Hypnotherapy in childbirth

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Hypnotherapy in childbirth refers to the use of hypnotherapy to assist in the birthing process. This practice, known as hypnobirthing, functions on the premise that most labour-related pain is the result of fear and tension,[1] which can be diminished[2] or completely eliminated[3] with hypnotherapy. Research into this practice has found reductions in pain during birthing,[2][4] or no effect.[3] Hypnobirthing may also impact the duration of labour and reduces surgical interventions during delivery.[5]


Hypnotherapy during childbirth is based on the theory that to experience an easy and comfortable birth, women need to have an understanding of the way in which the uterus functions naturally during normal childbirth when unencumbered by fear, along with the ill effects of the fear-tension-pain cycle on the birthing process. Birthing women and their support partners are taught non-pharmacological strategies, such as relaxation, meditation and visualisation, that allow the body to birth normally without restrictions to assist in less painful, easier, more comfortable birthing.[6][7][8][9][10][11]


In 1942, Childbirth without Fear was published; written by English obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read. The book introduced the idea of using hypnotherapy for childbirth.[12]

Obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read first wrote about the use of hypnosis to reduce pain in the 1930s in his work on natural childbirth and since the 1980s a range of different techniques have been developed that utilize hypnosis in a natural childbirth.


Hypnosis is generally considered a controversial treatment. There have been studies refuting claims that hypnosis is effective in reducing or eliminating pain during childbirth. A 2004 research review found insufficient evidence to show that the technique is effective,[13] and two 2012 Cochrane reviews found that there was insufficient evidence to determine whether hypnosis is effective in managing or treating pain in childbirth or postnatal depression.[14][15]

However, there have been studies confirming the claims that, compared to general population figures, hypnosis and self-hypnosis during childbirth leads to:[7][16][17]

  • decreased average length of labour
  • lower cesarean section rates
  • decreased use of pain relief medication such as gas and epidurals
  • increased ease and comfort of labour and birth (self-reported and observed)
  • greater emotional satisfaction for mothers as a result of having their birthing partners informed, involved and supportive.

In addition to this, the majority of women experiencing hypnosis during childbirth in their second or subsequent births report feeling more in control, confident, relaxed and focused, and less fearful, than during their other birthing experiences.[17][18][19]

Deception of Hypnotherapy in childbirth[edit]

There are various programs using hypnotherapy to help during childbirth such as "HypnoBirthing - The Mongan Method," "Hypnobabies," "The Leclaire Hypnobirthing Method," and "Hypbirth." Although they may vary in name their goal is to help woman achieve a natural birth and painless birth with help of self-hypnosis. Although there are studies providing benefits of said programs, such as shorter labour, lower rates of C-sections and use of epidurals, and lower rate of pain and discomfort,[17][20] these studies contain low sample sizes that should not be generalized to the population. Furthermore, the HypnoBirthing Practitioner Certification costs about the same as a session of HypnoBirthing:

  • Certification: "Two day Introduction to Hypnosis $295 for doulas, midwives, nurses, , etc who are not certified hypnotists. Two day HypnoBirthing ® Practitioner Training $395 everyone must attend and two day birthing basics $170 for certified hypnotists with no birthing background." [21]
  • Sessions: "The five weeks of two and a half hours group classes cost $445.00 CAD" [22]

These demonstrate that it would be just as effective to do the certification rather than the sessions alone because it would be more financially smart to use the certification to provide the services to others. Finally, these programs take advantage of women who are likely fearful of childbirth[23] due to a lack of coping mechanisms.[24] These programs offer women the opportunity to learn relaxation techniques that will provide reassurance that they will have some control during childbirth. The programs also give women coping skills to use during birth. These skills could easily be learned in any other type of prepartum “childbirth education” at possibly cheaper rates and without the illusion that they will be completely pain free during childbirth.


  1. ^ Lawrence, Julia (16 February 2011). "Can 'hypnobirthing' really take the pain out of having a baby?". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Mendoza, M. E.; Capafons, A. (2009). "Efficacy of clinical hypnosis: A summary of its empirical evidence". Papeles del Psicólogo 30 (2). pp. 98–116. 
  3. ^ a b Squire, Alison Smith (9 April 2010). "Hypnosis and the natural birth debate: More and more women are opting to give birth under self hypnosis, but does it work?". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  4. ^ Smith, C. A.; Collins, C. T.; Cyna, A. M.; Crowther, C. A. "Complementary and alternative therapies for pain management in labour". The University of Adelaide, Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 
  5. ^ Harmon, Theresa M.; Hynan, Michael T. (1990). "Improved obstetric outcomes using hypnotic analgesia and skill mastery combined with childbirth education". Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 58 (5). 
  6. ^ Mongan, Marie F. (2005). HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method: A Natural Approach To A Safe, Easier, More Comfortable Birthing (3rd Edition). HCI. 
  7. ^ a b Sanjay Datta, Bhavani Shankar Kodali, Scott Segal (2010). "Non-pharmacological Methods for Relief of Labor Pain". Obstetric Anesthesia Handbook: 85–93. doi:10.1007/978-0-387-88602-2_7. 
  8. ^ Phillips-Moore, J. (2005). "HypnoBirthing". TheAustralian Journal of Holistic Nursing 12 (1): 41–2. Retrieved 22 September 2012. 
  9. ^ Wainer, N (2000). "HypnoBirthing. A radical change on our perspective of pain in childbirth.". Midwifery today with international midwife (55): 36–38. PMID 11189565. 
  10. ^ Mottershead, N (March 2006). "Hypnosis: removing the labour from birth.". The practising midwife 9 (3): 26–7, 29. PMID 16562656. 
  11. ^ Graves, Katharine (2012). The HypnoBirthing Book - An inspirational guide for a calm, confident, natural birth. ISBN 978-0-9571445-0-7. 
  12. ^ Odent, Michel; Dick-Read, Grantly (2004). Childbirth without fear: the principles and practice of natural childbirth. Pinter & Martin. ISBN 0-9530964-6-7. [page needed]
  13. ^ Cyna, A. M.; McAuliffe, G. L.; Andrew, M. I. (2004). "Hypnosis for pain relief in labour and childbirth: A systematic review". British Journal of Anaesthesia 93 (4): 505–511. doi:10.1093/bja/aeh225. PMID 15277295.  edit
  14. ^ Sado, M.; Ota, E.; Stickley, A.; Mori, R. (2012). "Hypnosis during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal period for preventing postnatal depression". In Sado, Mitsuhiro. "Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews". Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) 6: CD009062. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009062.pub2. PMID 22696381.  edit
  15. ^ Jones, L.; Othman, M.; Dowswell, T.; Alfirevic, Z.; Gates, S.; Newburn, M.; Jordan, S.; Lavender, T.; Neilson, J. P. (2012). "Pain management for women in labour: an overview of systematic reviews". In Neilson, James P. "Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews". Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) 3: CD009234. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009234.pub2. PMID 22419342.  edit
  16. ^ Eappen, Sunil; Robbins, Deborah (2002). "Nonpharmacological Means of Pain Relief for Labor and Delivery". International Anesthesiology Clinics 40 (4): 103–114. doi:10.1097/00004311-200210000-00009. 
  17. ^ a b c Phillips-Moore, Julie (2012). "Birthing outcomes from an Australian HypnoBirthing programme". British Journal of Midwifery 20 (8): 558–564. 
  18. ^ Jones, Shirley (2008). "HypnoBirthing. The breakthrough approach to safer, easier, comfortable birthing". British Journal of Midwifery 16 (10): 694 – 694. 
  19. ^ ^ Graves, Katharine (2012). "The HypnoBirthing Book. An inspirational guide for a calm, confident, natural birth." ISBN 978-0-9571445-0-7.
  20. ^ Jones, Shirley (2008). "HypnoBirthing. The breakthrough approach to safer, easier, comfortable birthing". British Journal of Midwifery 16 (10): 694 – 694. 
  21. ^ "Hypnobirthing practitioner from". 
  22. ^ [=http://www.hypnobirthingcanada.com/en-hnquestions.html "Q&A rate of class"]. 
  23. ^ Fenwick, J., Gamble, J., Nathan, E., Bayes, S., & Hauck, Y. (2009). Pre- and postpartum levels of childbirth fear and the relationship to birth outcomes in a cohort of Australian women. Journal Of Clinical Nursing, 18(5), 667-677. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2008.02568.x
  24. ^ Greer, J., Lazenbatt, A., & Dunne, L. (2014). ‘Fear of childbirth’ and ways of coping for pregnant women and their partners during the birthing process: a salutogenic analysis. Evidence Based Midwifery, 12(3), 95-100.