Calmbirth and Hypnobirthing

What are the differences between the Calmbirth programme and Hypnobirthing?

Written by Peter Jackson


Peter Jackson brought the HypnoBirthing programme to Australia in the late 1990s. He was the sole trainer of practitioners and built a private childbirth education practice in which he took hundreds of couples through the HypnoBirthing programme. Many of these couples received great benefit from the programme. However, the name along with certain cultural aspects and content (namely the hypnosis element) of the HypnoBirthing programme limited the number of couples interested in attending the classes.

Peter wanted to reach a wider range of Australian couples. He also believed the level of training given to practitioners needed to be of a much higher standard to equip them with the skills needed to confidently facilitate the classes.

In 2004 Peter left the HypnoBirthing Institute in the USA and took time to write his own programme which he named “Calmbirth. Calmbirth is not an Australian version of HypnoBirthing.

Each programme reflects the profession of its founder one being a midwife and the other a hypnotherapist. Each has built on the work of contemporary science and subconscious mind therapy in different ways.

Calmbirth is an Australian childbirth preparation programme which was developed by Peter Jackson in 2005. Peter has worked in General, Psychiatric and Midwifery disciplines of nursing since 1970. During the greater part of this time, Peter worked as a registered midwife assisting hundreds of birthing mothers. He is also a Private Subconscious Mind Therapist. He has developed Calmbirth from his years of study and experience in these fields.

The Hypnobirthing programme is a programme written and founded in the USA in the 1980’s by Marie Mongan, a hypnotherapist who developed the programme firstly, by drawing on her own birthing experiences and subsequent training as a counsellor and hypnotherapist.

The Programme

Dr Grantly Dick Read’s Fear – Tension – Pain syndrome forms part of the foundation of both programmes however the subsequent contemporary science as perceived by each founder is expressed in different ways.

Hypnobirthing was developed to teach couples self hypnosis techniques to achieve a satisfying birth free of the fear that causes pain and discomfort. Calmbirth promotes the use of deep relaxation which is centred around the normal physiological relaxation response within the body. This is based on Dr Herbert Benson’s extensive research into what he terms the Relaxation Response.

Both programmes draw on different sources of contemporary authors and researches in dealing with the subject of Conscious Parenting, Bonding and Attachment.

Training of Practitioners / Educators

It is in this area that the two programmes vastly differ. Calmbirth has been through the process of accreditation and is accredited by the Natural Birth Education and Research Centre. It is vitally important that registered Calmbirth practitioners have the foundation and support to facilitate their Calmbirth classes confidently and competently. A large number of resources have been put into the Calmbirth programme to facilitate this.

The Calmbirth training consists of three modules: a pre reading module, a 5 day face to face seminar and a clinical module in which the students facilitate 3 Calmbirth classes with volunteer couples. These classes are evaluated by the Calmbirth student, and the volunteer couples in the form of a reflective paper written by the student and evaluation forms forwarded to Calmbirth. As well as this Calmbirth students are required to submit an open book review with the view to help students consolidate their learning.

A Calmbirth practitioner register has been set up with Standards and Codes of Practice.( Renewal of yearly registration as a Calmbirth practitioner is dependent on the practitioner fulfilling certain obligations e.g. on going education, legal obligations, abiding by codes and service of practice.

Hypnobirthing is not accredited by any independent body. The Hypnobirthing practitioner training consists of 4 days face to face lectures. The first two days are devoted to the subject of Hypnosis and is followed by two days which deals with running the HypnoBirthing class programme. Students fill out an open book review and submit this to the HypnoBirthing Institute in the USA. Accreditation can take up to 6 months. There is no HypnoBirthing register and Australian practitioners are listed on the American HypnoBirthing website under geographical areas.

On going support for practitioners.

Calmbirth students and registered practitioners are able to contact Peter Jackson by phone or email should the need arise. Further support is available through the Calmbirth chat line, regular area practitioner meetings (which also include ongoing education) and an on line newsletter.

All support comes from the USA with practitioners required to contact the founder by email or phone.

There is a HypnoBirthing chat line available for practitioners which is facilitated in the USA.

Advisory Committee.

Calmbirth has a voluntary advisory committee made up of experts in relevant fields who contribute to continuing development of the Calmbirth programme. Hypnobirthing does have a Board based in the USA. All decisions are made by the founder of the programme.