Evidence-Based Research Studies Supporting the use of Hypnosis for Childbirth Preparation

February 28, 2011

Hypnosis: practical applications and theoretical considerations in normal labour.

Jenkins MW, Pritchard MH. J Fam Pract 2001;50:441-443.


To assess the effects of hypnotherapy on the first and second stages of labour in a large group of pregnant women.

DESIGN: A semi-prospective case control study in which women attending antenatal clinics were invited to undergo


SUBJECTS: One hundred twenty-six primigravid women with 300 age matched controls, and 136 parous women having their second baby with 300 age matched controls. Only women who had spontaneous deliveries were included.


Aberdare District Maternity Unit, Mid Glamorgan, Wales.


Six sessions of hypnotherapy given by a trained medical hypnotherapist during pregnancy.


Analgesic requirements, duration of first and second stages of labour.


The mean lengths of the first stage of labour in the primigravid women was 6.4 h after hypnosis and 9.3 h in the control group(P < 0.0001); the mean lengths of the second stage were 37 min and 50 min, respectively (P < 0.001). In the multi-parous women the corresponding values were 5.3 h and 6.2 h (P < 0.01); and 24 and 22 min (ns). The use of analgesic agents was significantly reduced (P < 0.001) in both hypnotised groups compared with their controls.


In addition to demonstrating the benefits of hypnotherapy, the study gives some insight into the relative proportions of mechanical and psychological components involved in the longer duration of labour in primigravid women. The hypnotised groups clearly had a reduction in the duration of both the first and second stages of labor.

Hypnosis May Reduce Pain and Complications of Labor

New York (Reuter Health) Jun 13 Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 1990, Vol. 58, No. 5, 525-530

According to the report, only 1 in 22 patients in the hypnosis group remained in the hospital longer than 2 days after delivery, compared with 8 of 20 patients who did not learn self-hypnosis. None of the patients in the hypnosis group needed surgical intervention, compared with 60% of those in the non-hypnosis group.

“This study provides empirical data demonstrating that the use of hypnosis in preparing pregnant women for labor and delivery reduces the risk of complications, decreases the need for medical intervention…and promotes safer, more comfortable delivery for mother and child,” Dr. Schauble told Reuters Health.

Improved Obstetric Outcomes Using Hypnotic Analgesia and Skill Mastery Combined with Childbirth Education

Theresa M. Hammon and Michael T. Hynan University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Timoth E Tyre Pain Clinic, Waukesha Memorial Hospital Waukesha, Wisconsin

The benefits of hypnotic analgesia as an adjunct to childbirth education were studied in 60 nulliparous women. Subjects were divided into high and low hypnotic susceptibility groups before receiving 6 sessions of childbirth education and skill mastery using an ischemic pain task. Half of the subjects in each group received a hypnotic induction at the beginning of each session; the remaining control subjects received relaxation and breathing exercises typically used in childbirth education. Both hypnotic subjects and highly susceptible subjects reported reduced pain. Hypnotically prepared births had shorter Stage 1 labors, less medication, higher Apgar scores, and more frequent spontaneous deliveries than control subjects’ births. Highly susceptible hypnotically treated women had lower depression scores after birth than women in the other three groups. We propose that repeated skill mastery facilitated the effectiveness of hypnosis in our study.

Childbirth preparation through hypnosis: the hypnoreflexogenous protocol

Schauble PG, Werner WE, Rai SH, Martin A. Counseling Center , University of Florida , Gainsville, Florida . American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 1998 Apr;40(4):273-83

A verbatim protocol for the “Hypnoreflexogenous” method of preparation for childbirth is presented wherein the patient is taught to enter a hypnotic state and then prepared for labour and delivery. The method provides a “conditioned reflex” effect conducive to a positive outcome for labour and delivery by enhancing the patient’s sense of readiness and control. Previous applications of the method demonstrate patients have fewer complications, higher frequency of normal and full-term deliveries, and more positive postpartum adjustment. The benefit and ultimate cost effectiveness of the hypnobirthing method are discussed.

Suggestion Therapy – Clinical study on shortening the birth process using psychological suggestion therapy.

Hao TY, Li YH, Yao SF. Zhonghua Hu Li Za Zhi. 1997 Oct; 32(10):568-70. (General

Military Hospital of Jinan, P.R. China.)

This randomized control trial investigated the effect of psychological suggestion therapy on the birth process. A specially designed, prospective study of psychological suggestion recruited 120 healthy, full-term primipara (first baby) with singleton pregnancies and cephalic presentation (head first). All cases were randomly divided into 2 groups, the birth processes and final modes of delivery were analyzed in 60 cases interfered with the psychological suggestion therapy and 60 cases with spontaneous birth processes as control group.

The results showed a significantly shorter duration of the first and second stages of labour in the study group, as compared to the control group (P<0.01).

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