you can collaborate with your midwife and make informed decisions to have the birth you wish for.
Mum of 2 and parent tester Jennifer commented, "This book was a perfect balance of non-bias information on all birth options and coping tool. The book also came with free audio meditations which I listened to every night. I was very nervous about my first birth a year ago and the book and meditations made the birth almost enjoyable – even though it didn’t go as hoped (from home birth to emergency c-section). As I approach the birth of my second baby, I am completely at ease and reflect on the first birth positively. I highly recommend hypnobirthing."
The price is a bit steep but perhaps see this book as a rich, detailed piece of material that will be jam-packed with research, evidence and insightful knowledge – from those who witness birth every day.
Pros: Midwife insight and perspective, additional audio meditations
Cons: Expensive, not as visual as a video course
Available from: Amazon
9. Bump and Baby Club Hypnobirthing Course, £30
– Best affordable online course
Type: Online course
Bump & Baby Club pride themselves on offering 'modern antenatal classes' and from what we can see, that looks like doing pilates, brunch and lots of other cool activities with your local club. For class members their hypnobirthing course is offered for free but if you don't join the classes, you can still purchase the online course.
For £30 you'll receive the pre-recorded course content, relaxation scripts, audio files, positive affirmations and The Hypno Handbook which is a written guide created to compliment the course. The Bump & Baby Hypnobirthing Club course outlines how the mind and body come together to work in your favour to manage pain and eliminate fear and anxiety. The aim is to combine Hypnotherapy with Ante-natal teaching, so that you don't cover the same topics over again.
It also advises how your birth partner can help you remain calm during labour, and how they can help you create a relaxing environment to give birth to your baby. Hypnobirthing techniques are also covered here such as massages, breathing, visualisation and relaxation exercises.
Parent tester Rose used this course and felt she benefited hugely from the training. "I can’t speak highly enough of hypnobirthing, it helped make my birthing one of the most lovely and fun experiences of my life."
Pros: free for existing Bump & Baby antenatal class members, less expensive than other courses, extra material
Cons: No live sessions or community access
Available from: The Bump & Baby Club
How did we choose our list of recommendations?
When testing these hypnobirthing products with parent testers, we asked them to report back on the product type, purpose of it, birth partner participation and whether they thought it was worth the money.
Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.
Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.
About the author
Janet is a Digital Journalist for MadeForMums. Over the years, she has developed a keen eye and passion for creating online media content. She writes and creates visual content sharing her journey of motherhood, self-care and encouragement for new mums via her Instagram page. She is a wife and mother to a boy and girl both under 4 and has successfully practised hypnobirthing herself during both of her pregnancies and labours.
About the expert
Emiliana Hall is an accredited birth and postnatal doula, and has supported families with birth preparation and at induced, birth centre, labour ward, abdominal and home births. You name it, Emiliana has been by the sides of parents navigating their fears, hopes and preferences within the current NHS and private healthcare systems. You can find her at The Mindful Birth Group.
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