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Should Hypnotherapy be in the Delivery Room?

It’s no secret that giving birth can be a painful endeavor. But a growing number of women are opting against using pain meds and epidurals during labor and instead trying to find more natural methods of combating contractions. One such method is using hypnotherapy during birth.

Hypnosis is a state of deep mental and physical relaxation that enables the hypnotized person to focus intensely on a thought, feeling, or activity, thus blocking outside distractions.

Some women come into the birth experience filled with fear and dread. Hypnotherapy advocates say that a woman can replace that fear with thoughts of a safe and gentle birth that can make the process less painful. In fact, hypnotherapy is believed to possibly help in the release of serotonin, a “feel-good” hormone that helps relax the body and minimize pain.

While hypnotherapy during childbirth is still being studied, the HypnoBirthing program reports that surveys of its clients found that 23 percent of women who used the technique for a vaginal birth got an epidural, compared with a national average of more than 50 percent. They also reported that 17 percent of patients who used their method of pain control delivered via C-section, compared with the national rate of 32 percent. While that last statistic is encouraging, do keep in mind that women who choose this method of pain control may be healthier and have lower risk pregnancies, thus making their risk of C-section lower overall.

A recent small study showed some evidence of decreased pain intensity, shorter labor, and shorter hospital stay in women who used hypnosis compared with a control group. It is important to keep in perspective that these findings were based on a small patient group, so larger studies to confirm this finding need to be done.

Reviewed by Dr. Jen Lincoln, November 2018


  • Hypnobirthing
  • The Hypnobirthing Program.
    British Journal of Anaesthesia
  • Hypnosis for pain relief in labor and childbirth: a systematic review.
    Madden K, Middleton P, Cyna AM, Matthewson M, Jones L
  • Hypnosis for pain management during labour and childbirth
  • Cochrane Database Syst Rev
  • 2012 Nov 14;11:CD009356
  • doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD009356.pub2.

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