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Santa Monica Couple Champion Hypnobirthing Trend

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Santa Monica family is championing the benefits of an unconventional birthing technique after welcoming their baby daughter.

Hayley Schwartzkopf, who welcomed her 2-year-old daughter with husband Ryan through natural birth, decided to bond with their unborn child through hypnobirth.

It’s a technique that uses a combination of relaxation, breathing and visualization to control labor and birthing pains.

“Now we have a 2-year-old … so it is nice in the evening after we’ve put our older one to bed to just kind of breathe and connect with this one,” Hayley said while expecting.

CBS2’s Sandra Mitchell reports the technique has over the years become a popular way of birthing. The practice is now available in 44 countries around the world and the number of those taking hypnobirth courses has doubled in recent years  as hospitals such as Cedars-Sinai Medical Center become more accepting of a woman’s desire to be in control of her labor and delivery.

Hypnobirth instructor Alisha Tamburri teaches parents the theory and techniques of hypnobirthing at Two Hearts Yoga in Sherman Oaks.

Parents meet weekly for five weeks to learn the foundation for a natural, calm birth.

“We’re either relaxed or we are stressed. So moms start to condition and program their body and minds to relax,” the instructor explained.

The Schwartzkopfs attended every Thursday for three hours, learning slow, smooth breathing to counteract any fear associated with childbirth.

During the sessions, mothers also learn visualization, and are taught to imagine the baby easily descending and leaving her body — so often that the image gets imprinted in her mind.

The technique, Alisha said, is referred to as “breathing the baby down.”

In the second class, the fathers teach their partners to go into hypnosis.

“I think part of it is doing these exercises. I feel like she opened up to more intervention from me,” Ryan said.

The family welcomed their newborn, Lilah, at the Gracefull Birthing Center in Silver Lake. She was born an hour and 17 minutes after Hayley’s first contraction.

“The hypnobirthing worked all throughout my labor. It was wonderful,” Hayley said, although Ryan concedes all did not go according to plan.

“I did try to put my hand on her belly and I said, ‘Breathe into my hand,’ and she threw my hand away. And at that point she was beyond that,” he laughed.

“I actually did use the technique myself and reminded myself to breathe. Because I figured if I’m calm, I can help her stay calm,” he said.

A midwife support team was there for the labor, delivery and postpartum care.

Hypnobirthing has been around for 22 years. It costs from $400 to $600, depending on the city.

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