Evidence Based Hypnotherapy

To view extensive studies demonstrating the positive outcomes of Clinical Hypnotherapy, visit the Research Findings page at the Australian Hypnotherapy Association CLICK HERE

For evidence based, research results on the effectiveness of HypnoBirthing The Mongan Method, in Australia: CLICK HERE


HypnoBirthing Outcomes supported by evidence:

* Fewer cases of pre-eclampsia/dehydration

* Fewer interventions and surgical births

* Decreased use of oxytocics or AROM

* Shorter first and second-phase labor

* Fewer pre-term and low-weight babies

* Lessened or eliminated need for analgesia

* Happier and content mothers and babies

* Babies alert; able to nurse almost immediately

* No cases of post-partum depression reported

‘Hypnosis for Childbirth’ Outcomes supported by evidence:

* Infants with higher than average APGAR scores

* Shorter labors

* Reduced use of pain medication

* Higher Apgar scores (measurement of the baby’s well being at the birth)

* Reduced surgical delivery (Caesarian delivery and forceps)

Read below for more detailed findings:

HypnoBirthing AND Length of Labour:

Hao et al in China measured the effect of nursing suggestions to labouring women and recommends that the conversation of the nurses be “controlled carefully for the purpose of advancing the birth process”. This randomized control trial examined 60 first time mothers with a matched control group of 60 first time mothers and found a statistically significant reduction (p<0.01) in the lengths of the first and second stages of labour.

Jenkins and Pritchard found a reduction of 3 hours for prim gravid women (from 9.3 hours to 6.4 hours, p<0.0001) and 1 hour for multi gravid women (from 6.2 hours to 5.3 hours, p<0.01) for active labour (262 subjects and 600 controls). Pushing was statistically shorter for first time mothers (from 50 min to 37 min, p<0.001).

In a study that compared hypnosis and Lamaze training, 96 women chose between hypnosis (n=45) and Lamaze (n=51). The first stage of labour was shortened in the hypnosis group by 98 minutes for first time mothers and by 40 minutes for second time mothers. These women were more satisfied with labour and reported other benefits of hypnosis such as reduced anxiety and help with getting to sleep.

A British study found a statistically significant reduction (p<0.001) in the length of labour of first and second time mothers: 70 hypnosis patients (6 h 21 min) compared to 70 relaxation patients (9 h 28 min) and 70 control group (9 h 45 min).

Mellegren noted a reduction of two to three hours of labour.
Abramson and Heron found a shorter first stage of labour for 100 women trained with hypnosis (by 3.23 hours) compared to a control group of 88 women.
Forty-five Hypnosis for Childbirth clients (first time mothers) had an average of 4.5 hours for the active labour, a significant reduction compared to the usual 12 hours.

HypnoBirthing AND Medication use:

In a British study, 55% of 45 patients (first and second time mothers) required no medication for pain relief. In the other non-hypnosis groups, only 22% of 90 women required no medication. Two research pieces reported on 1,000 consecutive births: 850 women used hypnotic analgesia resulting in 58 percent rate of no medication. Five other research pieces reported an incidence of 60 to 79 percent non-medicated births.

My retrospective survey notes an epidural rate of 18 percent in Southern Ontario, where the epidural rate in most hospitals is 40 to 95 percent (depending on the setting) for first time mothers.

HypnoBirthing AND Rates of Intervention:

In a randomized control trial of 42 teenagers in Florida, none of the 22 patients in the hypnosis group experienced surgical intervention compared with 12 of the 20 patients in the control group (p=.000). Twelve patients in the hypnosis group experienced complications compared with 17 in the control group (p=.047).

Harmon, Hynan and Tyre reported more spontaneous deliveries, higher Apgar scores and reduced medication use in their study of 60 women. Of the 45 Hypnosis for Childbirth clients, 38 delivered without the use of caesarian, forceps or vacuum, a rate of spontaneous birth of 84%. This is a higher than average rate of normal birth for the general population of first time mothers.

HypnoBirthing AND Postpartum:

In a randomized control trial of 42 teenagers in Florida, only 1 patient in the hypnosis group had a hospital stay of more than two days compared with 8 patients in the control group (p=.008).

HypnoBirthing AND Postpartum Depression:

McCarthy provided five 30-minute sessions to 600 women and found a virtual absence of postpartum depression, compared to the typical rates of 10 to 15 percent. Women with a history of postpartum depression did not develop this condition, even though an estimated 50 percent eventually do.
Harmon et al also reported lower depression scores in the hypnotically treated group.
It appears that a simple intervention, hypnotherapy, has far-reaching effects both medically and socially. Some, but not all, of the above studies are randomized, have large numbers, include control groups and demonstrate statistical significance. There remains, therefore, a clear need for more research in the use of hypnosis for childbirth preparation.

Reference List:

Hao TY, Li YH, Yao SF. “Clinical study on shortening the birth process using psychological suggestion therapy”. Zhonghua Hu Li Za Zhi. 1997 Oct; 32(10):568-70. (General Military Hospital of Jinan, P.R. China.)

Jenkins, M.W., & Pritchard, M.H. “Hypnosis: Practical applications and theoretical considerations in normal labour”. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 100(3),
221-226, 1993.

Brann LR, Guzvica SA. “Comparison of hypnosis with conventional relaxation for antenatal and intrapartum use: A feasibility study in general practice”. J R Coll Gen Pract 1987; 37:437-440.

Davidson, J, MD. “An assessment of the value of hypnosis in pregnancy and labour”. Br Med Journal Oct 13, 1962, 951-953.

Mellegren, A. “Practical experiences with a modified hypnosis-delivery”. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 14, 425-428, 1966.

Abramson, M., & Heron, W.T. “An objective evaluation of hypnosis in obstetrics: Preliminary report”. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 59, 1069-1074, 1950.

Gallagher, S. “Hypnosis for Childbirth: prenatal education and birth outcome”. unpublished. June 2001. Davidson, J, MD.

August, R.V. “Obstetric hypnoanesthesia”. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 79, 1131-1137, 1960, and August, R.V. Hypnosis in obstetrics. New York: McGraw Hill, 1961.

Hornyak, Lynne M. and Joseph P. Green. “Healing From Within: The use of hypnosis in women’s health care”. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2000.

Alice A. Martin, PhD; Paul G. Schauble, PhD; Surekha H. Rai, PhD; and R. Whit Curry, Jr, MD “The Effects of Hypnosis on the Labor Processes and Birth Outcomes of Pregnant Adolescents”. The Journal of Family Practice, MAY 2001, 50(5): 441-443.

Harmon, T.M., Hynan, M., & Tyre, T.E. “Improved obstetric outcomes using hypnotic analgesia and skill mastery combined with childbirth education”. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 58, 525, 530, 1990.

Gallagher, S. “Hypnosis for Childbirth: prenatal education and birth outcome”. unpublished. June 2001.

McCarthy, P. “Hypnosis in obstetrics”. Australian Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 26, 35-42, 1998.

The Effectiveness of using Hypnosis to turn Breech Babies

For any mums out there with breech babies, I have just come across the results of a study by Dr. Lewis Mehl Madrona from May, 1992, University of Vermont Medical School, on turning breech presentations using a hypnosis script, which you might be interested to know about, if you didn’t know already.

The study included 100 women who were referred from practicing obstetricians and an additional 100 who responded to an advertisement. Only women carrying their babies in breech position at 36 weeks gestation or more were included.

Dr. Mehl-Madrona used a hypnosis script with the 100 women in the study group and there was a comparison group of 100 women who had no hypnotherapy, though some did have ECV (external cephalic version).

In the study group the Mothers, while in hypnosis, were led through guided imagery to bring them into a deep relaxation. They were asked to visualise their babies easily turning and then visualise their babies in the correct vertex position. The Mothers visualised the uterus becoming soft and pliable to allow the baby sufficient room to re-position. The Mother was asked to talk to her baby, and the therapist encouraged the baby to release itself from the position and to turn itself downward for birth.

The study ended with 81% of the breech babies with the hypnotherapy turning spontaneously from breech to vertex presentation as opposed to only 26% babies who turned spontaneously without hypnotherapy. An additional 20% turned with ECV.

It was originally thought that each Mother would require approximately ten hours of hypnotherapy in order to accomplish the desired result. As the study unfolded, the average number of hours with each woman was only four and half hours, and only half of the successful 81 turns required only one session.

On the HypnoBirthing (Mongan Method) course there is a specific script that we can offer mums for breech presentations before they go for an ECV.