Parent Q&A

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  • Hi,

    I’m looking for support for my second birth. I have anxiety over giving birth due to my first birth experience. I saw some recommendations for hypnotherapists/midwives from a 2006 post, but it appears the people recommended are no longer in the area. Does anyone have any current recommendations of individuals who specialize in this area of hypnotherapy?

    Thanks in advance. 

    Hi there, 

    Congrats! Although I didn't take her classes directly, I purchased Rachel Yellin's hypnobirthing audio tracks and used them throughout my first pregnancy. The first time around, I had a smooth, un-medicated delivery in a hospital with midwives. Listening to those meditations alone were so helpful, allowing me to have a very relaxing and positive birth experience, despite the anxiety I carried with me through the pregnancy. I'm also pregnant with my second and planning to have a home birth. I'm considering her video course online (not sure if she is seeing in-person clients, she's based in SF), but will definitely be using the audio tracks again this time around! Hope that's helpful. 

    I worked with Deborah Saliby in a similar circumstance and found it highly effective to resolve lingering anxiety after a difficult first pregnancy. Not sure what her practice is like with COVID-19 these days but as far as I know she's still teaching yoga online...https://deborahsalibyyoga.com/hypnotherapy 

    I didn't end up doing any sessions with her, but you can reach out to www.kathywoo.com. She is local and is a hypnobirthing instructor. I ended up doing one of the courses online. There is a very supportive facebook group too: https://www.facebook.com/groups/betterbirthstoriesroom.

    Hi there. I highly recommend Rachel Yellen’s birthing classes. She offers online classes with recordings focused on deep relaxation. She also offered (not sure what the situation is currently) in person classes at the SF JCC. Definitely geared toward a birth with minimal intervention as well, so lots of talk around refusing certain aspects of medical treatment standard in hospitals. Lots of home birth talk too. Something to be aware of before signing up.

    Rachel also does hypnosis sessions separate from the classes, though these would likely be virtual since she’s based in SC these days. She’s super down to earth.

    Also, if you’re looking to unpack your last birth experience with someone, Sandra Lloyd came recommended to me. I didn’t visit her, but a friend of mine did, and my doula recommended her highly.

    Best wishes to you.

  • Hi,

    I recently posted about birthing classes, so thank you everyone who chimed in - very helpful.  I think my husband and I have decided to try a natural birth, in the hospital.  But, I do think having a doula is a good idea.  If anyone has suggestions on a Doula they would highly recommend, please send a response.

    Also, given the natural birth approach, is anyone familiar with hypno birthing classes in the area?  Maybe the doula helps with this?  I did hear of one class taught by Kathy Woo... does anyone have experience with this class?

    Thank you!


    I am currently in Kathy Woo's class and I cannot reccomend it enough. 

    Im still pregnant so I can't speak to the efficacy of Hypnobirthing itself, but Kathy has given me so much information and confidence about the whole process. 

    I honestly don't understand how anyone could go into the birthing process without taking a class like Kathy's!!!

    She is so funny, relatable and knowledgeable I wish she was still doing Doula work! 

    I am not using a doula, my husband is very confident after this class that he'll be able to play that role. 

    Hi there! I just wanted to respond to recommend my doula who was absolutely amazing. I met her through Birthways meet the doula night and felt an instant connection with her. Her name is Shoshana Friedman Hawk and you can check her out on http://www.encirclingmothers.com/

    Hi Andrea,

    While I did not use Yume as my doula, I did utilize her for accupuncture to try to induce my labor naturally. You can learn more about her here:


    She was very responsive and I would be open to using her as my doula for future pregnancies. 

    I recently had a natural birth at Alta Bates that was attended by one of their staff midwives, my husband and my doula (who I would recommend, but this is not her usual line of work). If you have any questions I'd be more than happy to chat or type with you about the experience. 

    All the best,


    Hi Andrea,

    I highly recommend Blythe Lee of 3 Daughters Doula. In addition to delivery, she does 3 prenatal visits and talks about the process in a very scientific and engaging way. Then 1-2 postpardum visits.  She is so warm and easy to connect with. Both my husband and I felt like we had known her for years after our first meeting. She worked with the hospital staff very well and they were happy to have her help.  Happy to give more details if you want to message me personally.


    I can recommend Judy Sarna - (contact judysarna<at>icloud<dot>com):  She is a DONA Certified Doula/Postpartum Doula, and also a certified HBCE (HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator).  She was recommended to me by my friend, who is also a childbirth educator.   I worked with her during my Postpartum period, and she was so great that I wished I had known for before my birth! 

    I highly recommend Britt Urban. I worked with her for the birth of my son in March and had a wonderful experience. 


    i would highly recommend Shoshana Friedman-Hawk and Lori Jaffe. They work as a team and were absolutely incredible. Working with Shoshana and Lori was the single best decision that we made in creating our birth plan. From the expert and thoughtful pre and post natal support and education that they provided, to the immense support throughout labor, we couldn't be more grateful. 

    Shoshana was on call when I went into labor 2 weeks early. She was the first call that I made, and helped me find a sense of calm, remain grounded and take the steps that I needed to when my mind was in a million places. This was the case throughout the entire process. Shoshana provided steady, grounded and comforting support during the most vulnerable time in my life. She had a fabulous way of helping me mentally reframe the pain into positivity in regards to the baby progressing just the way she should be and making her way down to greet the world. She created a sense of excited anticipation in a time that I could have easily gotten mentally lost in the pain. Shoshana was incredibly empowering. She was steady and comforting and knew just the techniques to manage the pain, distract me when necessary, and even managed to make me laugh during labor. 

     While Lori wasn't on call when we went into labor, she was a wealth of knowledge during our pre and post natal visits, not to mention that she also stopped in twice throughout labor and brought so much warmth and support with her. We felt so genuinely cared for, and Lori went above and beyond.  Shoshana and Lori are a fantastic team and we felt like they had become part of our family throughout the process of working with them. We will absolutely be wanting to work with them again if the opportunity presents itself.

    I worked with Lori Jaffe as a postpartum doula, though she is also a birth doula. She was a rock-steady presence for me as I navigated those disorienting first few weeks and months of parenthood. Her calmness and confidence with a baby was a comfort and an education to me. I learned innumerable tips from her every time she came over, and I also felt totally secure leaving my baby in her capable hands as I took the time to do some things for myself. I appreciate that Lori is good mix of spiritual and practical -- she prefers natural methods as much as possible, but also puts a premium on what's safe and (every new parent's urgent need) what actually *works* for your baby. It's clear that she really cares for each baby she works with, as she still checks in with me and wants to know how my little boy is doing, even though she is no longer coming regularly to our house. Plus, she brings what moms of newborns often need most of all: good company!

    Lori also made a huge impact on childbirth for me, even though she was not officially my birth doula. When my water starting leaking early, she responded quickly to my texts and calls and guided us on how long to wait before going to the hospital. Because of her, I was able to wait, spend a quiet night at home, avoid the labor induction that the hospital wanted to give me, and deliver quickly and naturally when baby was ready.

    Lori is at https://doulamatch.net/profile/9208/lori-jaffe

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions & Advice Related Pages

2010 - 2014 Reviews

Looking for a hypnobirthing class that starts soon

June 2014

Hi There, my due date is in less than 2 months and have just discovered the benefits of hypnobirthing. I really can't afford a private hypnobirth consultant so I would prefer to take a class. Does anyone know of a good class offered in the summer. Is anyone familiar with Deborah Saliby's class? in need of hypnobirth

I'd like to suggest the HypnoBabies home study course. I had an amazing birthing experience with this technique. The great thing about the home study course is that you can do it on your own schedule, and it is affordable. There is a listserv where you can post questions if need be. Hilla

For my third childbirthing experience, I went to Kathy Woo and she is amazing. She is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Depth Hypnosis Practitioner, and HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator. For more information, please visit: www.kathywoo.com or email her at info [at] kathywoo.com The full series can be taken anytime between 16 weeks - 34 weeks or pregnancy. For folks who are interested and cannot take a full class, she offers semi- private classes which are shorter and more flexible with scheduling. She also offers refresher courses for folks looking for a quick review. A.B.

2005 - 2009 Reviews

Hypnotherapy for labor pain management

May 2009

I'm pregnant with my first baby and exploring my options for natural pain management - there are a lot of classes out there and i'd love to try them all (if i had the time and the money) but since i can't i'd love some updated recommendations. Did you take a hypnobirthing class to prepare for labor and what was the experience like? Do you recommend a specific instructor or class? Also, did you take other childbirth classes that you found more or less helpful than hypnobirthing, such as a mindfulness and meditation class? I'm still trying to understand what hypnobirthing is or how it differs from other meditation practices that focus on the breath. The archived postings on this subject are over 5 years old so I'd really appreciate your updated recommendations. Thanks! Laura

I've had 2 hypno babies, both great births. Every baby and every birth is different, of course. But what I felt hypno gave me that other classes didn't was a combination of the relaxation/meditation techniques AND a good overview of the mechanics of birth -- what was going on at each stage and what to do to help your body do what it's trying to do. It was sort of an idea of just getting out of the way and letting your body do its thing as much as possible, which really appealed to me. I don't think I was ever really ''hypnotized,'' at least not in the sense that I think of it. But I was very relaxed -- the nurses didn't believe I was minutes away from delivering my 1st kid. :) If you have the idea already that birth is a natural process and you want to help that happen, hypno can be a great tool, especially if you've done meditation/hypnosis before or if you're an athlete or otherwise used to mind-over-body control. Some of the hypno stuff seemed kind of new-agey to ! me, but overall I liked it. I've also heard good things about the Bradley Method -- seems to be more of a middle ground between hypno and Lamaze. Good luck with your birth! Hypno Mama

I took a Hypnobirthing class with Carrie Flemming, who is also a doula. http://www.carrieflemming.com/about.htm I would be happy to share my personal experience... I am very proud to say that I stuck to the hypnobirthing for labor and delivery and had a wonderful experience without any intervention. As for how it differs from other meditation practices, I am not sure - but hypnobirthing is really a way to focus and create visualizations that prepare you for the birth. The classes are geared toward gaining understanding of the birth process as well as relaxation. best of luck, it is an amazing journey! elise

My partner and I took Betsy Appell's wonderful hypnobirthing class and we both used it to great effect in my peaceful, meditative home birth. Betsy is an experienced doula, an apprentice midwife, a yoga teacher and a mom. I highly recommend her course and hypnobirthing in general. Her web site is: http://berkeleydoula.com/zenclass.html. Elizabeth

Congratulations! I decided to do Hypnobirthing, after researching my options. I took a class at Birthways from Betsy Appel, who I thought was WONDERFUL. She not only teaches you about Hypnobirthing, but combines elements of all of the most effective methods of pain management, and she is a highly experienced mindfulness meditation teacher as well! She is also a doula, and a mom, so she is incredibly experienced, knowledgeable, honest and supportive. I really appreciated her candor and integrity with the process. We ended up hiring her to be our doula, we were so impressed with the class. I feel that taking Hypnobirthing, especially from Betsy, made a HUGE difference for me. I had a wonderful, drug-free birth (I never even wanted an epidural). I cannot recommend her highly enough. She has her own web site. I think it's www.sfdoula.com, but she's actually based in Berkeley. Happy Betsy Student

I highly recommend Betsy Appel's hypnobirthing class. Very knowledgeable teacher, super comfortable environment, all the important information, but not an overload. I think Betsy is great!! Find her at Berkeleydoula.com. Amanda

I can give a more recent recommendation for betsy appell (who is already well represented in previous posts). we took a zen birthing (her spin on hypnobirthing, in which she is fully trained) class with her in 2007 out of her home. it was very useful and informative and covered a lot of ground. i remember the slogans that we read and created (things like: there are thousands of other women laboring at the same time right now) to have been particularly helpful for me during labor. we also took a much shorter childbirth prep class (only 3 sessions on saturday afternoons) taught by saraswati at yogalayam on adeline and ellis. though it was done in less of a this-is-what-some-different-birth-scenarios-look-like kinda way, it really complemented betsy's class in that it was much more exploratory in a physical way and there was more eclectic info. saraswati's infectious character and stories of many births over the years helped to put me in a powerful place during labor. i! had a wonderful birth experience and feel that i owe so much of it to those two women. good luck in your search! haia

I took a hypnobirthing class with Deborah Saliby and highly recommend it. Deborah also teaches a prenatal yoga class at 7th heaven Yoga Studio in Berkeley. You can get more information from her there or visit her website: http://www.envisionings.com/. I will be giving birth in a hospital and I feel like the hypnobirthing classes have given me the knowledge on how to deal with the hospital staff and more confidence that I will end up having a natural birth. Marisa

Betsy Appell's Zen Birthing class was probably the single most important thing that we did during my partner's pregnancy!! We learned vital skills to enable my partner to have the natural childbirth that she really wanted to have. We learned and practiced exercises that prepared us and helped make us a wonderfully strong birth team. The birth process was an incredible and beautiful experience for us and we truly believe that the class was foremost in helping us make that happen. Betsy is a great teacher, skilled and knowledgeable in the field of mediation and childbirth. We also had a fun time in the class and met some great people. I highly recommend Betsy and the class. Here's the website: http://berkeleydoula.com/zenclass.html. Kim

I did hypnobirthing with my first (and only) baby about 6 years ago now, with Kristin Nemzer. It was amazing. I took private sessions with her (although I think she also does group classes). I did not have ANY pain, it was all self-coached during the actual birth, and I gave birth 100% naturally in 3 and a half hours. Her website is http://www.kristinnemzer.com/ Don't believe anyone who tells you that birth HAS to be painful. I understand that for a lot of women it is, but for me it was a very pleasurable experience. I may have just been lucky, but I think hypnobirthing gave me the confidence to trust in my body. Adinah

Note: 3 reviews were also received for Bradley Method Childbirth Classes

May 2009

Re: Birthways vs. Kaiser for childbirth prep class

I got sooo much out of Betsy Appell's Zen Hypno-Birthing Class (www.berkeleydoula.com/zenclass.html). She increased my confidence, was savvy to hospital and home births, and it was such a calming, relaxing environment to come to each week. We Learned breathing skills, positions, partner exercises, and more! She's a fabulous teacher and as my midwife did a beautiful job catching my baby! Courtney

Sept 2005

Does anyone have any experience with hypnosis for childbirth? I'm having my first baby this year, and I'm wondering what experiences, if any, anyone in this community has had with Hypbirth or any other programs. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks! Dari

I had a great experience with hypnobirthing (ask me about my drug-free 2.5-hour first-baby labor!). It doesn't work for everyone, but if you are already confident that your body was designed for birth and that there's a ''better way'' than Lamaze, etc., hypno can give you the tools to achieve your goal. Definitely check it out and see if it ''clicks'' with you and your philosophy. I've even used the visualization techniques for pain management and healing in other (non-birthing) aspects of my health care. I took my hypno class from Deborah Saliby of Berkeley. anon

May 2005

I am seeking information on the wherabouts of my excellent hygienist from Nate Kaufman's office. Her name is Beth Davie. The practice was sold and the new owners took over her patients. Her skills, both personally and professionally are great. I (and several other patients) want to find out where she went. Does any one have any information? We would like to follow her to her new location. mww

Kristin Nemzer is great. she offers classes in SF.

  (415) 902-0550 info AT hypnobirthingsf.com http://www.deepinsighthypnosis.com/ 


So happy to have a chance to recommend my hypnobirthing coach and doula, Betsy Appell. You can check out her extensive qualifications at http://www.berkeleydoula.com . She includes the option of a free hypnobirthing class when you sign her up as your doula, or you can just take the class. We went the first route, and it was fantastic. I had a very long labor - 38+ hours, and used hypnobirthing techniques throughout. The first night, my husband coached me as Betsy had taught him at home, and when he fell asleep I continued her techniques on my own. We were able to labor for more than 24 hours at home quite comfortably, and thanks to Betsy's training I knew exactly when to go to the hospital, arriving at 5cm. Because the baby was in an imperfect position (arm wrapped around head) it took me 8 hours to go from 7 cm to 10 cm, which my books had told me was the most painful part of labor. With Betsy's help, I was able to breathe through the contractions and relax my body so deeply that I almost didn't feel the pain. I spent over an hour at 9 cm, while Betsy guided me through relaxation and visualization, so calm that without a monitor no one would have known I was having contractions at all. She's WONDERFUL. Down to earth, caring, knowledgeable, so excited about helping her clients have a positive birth experience. I had exactly the birth I hoped for, and I couldn't have done it without her. rebecca

Betsy Appell is an experienced, caring doula specializing in hypnosis. She was with me for the birth of my first child in 2004 and was fantastic. Her website is berkeleydoula.com. Beatrice

I took Deborah Saliby's hynobirthing class in 2003 and had a very successful and satisfying hypnobirth. While I don't have any experience with other instructors to compare her to, I found Deborah very compassionate and open. She didn't feel there was just one ''right'' kind of birth, and wasn't just advocating natural childbirth as the only route, but instead showing how hypno can help in many situations. (She herself had a difficult, high-intervention birth before she discovered hypno, so she speaks from experience.) She's also a prenatal yoga instructor and brought some yoga into her teachings as well. I would recommend her. JP

I highly recommend doing hypnosis in preparation for and during a birth. My husband and I worked with a terrific doula -- Betsy Appell (http://www.berkeleydoula.com) -- for the birth of my first child in October 2004. She trained us in hypnobirthing techniques during our pre-natal visits with her, and gave us great materials -- meditations on CD, relaxation excercises, readings, etc. -- to use leading up to the birth. These hypnobirhing techniques made me much more relaxed about going into the birth, and directly contributed to being able to have a natural childbirth, even after being induced and having to discard many other aspects of our birth plan. I will definitely work with Betsy and use hypnobirthing for my next birth. Lori

Betsy Appell (http://berkeleydoula.com/) is a doula who practices hypnobirthing and also leads hypnobirthing seminars in an intimate setting. My husband & I found the techniques we learned in her class quite helpful. She is an experienced doula who is knowledgeable and easy to be around. Tracey

2004 & Earlier

Nov 2003

Has anyone tried hypno birthing? Hypnosis to deal with pain in labor? Private classes, Birthways classes, etc??? If so, I'd love to hear about your experiences, advice, suggestions. I'm considering it...

I took a wonderful hypnobirthing class at Natural Resources, a natural childbirth education center in San Francisco (www.naturalresourcesonline.com). They meet once a week for five weeks, if I remember correctly (evening class). I planned to give birth at a non-hospital facility. I went into labor a week late and labored at home for 12 hours with absolutely zero problems and very little pain (somewhat like mild cramps you might have with a period). Unfortunately for me, my OB and the midwives who practiced with him, who did not use ultrasound prior to my due date, didn't know that my baby was breech, with one leg crossed horizontally over my cervix. Vaginal delivery wasn't a possibility, despite full dialation. I ended up having ! an emergency c-section after the midwives at the birth facility saw the baby presenting a single foot instead of a head. So, although I can't speak to the full birth experience with hypnobirthing, I moved to full dialation and some pushing and didn't find the experience particularly painful at all. That said, I did have some difficulty when I felt the urge to push so early (common with breech delivery) and was still a long drive from the birth facility. Things got pretty dicy when we moved to the hospital from the birth facility for the c-section. In my opinion, fear had a lot to do with the difficult parts of my delivery, because once I got frightened (both of the process and for my baby), I had a very difficult time practicing the relaxation techniques that had allowed me to progress so far in labor without pain. Personally, if I have a second child, I will definitely opt for a VBAC and wor! k with a hypnotherapist and the hypnobirthing method again. It really seems possible to me (from my experience) to have a natural delivery with a minimum amount of pain and distress. And, as a HUGE bonus, your baby will not be exposed to drugs in utero. Further information about the course taught at Natural Resources is available at www.hypnobirthing.com. I'd really recommend the course. Even if you choose a more medically oriented delivery the hypnobirthing course is great preparation. Also, my doula was a fabulous resource. I strongly recommend you have one (I'd recommend her, but she's not practicing right now due to family obligations of her own.) I'm no doctor, but if you'd like to talk to me directly about my experience feel free to contact me. Best of luck! Catherine

I STRONGLY recommend hypnobirthing. I didn't do it myself, but I will for my next pregnancy! My friend used hypnobirthing for her 2nd pregnancy and said it was *amazing.* After giving birth to a healthy baby boy, she felt as if she'd had 12 hours of sleep instead of 12 hours of labor. After a 3 hour nap, she was ready to go home. While the hypnobirthing won't releive pain *completely,* it makes it possible for you to relax into it and let your body's natural endorphins kick in and make it bearable. I have anothe friend who is due at the end of this month who will be doing hypnobirthing, also. Check it out! Pro-hypnobirthing

June 2003

I am pregnant with my first child and I am just overwhelmed with information on different kinds of birthing classes (methods). One that seems particularly interesting is hypnobirthing. Does any one have personal experience with this method? I would love to hear your experiences and recommendations on the method itself and on hypnobirthing educators. Thanks! Marcia

Deborah Saliby teaches hypnobirthing seminars and one-day workshops. We went to a one-day workshop, which was very nice, and even my super-skeptical husband felt pretty comfortable with it. Her seminars have gotten a lot of local and worldwide media attention, of late, so they may fill up fast. Her number is 510-644-1395. Does hypnobirthing work? I can't say: I ended up having a very complicated, very early delivery, which was highly medicalized, as they say (a situation I'm not lamenting: my baby and I would be dead if it weren't for much maligned Western medicine). However, as things got scarier, I did find it very useful to fall back on some of the self-hypnosis and calming breathing techniques we practiced in the one-day workshop. anon

Try Deborah Saliby 644-1395, she offers a one-day workshop or a series. We did the 1 day workshop, it was very good at helping me trust my body to do its job; birth is not done w/ the intellect! Also her pre-natal classes are great and the breathing I learned (and practiced each night) turned out to be what I used during labor to dissolve the pain and move along (no meds, most labor at home, a great birth experience). Kristine

Try Makini Duewa, a doula certified in hypnobirthing. She'll be able to tell you more about it and give you classes if you're interested. Phone is (510) 625-1395. Brightstar

Hi- Try Carolyn Schaffer in Berkeley. I found her voice to be very soothing and her technique really helped me to relax on my own.

Does it work? Well, I ended up with a c-section due to a breech discovered at the last minute. However, I can quote something that Carolyn said when I expressed my fears of what could potentially go wrong, not allowing me to get to natural birth process. ''No matter WHAT happens, the more relaxed you remain, the easier the whole process will be.'' While this may sound like plain old common sense, it really hit home with me. She was right. I used the hypnotherapy during my external version procedure and it did help me to relax. I also used it during breastfeeding.

My girlfriend also practiced hypnotherapy (she lives out of the area, so I can't recommend her teacher) Anyhow, her first birth couldn't have gone much better. She labored and pushed for a total of 4 hours and went home that evening. Her second one was also very fast however, it was an emergency c-section due to fetal distress. In both cases, she used hypnotherapy to remain calm.

So, my final thought is that pain manifests differently in everyone. Using relaxation techniques of any kind are proven to aid in pain management for most people. It's important to find what works for YOU, whether it be hypnotherapy, lamaze, or any other type of relaxation technique. In the end, just because you practice the art of hypnotherapy or any other relaxation technique, it doesn't mean you will have an uncomplicated birth, however, if it helps you to relax just when you need to most, it will be well worth the effort. I will definitely try hypnotherapy with Carolyn for my second birth.

Hope this helps! Tiffany

This is a response to Alesia asking about hypnosis: I am an RN & Marriage and Family Therapist and include hypnosis and guided imagery in my private practice. I do groups and work individually with women using hypnosis and imagery for child birth. I would be happy to answer any questions and can be reached at sonja AT imageryworks DOT net