• Poppy St Jonn-Mosse

Hypnotherapy for Birth

I am currently 20 weeks pregnant with my second child and am hoping for a natural birth having had an emergency C-section with my first. So I am planning to try Hypnotherapy from this point in my pregnancy once a week until the big day. I have been recommended, Natal Hypnotherapy by a friend who used it to overcome morning sickness and then through her pregnancy and birth, and she swears by it. Here is some research on how Hypnotherapy is being used currently for birth. It's a lot more common than you might think. And I will keep you updated here on how things go with my Natal Hypnotherapy experience.

The Evidence

This site has a great piece of work by Rebecca Dekker | Jun 19, 2018 on how Hypnotherapy can help with labour. here's just a snippet of what they say. For the full piece click on the link

"In 2016, a researcher named Hauser did a meta-analysis and looked at all the randomized trials on using hypnosis for a variety of purposes. They found that hypnosis was superior to usual care in terms of reducing emotional stress, making you have a quicker recovery, and decreasing your need for pain medication. They concluded that hypnotherapy is a safe and effective complementary medicine technique for use in medical procedures and that it even shows promise for helping people manage irritable bowel syndrome... using hypnosis for pain relief during labour? - Madden et al. (2016) Cochrane Review and Meta-Analysis

Well, ...

in 2016, Madden et al. published a Cochrane review and meta-analysis. The review included nine randomized, controlled trials with a total of nearly 3000 participants. The studies ranged in size from as small as 38 participants and as large as about 1200 participants. In eight trials, the hypnotherapy began during pregnancy and was taught in group classes. In four trials, women were given audio tracks and told to practice daily at home.  And in one study, hypnotherapy wasn’t introduced until the participants were in labour- so that was the first time they got any hypnotherapy.

They found that people who received hypnosis were 27% less likely to have any drugs for pain relief overall. This could have included epidurals, or injectable opioids, or nitrous oxide gas. However, when they looked specifically at epidural use, they did not see any difference between epidural rates in the hypnosis group and in the standard care group. One analysis that the Cochrane researchers did showed that there might be an interaction between when you started the hypnosis training and how much pain medication you needed. In other words, they found that the earlier you started the hypnosis training – giving you more time to practice- the less likely you were to need pain medication during labour.

After the births, there were no clear differences between the hypnosis and control groups with their reports of how they felt like they coped during labour or their satisfaction with their pain relief. However, the researchers did find a slight benefit in satisfaction levels in the hypnosis group when hypnosis was combined with being immersed in a tub of warm water. They did not find any reports of bad side effects from using hypnosis. ...

Werner et al. (2013) RCT

A study by Werner et al. published in 2013 was the largest trial included in the Cochrane Review. And because it made up a large portion of the Cochrane Review, it might be helpful to look at the study. This study was carried out in Denmark and it had 1,222 participants. The people who were randomly assigned to hypnosis received three, one-hour training sessions and they were also given three audio tracks to listen to at home. The other group, the control group, received three, one-hour sessions on relaxation practices in which they learned techniques for relaxation, as well as mindfulness techniques. And the relaxation group also received audio tracks to listen to at home to help them with their relaxation practice.

The two groups, the hypnosis group and the relaxation group, were taught by the same group of midwives, and there was also a third group which received usual care. The researchers used a validated tool to measure fear, confidence, and expectations before the actual birth, and then they evaluated the same aspects of the childbirth experience six weeks postpartum. They found that women in the hypnosis group experienced their labours as significantly better on average compared with the other two groups. However, as I said earlier, two or three one-hour sessions may not be enough to really effectively impact your health outcomes and your need for pain medication."

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