Hypnosis in labour and childbirth - scientific research and studies
This is where you'll find links to articles about scientific research into the use of hypnosis for labour and childbirth.
Journal of Family Practice - "Effects of Hypnosis on the Labor Processes and Birth Outcomes of Pregnant Adolescents" states in its conclusion that:
Our study provides support for the use of hypnosis to aid in preparation of obstetric patients for labour and delivery. The reduction of complications, surgery, and hospital stay show direct medical benefit to mother and child and suggest the potential for a corresponding cost-saving benefit.
Hao et al in China measured the effect of nursing suggestions to labouring women and recommends that the conversation of the nurses be "controlled carefully for the purpose of advancing the birth process". This randomized control trial examined 60 first time mothers with a matched control group of 60 first time mothers and found a statistically significant reduction in the lengths of the first and second stages of labour.
Jenkins and Pritchard found a reduction of 3 hours for prim gravid women (from 9.3 hours to 6.4 hours) and 1 hour for multi gravid women (from 6.2 hours to 5.3 hours) for active labour (262 subjects and 600 controls). Pushing was statistically shorter for first time mothers (from 50 min to 37 min).
In a study that compared hypnosis and Lamaze training, 96 women chose between hypnosis (n=45) and Lamaze (n=51). The first stage of labour was shortened in the hypnosis group by 98 minutes for first time mothers and by 40 minutes for second time mothers. These women were more satisfied with labour and reported other benefits of hypnosis such as reduced anxiety and help with getting to sleep.
A British study found a statistically significant reduction in the length of labour of first and second time mothers: 70 hypnosis patients (6 h 21 min) compared to 70 relaxation patients (9 h 28 min) and 70 control group (9 h 45 min).
Mellegren noted a reduction of two to three hours of labour.
Abramson and Heron found a shorter first stage of labour for 100 women trained with hypnosis (by 3.23 hours) compared to a control group of 88 women. Forty-five Hypnosis for Childbirth clients (first time mothers) had an average of 4.5 hours for the active labour, a significant reduction compared to the usual 12 hours.
In a British study, 55% of 45 patients (first and second time mothers) required no medication for pain relief. In the other non-hypnosis groups, only 22% of 90 women required no medication. Two research pieces reported on 1,000 consecutive births: 850 women used hypnotic analgesia resulting in 58 percent rate of no medication. Five other research pieces reported an incidence of 60 to 79 percent non-medicated births.
A retrospective survey notes an epidural rate of 18 percent in Southern Ontario, where the epidural rate in most hospitals is 40 to 95 percent (depending on the setting) for first time mothers.
In a randomized control trial of 42 teenagers in Florida, none of the 22 patients in the hypnosis group experienced surgical intervention compared with 12 of the 20 patients in the control group (p=.000). Twelve patients in the hypnosis group experienced complications compared with 17 in the control group (p=.047).
Harmon, Hynan and Tyre reported more spontaneous deliveries, higher Agpar scores and reduced medication use in their study of 60 women. Of the 45 Hypnosis for Childbirth clients, 38 delivered without the use of caesarean, forceps or vacuum, a rate of spontaneous birth of 84%. This is a higher than average rate of normal birth for the general population of first time mothers.
In a randomized control trial of 42 teenagers in Florida, only 1 patient in the hypnosis group had a hospital stay of more than two days compared with 8 patients in the control group (p=.008).
McCarthy provided five 30-minute sessions to 600 women and found a virtual absence of postpartum depression, compared to the typical rates of 10 to 15 percent. Women with a history of postpartum depression did not develop this condition, even though an estimated 50 percent eventually do. Harmon et al also reported lower depression scores in the hypnotically treated group.
It appears that a simple intervention, hypnotherapy, has far-reaching effects both medically and socially. Some, but not all, of the above studies are randomized, have large numbers, include control groups and demonstrate statistical significance. There remains, therefore, a clear need for more research, in the use of hypnosis for childbirth preparation.
Research on the Internet
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Hao TY, Li YH, Yao
SF. Clinical study on shortening the birth process using psychological suggestion therapy. Zhonghua Hu Li Za Zhi. 1997 Oct; 32(10):568-70. (General Military Hospital of Jinan, P.R. China.)
Jenkins, M.W., & Pritchard, M.H.
Hypnosis: Practical applications and theoretical considerations in normal labour. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 100(3), 221-226, 1993.
Brann LR, Guzvica SA.
Comparison of hypnosis with conventional relaxation for antenatal and intrapartum use: A feasibility study in general practice. J R Coll Gen Pract 1987; 37:437-440.
Davidson, J, MD.
An assessment of the value of hypnosis in pregnancy and labour. Br Med Journal Oct 13, 1962, 951-953.
Practical experiences with a modified hypnosis-delivery. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 14, 425-428, 1966.
Abramson, M., & Heron, W.T.
An objective evaluation of hypnosis in obstetrics: Preliminary report. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 59, 1069-1074, 1950. Gallagher, S. Hypnosis for Childbirth: prenatal education and birth outcome. unpublished. June 2001. Davidson, J, MD.
Obstetric hypnoanesthesia. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 79, 1131-1137, 1960, and August, R.V. Hypnosis in obstetrics. New York: McGraw Hill, 1961.
Hornyak, Lynne M. and Joseph P. Green.
Healing From Within: The use of hypnosis in women's health care. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2000.
Alice A. Martin, PhD; Paul G. Schauble, PhD; Surekha H. Rai, PhD; and R. Whit Curry, Jr, MD
The Effects of Hypnosis on the Labor Processes and Birth Outcomes of Pregnant Adolescents. The Journal of Family Practice, MAY 2001, 50(5): 441-443.
Harmon, T.M., Hynan, M., & Tyre, T.E.
Improved obstetric outcomes using hypnotic analgesia and skill mastery combined with childbirth education. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 58, 525, 530, 1990.
Hypnosis for Childbirth: prenatal education and birth outcome. unpublished. June 2001.
Hypnosis in obstetrics. Australian Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 26, 35-42, 1998.