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Canadian Shawn Gallagher's study
Hypnosis for Childbirth: A retrospective survey of birth outcome using prenatal self-hypnosis: A Retrospective Survey 2001

Shawn Gallagher, B.A., C.Ht

Objective: To assess the effects of prenatal hypnotherapy classes on the length of labor, use of pain medication, intervention rates, maternal pain perception and maternal satisfaction.

Design: Retrospective survey completed by the woman and her partner.

Subjects: 45 Self-referred, first time birth women and low risk.

Setting: Toronto, Canada

Intervention: Three sessions of 2.5 to 3 hours in length in a group setting in mid-pregnancy, plus one session of 2.5 hours in length in late pregnancy. The sessions were provided by a Certified Hypnotherapist. The woman's partner was trained to provide additional hypnosis support during the birth as needed (the Hypnotherapist did not attend the births).

Outcome Measures: Anesthetic and analgesic requirements, duration of the early, active and second stages, planned place of birth and actual place of birth, interventions required, pain scale of 0-10 as reported by the mother post-delivery, breastfeeding rates and reported maternal satisfaction.


Length of labor:

The average length of active labor for first time birth women is 12 hours. Participants in the Hypnosis for Childbirth series averaged 4.5 hours of active labor. The average length of pushing for first time birth women is about 2 hours. Participants in the Hypnosis for Childbirth series averaged just over 1 hour. Hypnosis is associated with faster births (statistically significant) throughout the research for both the first and second stages of labor.

Medication rates:

The epidural rate in Toronto and Mississauga ranges from 40 to 95% for first time birth women. This survey notes an 18% epidural rate for Hypnosis for Childbirth participants (11% for caesarians and forceps, 7% for maternal request). This survey's reduction in medication use is supported by statistically significant reductions in other research for women using hypnosis preparation for birth.

Caesarian rates:

The caesarian section rate in Toronto ranges from 20 to 25%, depending on the institutional setting (as in the US). This survey notes a caesarian section rate of 6.7% for Hypnosis for Childbirth participants. Other research also notes the reduction of birth interventions with the prenatal use of hypnosis.

The total number of participants who received an intervention was 8 for a rate of 18%. (Some women received more than one intervention.)
Breastfeeding without formula supplementation: 42 (93%)
Women who would use this method again: 43 (96%)

As a result of the Hypnosis for Childbirth series a very high percentage of women reported an increased sense of self-confidence prior to the onset of labor. In addition, 96% were pleased at the use of hypnosis, would use hypnosis in a subsequent birth and recommend its use to other women planning natural childbirth.

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