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The best hypnobirthing books and tools for pregnancy and labour

If you want to learn about how you can create a calm and relaxing environment during childbirth, we’ve compiled a list of the best hypnobirthing books, courses, apps and podcasts, as recommended by mums.

By Gemma Wilcock | Last updated May 23, 2023

If you’re expecting a baby, you may be considering hypnobirthing, a technique that can help relieve pain and feelings of stress during pregnancy and labour. Like lots of things to do with becoming a parent though, it can feel overwhelming trying to find the right information, which is where the best hypnobirthing book comes in very handy.

Hypnobirthing teaches relaxation, visualisation and self-hypnosis skills to help mothers-to-be create a calm and relaxing environment during labour. Some of the benefits of this technique include a shorter, more comfortable labour without the need for pain relief. It can also lead to a more positive birth experience. To help make sure you get your information from a trusted, respected source, we’ve combined the knowledge and real-life experience of our Mumsnet users with expert sources to help us research the best hypnobirthing books and tools to buy right now, those which can be read alongside the best pregnancy books and top-rated parenting books to help you prepare for labour and the years afterwards. 

As home to the largest online network of UK parents, our Mumsnet forums are a wealth of useful information and recommendations for the best items for every stage of the pregnancy journey and beyond, from the best prenatal vitamins to take before conception to the most useful TENs machines for labour.

Here are the best hypnobirthing books 2023.

The best hypnobirthing books, audio and apps: at a glance

1. Overall best hypnobirthing book and tool: Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make Your Birth Better by Siobhan Miller

Siobhan Miller Hypnobirthing Book

Price on writing: £8 | Buy it now from Amazon

Key specs

Formats available: Paperback, e-book, audiobook | Length: 272 pages | Last updated: 2019

What we love

  • Very informative book by respected author and hypnobirthing teacher
  • Helps prepare you for all kinds of births
  • Readers claim their feel more empowered 
  • Can be used alongside the online course and Freya app

What to know

  • Some users found her experience of induction and intervention came across negatively

What Mumsnet users say

“Hey I would definitely recommend Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make Your Birth Better by Siobhan Miller (founder of the Positive Birth Company). I also enjoyed The Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill. I was absolutely TERRIFIED of giving birth but both these books have made me feel much more empowered and positive, even a little bit excited now!” (Recommended by Mumsnet user NicNac100)

Our verdict

Rating: 5/5

Hypnobirthing teacher and Founder of The Positive Birth Company, Siobhan Miller’s name pops up again and again on our Mumsnet forums. In her book, Siobhan aims to debunk common myths around hypnobirthing while educating women so they can have more control over their body, resulting in a more positive birthing experience. 

An accredited Royal College of Midwives hypnobirthing teacher, Siobhan looks at how the techniques can be used in all types of birth, whether you’re at home or on a labour ward - helping women and their partners to prepare for all eventualities. This is an ideal read if just the sight of your positive pregnancy test sends you into a spiral of panic about giving birth. 

The perfect tome to crack open as you relax back into your best pregnancy pillow or sink into a bath, Mumsnet users claim that this book made them feel more empowered and helped change their attitude surrounding childbirth, although some readers found Siobhan’s own experience of having an induction comes across negatively in the book.

Through The Positive Birth Company, Siobhan also uses her expert knowledge to offer courses - see below for more information - and has also produced the Freya app for providing support during labour. 

2. Best hypnobirthing audiobook: Effective Birth Preparation: Hypnobirthing for Birth in a Hospital or Birth Centre by Maggie Howell

Maggie Howell Hypnobirthing

Price on writing: £11 | Buy it now from Amazon

Key specs

Format: Audiobook (CD) | Last updated: 2016

What we love

  • Self-hypnosis CD teaches techniques for feeling calm and relaxed
  • Helps women prepare for birth in a hospital setting
  • Uses triggers like hospital sights and sounds  
  • Other CDs available for different needs

What to know

  • Some users found it didn’t help once they were in labour
  • Do need to spend time listening to it to learn the skills

What Mumsnet users say

“Maggie Howell CD is great! I used it twice. Not especially hippy or judgy I think?” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Stillathing)

Our verdict

Rating: 4/5

If you don’t want to fork out lots of money, but would like to learn the techniques of hypnobirthing, Maggie Howell has produced a CD for helping women prepare for birth in a hospital setting

Whether it’s on a ward or birthing centre, the guided audio has been designed to help women practise self-hypnosis to help you overcome a fear of labour and feel more calm and relaxed. Using the sights, sounds and smells from a hospital the audio puts in place triggers so your mind knows what to do when you go into labour. 

Users of Maggie Howell’s CD claim it helped them to relax in all kinds of birthing situations, including induction and long labours. It’s recommended that you listen to the CD at least 20 times so that you feel more calm and relaxed, and to also help you manage your pain. We'd recommend making it part of your evening routine after applying the best stretch mark cream and getting into your favourite maternity pyjamas (some of the birth prep tracks can make you pretty sleepy!)

Maggie has produced a range of self-hypnosis CDs designed for different situations, including the full programme.

3. Best hypnobirthing book for first time parents: HypnoBirthing: For a safer, easier, more comfortable birth by Marie F. Mongan

Price: £13 | Buy it now from Amazon

Key specs

Format: Paperback, audiobook (Audible and CD) | Length: 336 pages | Last updated: 2020

What we love

  • Helps women feel more empowered and in control
  • Can help make birth a more relaxing experience
  • CD and audiobook also available

What to know

  • Some readers claim there isn’t enough practical information

What Mumsnet users say

“I did, and am doing again, the official Hypnobirthing, by Marie Mongan. I swear it was wonderful, I felt completely in control and had a quick labour. I wouldn't say without pain though! I do the relaxation on the CD most days. We also went to lessons the first time. This was good as we were both involved, rather than me reading and my husband not having a clue. My DS also turned out to be a really happy and relaxed baby, not much crying. Although he's made up for it now he's nearly 2! Also try Ina May Gaskell.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnetter Lozmatoz)

Our verdict

Rating: 4/5

It is Marie F. Mongan’s mission to empower women to believe in their bodies so that childbirth doesn’t have to be a painful and distressing experience. 

Marie learnt this through having her own four children and went on to develop the Mongan Method in which she uses her experience and research to help women to free their mind from the fear of giving birth, to make it a more calm and even enjoyable experience. 

In her book, Marie uses techniques like visualisation, positive thinking and breathing exercises to help women to relax during labour and feel less tense, which in turn can greatly reduce the pain of childbirth and help to shorten the birth and recovery time. 

Some readers did find there was too much information about hospital births and not enough practical information about the techniques. There’s also a CD and audiobook version of it if you want to listen to it instead. Combine with the best birthing ball and a good pregnancy support belt for a calm, comfortable pregnancy.

4. Best hypnobirthing online course: The Positive Birth Company Hypnobirthing Pack

The Positive Birth Company Course

Price on writing: £39| Buy it now from Boots

Key specs

Format: Digital course including video, audio and booklet 

What we love

  • Good value online course
  • 43 videos to listen to 
  • MP3s to download
  • Includes guided meditations
  • Access to private Facebook group 

What to know

  • Some users felt the course pushes home births

What Mumsnet users say

“Look up the Positive Birth Company - it’s about £38 I think for an online course (videos you watch in your own time), relaxation tracks etc. Really helped me last time! The hypnobirthing teacher on the course also has an accompanying book but I preferred the online course.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Peelspeelspeels)

Our verdict

Rating: 3/5

An online antenatal course, The Positive Birth Company Hypnobirthing Pack covers everything you need to know to help you prepare yourself for a calmer, more positive birth.

There’s more than six hours of content - that’s 43 videos - to watch in your own time which have been divided into different sections. From relaxation techniques to the different interventions that may occur during labour, such as an induction, the course breaks down what could happen and how you can prepare for it. It even covers what to do once your baby is born, including skin-to-skin contact and cord clamping.

Mumsnet users appreciate the course’s balanced approach to all kinds of births and found it useful for learning the techniques, although some did find that the course pushes the idea of home births which is not going to be suitable for everyone. 

There are guided meditations and MP3s you can download, and you also have access to a private Facebook group for people who have taken the course so you can chat and share advice. If you can’t afford a private hypnobirthing session, then this comes highly recommended by Mumsnetters as the next best thing - and at an affordable price. Ideal to pick up from Boots while you shop for the best skincare for pregnancy and haemorrhoid cream.

5. Best down-to-earth hypnobirthing audiobook: Your Baby, Your Birth by Hollie de Cruz

Hollie Decruz Hypnobirthing

Price: £8 per month | Buy it now with Audible

Key specs

Format: Audiobook, Paperback | Length: 6 hrs, 14 mins | Last updated: 2018

What we love

  • Down-to-earth approach
  • Celebrity hypnobirthing coach
  • Book helps to build confidence in women to listen to their instincts
  • Good practical advice

What to know

  • Some listeners found the book lacked enough detail and information

What Mumsnet users say

“I read Your Baby, Your Birth by Hollie de Cruz and it’s brilliant. I also did the Positive Birth Company online course and although I haven’t read Siobhan’s book, the course was brilliant and I liked her approach.” (Recommended by Mumsnetter Excitednerves)

Our verdict

Rating: 4/5

Having worked with celebrities including Fearne Cotton and Giovanna Fletcher, Hollie de Cruz is a renowned hypnobirthing coach.

She doesn’t claim that a birth will be perfect but that it can be a positive experience for both mum and baby. Through Your Birth, Your Baby, Hollie’s aim is to build confidence in women so that they listen to their instincts during childbirth.

The book teaches you how to understand the changes in your body so you can make informed decisions, as well as practising relaxation skills, mindfulness and meditation so you stay focussed and calm during labour. This has helped readers feel less anxious about giving birth.

Her down-to-earth approach makes her a sought after and successful hypnobirthing coach and with this audiobook you can listen to it again and again to help you prepare for birth. 

Read next: Looking for the best gifts for a new baby and mother? Discover the best baby gifts and the top gifts for new mums as rated by the parents who've received them all.

6. Best hypnobirthing podcast: The Hypnobirthing Podcast

The Hypnobirthing Podcast

Price: free | Listen to it now on Apple

Key specs

Format: Podcast | Length: Episodes range from 10 - 50 mins | Last updated: Jan 2023

What we love

  • Episodes look at positive hypnobirthing stories
  • Covers interviews with mums about their different experiences
  • Includes guided meditation

What to know

  • Not as in depth as reading one of the books or doing an online course

What Mumsnet users say

“I then did the The Nurture Nest Essentials course later in the pregnancy which I found really practical for actually planning my birth and I liked some of the MP3s. She also has a podcast called 'The Hypnobirthing Podcast' which has so much info you might not feel like you need to pay for a course in the end! I bought her course purely because I wanted to support her as the podcast is so good!” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Justdeciding)

Our verdict

Rating: 3/5

Presented by mum-of-two and hypnobirthing coach Clare, the Hypnobirthing Podcast is a series looking at the positive effects of hypnobirthing. 

Owner of The Nurture Nest, the episodes include useful information about preparing for birth, as well as interviews with authors and mums with their own positive birth stories. She also covers a range of different experiences, such as giving birth to a larger baby as well as provided some guided meditation to listen to.

There are currently 62 episodes, with two new ones released every month. For anyone wanting to research and learn more about hypnobirthing and how it can be put into practice, this is a great place to start. 

Read next: Discover the best pelvic floor trainer according to Mumsnet users.

7. Best hypnobirthing app: GentleBirth App

Gentlebirth App

Price: free, but extra in-app purchases | Buy it now from Apple

Key specs

Format: App | Last updated: March 2023

What we love

  • Uses a range of techniques to prepare women for birth
  • Suitable for use with all kinds of births
  • Can be used during pregnancy, labour and beyond
  • Playlists can be used to for anxiety and to aid sleep
  • Access to GentleBirth community and team

What to know

  • The app is free but there are in-app purchases to be aware of

What Mumsnet users say

“I also have the Gentle Birth app, which has loads of audio content you can access whenever but also has daily recommendations throughout pregnancy.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnetter Wingingitsince2018)

Our verdict

Rating: 3/5

Created by author and midwife Tracy Donegan, the GentleBirth app is a helpful tool for mums during pregnancy and labour.

Combining hypnobirthing, mindfulness, breathing techniques, meditation and affirmations, the GentleBirth app is suitable for all kinds of births. The app sends daily recommendations to help you feel more calm and relaxed, and prepare you for childbirth. This includes playlists to help you sleep and manage anxiety and the app can also be used to support you during labour and even after your baby is born. 

You also have access to the GentleBirth team and community of more than 10,000 members. If you want to find out more about Tracey Donegan, you can also read her book GentleBirth: Your Positive Birth Begins Here. Combine with a pair of the best compression socks for pregnancy for extra support during those last few months.

Related: Trying for a baby and want to know more about your cycle? Discover our guide to the best ovulation test according to Mumsnetters.

8. Best hypnobirthing book for a relaxing pregnancy: Mindful Hypnobirthing: Hypnosis and Mindfulness Techniques for a Calm and Confident Birth by Sophie Fletcher

Sophie Fletcher Hypnobirthing

Price on writing: £15  | Buy it now from Amazon

Key specs

Format: Paperback, e-book, audiobook download, CD | Length: 256 pages | Last updated: 2014

What we love

  • Downloadable tracks to help you feel calm and relaxed
  • Real-life experiences about using hypnobirthing techniques
  • Helps women have a calm and peaceful birth

What to know

  • Users claim the tracks and calming voice make them fall asleep - which may not actually be a bad thing!

What Mumsnet users say

“I read Mindful Hypnobirthing by Sophie Fletcher with my first (you can get from the library) and it gave me confidence in myself. You can just listen to the tracks. I do think to some extent it promotes intervention free birth, so take some of it with a pinch of salt!” (Vetted by Mumsnet user Fighoney)

Our verdict

Rating: 4/5

A qualified doula, Sophie Fletcher has plenty of experience to share when it comes to childbirth, but this book and the downloadable hypnosis and relaxation tracks will help you feel more calm and relaxed throughout pregnancy too.

Founder of Mindful Mama and a qualified hypnotherapist, Sophie provides emotional and physical advice for women wanting a calmer birth experience, sharing real-life experiences of women who’ve used hypnosis techniques to have a successful pregnancy and labour. Downloadable tracks include soothing hypnosis and relaxation messages to help you feel positive and calm during pregnancy and keep in control of your mind and body as your labour progresses - be warned though, it may well send you to sleep! 

For anyone who wants to have a calm and peaceful birth, this book will tell you everything you need to know about hypnobirthing and how to achieve it.

Related: Pregnant and in need of a wardrobe overhaul? Discover the best maternity clothes according to Mumsnet users, from the comfiest maternity leggings to the most supportive, non-mumsy maternity bras.

Does hypnobirthing actually work?

While it hasn’t been scientifically proven, lots of women find hypnobirthing an effective pain relief technique. Using a mixture of self-hypnosis, breathing techniques and relaxation, it can help women to feel more calm during labour. Research into hypnosis-based interventions has found that it can reduce fear and pain and enhance a feeling of self control

This can be especially useful if you are anxious or stressed about childbirth as using controlled breathing and visualisation can help you feel more at ease during labour. This can allow you to focus more on your body and your baby and less about what is going on around you. 

When should I start practising hypnobirthing?

There’s really no set time for this so it’s totally up to you. Obviously, the more time you give yourself to learn the techniques the better - especially if you plan on doing a course - but you can start as early as say six weeks or as late as 34 weeks, or even later.

Some people struggle to learn the relaxation techniques so allowing yourself plenty of time to practise is better, but if you decide later in the pregnancy that you would like to learn about hypnobirthing you can still practise some of the exercises in time for your birth.

Can you teach yourself hypnobirthing?

Absolutely. You don’t have to go to classes to learn about hypnobirthing, there’s plenty of ways you can teach yourself at home. This includes reading books, listening to hypnosis tracks and podcasts which will all teach you the techniques you can use during childbirth. 

Do you push during hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing uses breathing techniques to gently encourage a baby out rather than pushing. Traditionally, pushing encourages you to hold your breath, whereas hypnobirthing teaches you to trust your body to be able to give birth and use breathing techniques to gently encourage your baby out.

How do you breathe during hypnobirthing?

According to The Positive Birth Company, women should use up and down breathing techniques. Up breathing is used during the first stage of labour where the uterine muscles are drawing up and your cervix is dilating to 10cm. It is a technique which is also used for helping people with insomnia and anxiety. It requires breathing in for four and breathing out for eight. Do this four times to help you breathe through a surge (also known as a contraction) - you can practise this during pregnancy.

Down breathing is using your breath with a purpose. When you feel your muscles push down - this can feel like you need a poo - you use your breath to help. Take a quick deep breath in and then breathe out, sending your breath down your body with purpose. Do this each time you feel a surge build and it can help your baby’s head move down the vagina.

What is the best hypnobirthing book and tool to buy?

A Mumsnet favourite, the book Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make Your Birth Better by Siobhan Miller is the best hypnobirthing book to buy right now. It explores hypnobirthing, common myths and provides useful information to help women prepare for all kinds of childbirth. 

Using a range of techniques, including self-hypnosis and visualisation, the book can help you feel more calm and confident during labour, leading to less chance of intervention and reduced pain.

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