I did some research on both for home studies, and decided on Hypnobabies, because of two things:
1. Hypnobirthing seems (from what I've read and what other mamas have told me) to focus on painfree as being a natural state during labor, which IME, is not the case. Maybe for some mamas, but not for me.
Hypnobabies however, focuses on positive terminology and that hypnosis
is a natural state.
To me, there's a key difference. One is basically dismissing experience with pain; the other is acknowledging the pain but encouraging ways to deal with it. Maybe that's subtle, but it's key to me. Hypnobabies focuses on hypnotic self-induced anesthesia, which not only is acknowledging there is pain but it's effectively arming you to deal with it yourself. That gives a greater sense of control, which is reassuring to me.
2. Hypnobirthing seems (again, from what I've read, etc.) to be better suited to a homebirth, or environment with fewer distractions.
Hypnobabies allows for the same level of hypnosis in an environment where you need to move and interact constantly as well as one with few distractions. For me, not having a homebirth, going to a birthing center/hospital, yet wanting to labor at home, and having a toddler here, I need something that accommodates lots of distractions.
Hypnobabies trains you to deepen your hypnosis on two levels: one that's complete anesthesia from head to toe and the other is from above your breasts to your midthighs, which leaves you able to move freely and interact, etc.
I don't know if Hypnobirthing offers the same accommodation or not.
Now, that all sounds like Hypnobirthing isn't "as good as" Hypnobabies and whether that's the case or not, I haven't a clue, because I haven't studied Hypnobirthing.
And taking a class can offer a very different experience with either of these techniques than home study, I'm sure. So that's something else to consider for sure, as PPs have pointed out.
But I will tell you that for the past few days I've been dealing with prodromal labor and when the contractions get intense, AUTOMATICALLY the Hypnobabies scripts start in my head and I start breathing and doing the techniques. It's been amazing really. I was totally caught off guard the first time it happened, but was thrilled, too.
I've been listening to the CDs from about 27 weeks on, and was able to get ahold of the written materials too, and while some of it is hokey (I think you'll find that with both), the basis is very sound and it has helped me sleep and relax so much better than I did last pregnancy. And from the experience I've had with contractions this week, and painful sacrum issues at night for months now, it's been very helpful there as well.
I'm quite confident that it will make a huge difference in my labor this time, and highly recommend Hypnobabies just based on the positive experience I've had thus far. That alone has been worth it.