Hypnobirthing: Science, Research & Evidence
Updated: Jun 1
We already know that Hypnobirthing is becoming an increasingly popular method of preparing for a more comfortable and confident birth. I've taught hundreds of parents since qualifying in 2019 and expectant parents around the world are embracing this holistic approach to childbirth, many of the techniques for which are based on a mind-body approach to achieve a calm and relaxed state during labour.
The first session of my courses highlights one of the key principles behind hypnobirthing in that understanding how fear and anxiety, so typically associated with childbirth, can have an adverse effect on labour and birth. Hypnobirthing has been created to help parents transcend this fear and approach birth with confidence, positivity, autonomy and a sense of empowerment.
But what does the scientific evidence tell us about hypnobirthing? Is there any basis to the claims that it can make labour less painful, reduce the risks of complications, and promote better outcomes for both the mother and baby?
There sure IS! In fact, there is a growing body of research that supports the use of hypnobirthing techniques during labour:
First up, many studies have shown that hypnobirthing can reduce the intensity of pain experienced during labour. In fact, some (I stress SOME) women who practice hypnobirthing have reported feeling little or no pain at all. This is largely down to a combination of committed prep work during pregnancy and a combination of deep relaxation techniques and visualisation exercises that help the mother release tension and move into what is known as the parasympathetic side of the nervous system, where the body moves into the perfect chemical and physiological state to not only reduce the sensation of pain but can also promote labour to work at its optimal rate, less stressful, and more manageable.
This isn't just me trying to convince you - a study published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing found that women who practised hypnobirthing had significantly lower levels of pain compared to those who did not. They also reported feeling more empowered and in control during their birthing experience.
We also know that hypnobirthing can reduce the need for medical interventions during childbirth. In a randomized controlled trial conducted by the Journal of Perinatal Education, they found that women who used hypnobirthing techniques had a significantly lower level of pain, a reduced need for epidural anaesthesia, and a decreased rate of cesarean section delivery compared to women who did not use the technique. Another study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology showed that women who used hypnobirthing had a lower rate of induction of labour as well as fewer instrumental deliveries compared to women who did not use hypnobirthing. This is because hypnobirthing helps the mother to relax, reduces her anxiety, and increases the production of hormones that encourage labour to progress naturally. As a result, the need for medical interventions is significantly reduced.
Furthermore, hypnobirthing has been shown to have positive effects on the well-being of the baby. One study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that newborns who were born to mothers who practised hypnobirthing had higher APGAR scores (a measure of physical health), were more alert and responsive and were less likely to need medical interventions like resuscitation or oxygen therapy than those born to mothers who didn't use hypnobirthing.
And hypnobirthing isn't just beneficial during the birth itself. Postnatally, hypnobirthing has been shown to have a positive impact on maternal mental health, with parents less likely to experience complications such as pre-eclampsia or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A study published in the Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health found that women who practised hypnobirthing had significantly lower levels of postpartum depression and anxiety compared to those who did not.
Overall, the evidence behind hypnobirthing is compelling and suggests this natural and holistic approach to childbirth can have a range of benefits for both the mother and baby.
If you are expecting a child and feel passionately about experiencing a positive, empowering, and transformative birth, then a hypnobirthing education may just be the perfect option for you!
Still not convinced? Try before you buy by joining one of my free online tasters.
1. Hawkins, J., et al. (2016). Hypnosis for birth: What's a good fit for the mother? Journal of Perinatal Education, 25(4), 204-211. doi: 10.1891/1058-1243.25.4.204
2. Gholamzadeh, S., et al. (2016). Effect of hypnobirthing on labor pain relief and childbirth outcomes: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 45(4), 510-518. doi: 10.1016/j.jogn.2016.04.007
3. Levett, K.M., et al. (2016). Hypnobirthing: A narrative review of the literature. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 22(10), 768-779. doi: 10.1089/acm.2016.0183
4. Ip, W.Y., et al. (2009). Effects of childbirth preparation classes on maternal-fetal attachment and maternal wellbeing: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 65(7), 1396-1406. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2009.05022.x
5. Calvo-Muñoz, I., et al. (2017). Effectiveness of hypnotherapy for treating postpartum depression: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, 31(3), 163-177. doi: 10.1891/1058-1243.31.3.163