hypnobirthing (the concept) broadly covers a lot of things. When you say "Hypnobirthing" (with a capital letter), you are usually referring to The Mongan Method, which is a single book with a single CD by one author. It is quite popular because it is cheap and easy to do on your own 0 look for it on Amazon. "Hypnobabies" is another hypnobirthing program, but it is a complete childbirth preparation course including weeks of classes (with an instructor or at home) and 6 CDs. It is much more comprehensive. And more expensive (www.hypnobabies.com)
I used Hypnobabies with my first birth and will do it again with this one. With either method, I think it is important to have a MINIMUM of 4-6 weeks practice time before you hit 38 weeks. Hypnobabies is run in 5-week courses before you hit "maintenance," so I'm planning to start my program again at 32 weeks. I'm kinda surprised a pp said her friend was told they wouldn't need a doula or anything. Doulas can be really helpful with hypnobirthing, especially if your DH isn't 100% in the program! I'm a Hypno-Doula with the Hypnobabies program, and will be a attending a hypnobirth with the Mongan Method in March. I think a hypno-doula could be helpful for someone who loses their focus.
My personal experience from my birth with Hypnobabies - I really liked the practice sessions, but when labor started, it just didn't feel right for me to put my headphones on and seclude myself. SO I chose to listen to the CDs on our regular stereo, and I preferred the Affirmations and Special Place CDs to the Birth Day CD. It was so calming in my house...my MW fell asleep on the couch.
My labor lasted for 17 hours, and 16.5 of those hours were painfree. I was getting uncomfortable, but the visualizations and relaxation I was able to achieve through the self-hypnosis were awesome. It is funny...you don't really know if it is working when it is working...but looking back on it, and knowing that even 30 minutes before my baby was born, I wasn't experiencing any pain, it MUST have been working. The last 30 minutes were tough, as I hit transition like a runaway train. BUT, my transition was only 15 minutes, and pushing was involuntary and only 15 minutes...so I think that is a fair trade for it being a rough finish. Now that I know what to expect, I hope that I can keep a handle on that transition this time.
I've known a good handful of moms who've achieved painfree births with Hypnobabies. I'm hoping to be one of them this time. Feel free to post more questions if you want.