Hypnotherapy in childbirth

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, which can be diminished[1] or anecdotally eliminated with hypnotherapy. Research into this practice has found reductions in pain during birthing,[1][2] Hypnobirthing may also impact the duration of labour and reduces surgical interventions during delivery.[3]


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.[4][5][6][7][8][9]


In 1942, Childbirth without Fear was published; written by English obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read. The book introduced the idea of using hypnotherapy for childbirth.[10]

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,[11] 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.[12][13]

However, there have been studies confirming the claims that, compared to general population figures, hypnosis and self-hypnosis during childbirth leads to:[5][14][15]

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.[15][16][17]


  1. 1 2 Mendoza, M. E.; Capafons, A. (2009). "Efficacy of clinical hypnosis: A summary of its empirical evidence" (PDF). Papeles del Psicólogo. pp. 98–116.
  2. Smith, C. A.; Collins, C. T.; Cyna, A. M.; Crowther, C. A. "Complementary and alternative therapies for pain management in labour" (PDF). The University of Adelaide, Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
  3. Harmon, Theresa M.; Hynan, Michael T. (1990). "Improved obstetric outcomes using hypnotic analgesia and skill mastery combined with childbirth education" (PDF). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 58 (5). doi:10.1037/0022-006x.58.5.525.
  4. Mongan, Marie F. (2005). HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method: A Natural Approach To A Safe, Easier, More Comfortable Birthing (3rd Edition). HCI.
  5. 1 2 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.
  6. Phillips-Moore, J. (2005). "HypnoBirthing". TheAustralian Journal of Holistic Nursing. 12 (1): 41–2. Retrieved 22 September 2012.
  7. Wainer, N (2000). "HypnoBirthing. A radical change on our perspective of pain in childbirth.". Midwifery today with international midwife (55): 36–38. PMID 11189565.
  8. Mottershead, N (March 2006). "Hypnosis: removing the labour from birth.". The practising midwife. 9 (3): 26–7, 29. PMID 16562656.
  9. Graves, Katharine (2012). The HypnoBirthing Book - An inspirational guide for a calm, confident, natural birth. ISBN 978-0-9571445-0-7.
  10. Odent, Michel; Dick-Read, Grantly (2004). Childbirth without fear: the principles and practice of natural childbirth. Pinter & Martin. ISBN 0-9530964-6-7.
  11. 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.
  12. Sado, M.; Ota, E.; Stickley, A.; Mori, R. (2012). Sado, Mitsuhiro, ed. "Hypnosis during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal period for preventing postnatal depression". The Cochrane Library. 6: CD009062. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009062.pub2. PMID 22696381.
  13. Jones, L.; Othman, M.; Dowswell, T.; Alfirevic, Z.; Gates, S.; Newburn, M.; Jordan, S.; Lavender, T.; Neilson, J. P. (2012). Neilson, James P, ed. "Pain management for women in labour: an overview of systematic reviews". The Cochrane Library. 3: CD009234. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009234.pub2. PMID 22419342.
  14. 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.
  15. 1 2 Phillips-Moore, Julie (2012). "Birthing outcomes from an Australian HypnoBirthing programme". British Journal of Midwifery. 20 (8): 558–564.
  16. Jones, Shirley (2008). "HypnoBirthing. The breakthrough approach to safer, easier, comfortable birthing". British Journal of Midwifery. 16 (10): 694 – 694.
  17. ^ Graves, Katharine (2012). "The HypnoBirthing Book. An inspirational guide for a calm, confident, natural birth." ISBN 978-0-9571445-0-7.
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