About you

  • Would you like to birth without the need for drugs or medical interventions?
  • Do you have memories of a past traumatic/unpleasant birth experience?
  • Are you wanting to bring your baby into the world in a concsious and gentle way?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions then a Calmbirth course would be ideal for you.

When should you start the course?

The Calmbirth course is recommended anywhere from your 20th week of pregnancy, ideally prior to 35 weeks. The benefits of doing the course earlier in your pregnancy include: extra time to practice the skills you have learned, ensuring they are accessed more automatically/easily on the day; the chance to connect meaningfully with your baby; experiencing lots of relaxation time (beneficial to both you and your baby); and giving you plenty of time to negotiate your birth choices with your chosen caregiver and partner/support team.

Scientifically, how does the baby benefit when childbirth is calm?

During the last few months of pregnancy, during labour and childbirth, there is an incredible amount of imprinting occurring for both the baby and the mother. The mother is not only providing nutrients for the baby, she is also providing information. She is preparing her baby for the environment into which he/she will arrive. If the mother is calm and confident during pregnancy and birth, then this is already preparing her baby to be a calm and confident human being. On the other hand if she is stressed and anxious the biochemical interaction during pregnancy labour and birth can set up a different perception for that baby about life. How it happens sets up a pattern which can be repeated over and over again. (Lipton, B. 2005, The Biology of Belief, Mountain of Love/Elite Books, Santa Rosa, California.)

Does is completely guarantee a pain-free labour and birth?

Calmbirth helps couples understand one of the main reasons why pain is created in the first place. We have anecdotal evidence to support the fact that with this knowledge, some mothers can experience what they call a pain free birth, keeping in mind that these mothers also report they experience sensations of pressure and muscular activity which can be intense at times but according to them “not painful”.

However this is not the case with all mothers. It seems it requires a leap of faith for the mother to completely trust her body to create this experience.

The evidence from Dr Sarah Buckley, Dr Michel O’dent and others suggests that when a mother’s body reaches peak levels of birthing hormones and there is no fear, then their labour and birth can be experienced in a most profoundly joyful way.

"I know this wasn't guaranteed in Calmbirth but I remember you mentioning that some women don't experience any pain. And that's exactly what happened to me - yet another reason why I didn't think I was in labour! I would describe it as 'intense' and 'hard work' and the surges were intense pressure and I felt like I was going to pop near the end, but i was never in any pain. Even when I was pushing him out, it wasn't painful. I could feel my body stretching and that's exactly how I would describe it, but it wasn't painful at all. Isn't that amazing! "

Does calmbirth work for everyone?

Calmbirth is a model of interaction. In a sense “ IT” does not work. Rather it is the pregnant couples who understand how marvellously the mother’s body is designed, who develop the confidence to work with their birth process rather than resist it and finally, to eliminate fear these are the couples who are more likely to create a birth experience unforgettably joyful, calm and even ecstatic.

About your partner

Does my birth partner have to attend the calmbirth classes?

Having a baby is a shared journey. It would be best that your birthing partner attends the classes as they will be instrumental in assisting you on the day and being able to bond in that very special way prior to your baby's birth and after your little one is born. Your birthing partner will learn these techniques with you, being able to help throughout pregnancy and on your baby's birthday. These are life skills for all to share and use.

If there is an emphasis on taking away the pain, are we are setting women up to fail?

In the calmbirth® classes the pregnant couple explore one of the main reasons why pain is created in the first place. In the basic information imparted to the pregnant couples and the skills taught, the sensations of labour can be seen more in their true light as muscle sensation albeit intense at times. Couples are able to distinguish between hard work and pain. They are reassured that no matter what path their labour and birth take, there are no failures, just different birth journeys just as there are different life journeys. Even if unforseen circumstances arise, the skills taught in the classes assist the couple to remain calm and focused and bring out of that experience the joy of bringing their baby into the world.

Is there any scientific research that has studied the effects of calmbirth on labour and birth?

Since the inception of calmbirth® research is being carried out by sending out evaluation forms to couples after the birth of their baby. 

This survey has shown that out of the 3800 calmbirth® mothers (2010)

  • 58.1% normal vaginal birth/18.2% normal vaginal birth with assistance (compared to 51% general population)
  • 15.9% emergency caesarean/4.8% planned caesarean (compared to 31% general population)
  • 46.2% had no analgesia or anesthetic during their labour 
  • 28.7% who did use analgesia, used gas only.
  • 24.2% had an epidural  (compared to 43% general population).
  • 18.2% reported that generally they would not describe the sensations they experienced during labour as painful
  • 39.7% describing their pain as mild or moderate.
  • 74.6% were able to breastfeed soon after birthing
  • 82% felt a strong bond with their baby immediately after birth


About Calmbirth®

What is calmbirth® written by Peter Jackson

Calmbirth® is the name given to a childbirth preparation programme developed by midwife Peter Jackson to specifically assist couples to create a calm, joyful and even ecstatic birth experience. The calmbirth® programme has the potential to dismantle the fear, stress and anxiety experienced by many women during pregnancy and childbirth.

The three important foundation factors addressed by calmbirth® for natural childbirth are

  1. understanding
  2. confidence
  3. fearlessness

The knowledge and skills the programme teaches prepares the mother to remain relaxed and focused during her labour, to make informed choices, if and when necessary and to be in tune with the natural energy and rhythm of her baby’s birth.

The calmbirth® programme is based upon observation, research and clinical experience. The three main areas covered in the programme are:

One of the foundational principles of calmbirth® is Dr Grantly Dick Read’s “Fear – Tension – Pain syndrome which is supported by contemporary research scientists such as Dr Candice Pert and Dr Bruce Lipton.

Dr Herbert Benson’s extensive research into the normal physiological response of Relaxation which is the opposite to the well know fight and flight response which Dr Grantly Dick Read accurately described in his Fear – Tension – Pain syndrome. The programme highlights the importance of self care and use of the person’s subconscious resources to create confidence, understanding and to dismantle fears not only around labour and birth but for all areas of life.

Bonding and Conscious Parenting draws on the research findings of Dr David Chamberlain, Dr Bruce Lipton and Dr Thomas Verny to name a few. Their evidence shows the importance of pre natal education and the relationship between the mother, father and baby.

What are the benefits of calmbirth®?

People leave the classes with a greater understanding of the birth process, confidence in their own ability to work with the birth process and excitement about their approaching birth. We receive many emails, cards, letters which anecdotally confirm that couples, given the right preparation can create a very special birth experience, even if medical intervention is required.

Benefits are:

  • Reduces fear, tension and anxiety
  • Couples develop a thorough understanding of labour and birth
    • May significantly diminish pain / pain perception during labour
  • Often decreases the need for painkillers
    • Can reduce fatigue during labour and decrease length of labour
    • Promotes bonding between couples and their baby
    • Empowers partners to play a more integral role in the birth of their baby
  • Prepares couples for unexpected circumstances that may develop during pregnancy, labour and birth


Do calmbirth® classes take the place of hospital childbirth education classes.

The calmbirth® programme is an entirely different programme to those run in hospitals and birth centres. Registered calmbirth® practitioners have been through a training process and are qualified to teach the calmbirth® model of childbirth preparation. Couples attending calmbirth® classes are encouraged to become informed of the content of the classes conducted in the place they are to give birth then make up their own minds whether to attend the hospital classes in consultation with their care givers.

Calmbirth® has a very different focus to many of the hospital classes.

  • During the classes we focus on you, your baby, your body, your mind (including the sub conscious) and your partner.
  • Hospital classes tend to focus on the stages of labour and educating women on the procedures that you may or may not need.
  • Calmbirth® develops skills and works towards creating a deeply relaxed physiological response within the woman’s body, essential for labour, birth and beyond.
  • Hospital classes provide information and knowledge.
  • Calmbirth® creates confidence and excitement around birth, that comes from experiences and knowledge gained from the class.
  • Hospital classes can sometimes create more fear or anxieties around giving birth.
  • Both have their place in the preparation for having a baby.


What are the differences between the calmbirth® programme and HypnoBirthing®?


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. (www.calmbirthregister.com.au) 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 on going 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.


Buckley, S.M.B., Ch.B..Dip Obst. Summer 2003, Undistured Birth; Nature’s Blueprint for Ease and Ecstacy,Journal on Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health Vol 17, No 4 pp 261 – 288

Caldeyro-Barcia, R. M.D. Spring 1979, The Influence of Maternal Bearing-down Efforts during Second State on Fetal Well-being. Birth and the Family Journal Vol.6 p1

Grant,Jane, S.C.M. Jan 1987, Reassessing the Second Stage, Assoc of Chartered Physiotherapists in Obstetrics& Gynaecology Journal, No 60, pp 26-30

Odent, M.1999, the Scientification of Love, Free Association Books Ltd, London

Pert, C.B, 2003, Molecules of Emotion, Scribner, New York

Sagady, Mayr,June 8th 2005, “Renewing Our Faith in Second Stage” The Second Stage Handbook. Midwifery To-day n-news Physiology of Second Stage.

Shanly, L. Don’t Push the River, It Flows by Itself website: freebirth.com