Hypnotherapy can be used during pregnancy and childbirth to prepare a mother for birth and/or to attempt to treat a number of issues ranging from fears and minor health conditions related to the pregnancy, to the possibility of reducing or eliminating pain during labor.
Hypnotherapy is the process of interactive therapy with a certified clinical hypnotherapist to determine and resolve the root cause(s) of any overwhelming fears, beliefs and attitudes. There are many basic hypnosis techniques that can be used throughout pregnancy and childbirth for the purposes of relaxation, sleep, physical comfort, preparation for childbirth and preparation for parenthood.
It started with the work of English obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read (1890-1959), and culminated in his book Childbirth without Fear, first published in 1942. The work was further developed by Jacqueline Vincent Priya, Michelle Leclaire O'Neill and later Marie Mongan and Kerry Tuschhoff in America.
General use during pregnancy
Practitioners understand that during pregnancy and prior to birth, the use of hypnosis can significantly shorten labor, reduce pain and reduce the need for intervention. Practitioners also understand that babies born to mothers who have used hypnosis to relax and calm themselves will sleep and feed better.
Hypnotherapists who specialize in hypnosis for childbirth can offer a tailored approach geared towards individual women. This is especially important if they have additional phobias or fears associated with childbirth. This can include needle phobias, fear of hospitals or even fear of pregnancy itself.
Hypnosis for labor
Hypnosis can also be used as a pain relief method during labor. Obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read first wrote about the phenomenon in the 1930s in his work on natural childbirth and since the 1980s a range of different techniques have been developed that utilize hypnosis in a natural childbirth. These include, Hypnobabies (which utilizes medical hypnotic anesthesia techniques), Hypnobirthing (as originally coined by Michelle Leclaire O'Neill), The Mongan Method (also known as "HypnoBirthing"), Confident Childbirth (cognitive hypnotherapy), Natal Hypnotherapy, FreshStart and the GentleBirth program.
According to the Mayo Clinic, research examining the benefits of hypnobirthing is limited: A 2004 research review found insufficient evidence to show that the technique is effective, though a 2006 research review found that hypnobirthing reduced the use of pain medication during labor.
A post-review of patients who had used hypnotherapy for labor was published in 2004 in the British Journal of Anaesthesia 2004 (93(4):505-511) by A.M Cyna, G.L. McAuliffe and M.I. Andrew. The review suggested that there was evidence of the reduced need for pharmacological analgesia but a more substantial trial was required. Subsequently there is a major controlled trial currently underway in Adelaide, Australia which is seeking to conclusively prove that hypnosis can a make a significant difference to women in pregnancy and labor.
In 1993, a randomised control trial by M.W. Jenkins and M. H. Pritchard, 'Hypnosis: Practical applications and theoretical considerations in normal labour' reported that hypnosis, combined with childbirth education,: reduced the length of labour; reduced the incidence of pain medication use
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