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Hypnosis for Childbirth

Women are often very intrigued by the idea of using hypnosis for childbirth, and justifiably so.  In some cases it’s about what is referred to as hypnoanesthesia, but in other cases it’s more about the ability to quell the stress and anxiety that has come from the horror stories the mother to be has been inundated with throughout her life.  In either case, I have found myself addressing groups of women over the years who have inquired about hypnotherapy for childbirth, and while I have had the experience of being involved in deliveries both with and without the aid of hypnosis, as a male my experience has always been second hand so to speak.  Therefore as a point of reference I often refer to my hypnotherapy childbirth certification classes in which the instructor, an accomplished hypnotherapist herself relayed her own experience. 

This particular instructor wasn’t teaching from a theoretical standpoint, for at 33 weeks, while she was all alone, she went into full blown labor with twins.  Using the skills that she now teaches in a program she calls “Joyous Labor & Childbirth,” Lisa calmly drove herself to the hospital, timing her contractions at 2 ½ minutes apart so she could pull over to the side of the road for each contraction, and claims to have done so in comfort.

While this may sound remarkable to some, it’s important to realize that the concept is hardly new.  In fact the use of hypnosis in childbirth probably goes back a couple of hundred thousand years, but the first documentation goes back to Platanov who was well known for his hypno-obstetric success in Russiain the 1920s.  In fact Ferdinand Lamaze learned his techniques during a visit to Russia and brought them back to France where he developed the Lamaze Method which he called “Childbirth Without Pain Through the Psychological Method.”  The practice is still in use today, but unfortunately is often presented in a very mechanical manner which loses much of the power hypnosis has to bring to the table if only allowed.

As the benefits of hypnosis for childbirth are so common knowledge, this article will not go into as many case studies as some others on this site, but suffice to say that medical research certainly hasn’t stood still in this area.  In fact in modern times, labor and childbirth with hypnosis has been widely studied with perhaps the most complete study to date being published in The British Journal of Anesthesia in 2004.  The study reviewed 8,395 cases in which hypnosis was used during labor and delivery and in part cited the following with spelling corrected for use in the United States:

This report represents the most comprehensive review of the literature to date on the use of hypnosis for analgesia during childbirth. The meta-analysis shows that hypnosis reduces analgesia requirements in labor. Apart from the analgesia and anesthetic effects possible in receptive subjects, there are three other possible reasons why analgesic consumption during childbirth might be reduced when using hypnosis. First, teaching self-hypnosis facilitates patient autonomy and a sense of control. Secondly, the majority of parturients are likely to be able to use hypnosis for relaxation, thus reducing apprehension that in turn may reduce analgesic requirements. Finally, the possible reduction in the need for pharmacological augmentation of labor when hypnosis is used for childbirth, may minimize the incidence of uterine hyperstimulation and the need for epidural analgesia (Cyna, McAuliffe, & Andrew 2004).

Of course the study only documented what many women, including the thousands involved in the study have known for centuries.  It should also be stated at this point, that the use of hypnosis or hypnoanesthesia does not preclude the use of chemical anesthesia, nor is this article suggesting that anyone should choose one over the other.  Of course as one instructor stated, “Why choose one when you can have both?”  Such a decision is something to be made by the prospective parents, and certainly under the counsel of the attending physician. 

In my own practice we use program consisting of a minimum of five sessions, one week apart.  Certainly more sessions can be accommodated and are beneficial to mother as hypnoanesthesia is a learned skill, and practice is imperative.  Therefore we like to schedule the first appointment at 30 weeks to allow time for the five sessions.  With twins, triplets, etc., that may need to be adjusted to 25 weeks, and with subsequent deliveries after consulting with your obstetrician it may be adjusted to 28 weeks.  Scheduling in this manner gives the prospective mother, as well as her partner plenty of time to build hypnotic rapport, learn self-hypnosis, and work through any fears and concerns.  Additionally and equally important is that it gives you time to learn to achieve maximum depth, as well as learn the “Partial Hypno-Anesthesia Technique” in the event a c-section becomes necessary, and of course practice, practice, practice.  As we like to say, “Just like a musical instrument, you have to practice before the big concert.”

If you are expecting and would like to discuss the possibility of hypno-birthing, please contact us online, or call the office at 469-225-9040.

Please note that regular prenatal visits are imperative as only a physician can evaluate your pregnancy and make appropriate suggestions. 

William Carpenter holds a certification in Hypnosis and Childbirth as well as a dual certification in Hypnosis and Pain Management, and Pre and Post Surgery Hypnosis from the American Hypnosis Association.



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.