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Hypnosis for pain management during labour and childbirth

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 14:23 authored by Madden, K, Middleton, P, Cyna, AM, Mandy MatthewsonMandy Matthewson, Jones, L

Background: This review is one in a series of Cochrane Reviews investigating pain management for childbirth. These reviews all contribute to an overview of systematic reviews of pain management for women in labour, and share a generic protocol. We examined the current evidence regarding the use of hypnosis for pain management during labour and childbirth. This review updates the findings regarding hypnosis from an earlier review of complementary and alternative therapies for pain management in labour into a stand-alone review.

Objectives: To examine the effectiveness and safety of hypnosis for pain management during labour and childbirth.

Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (11 January 2012) and the reference lists of primary studies and review articles.

Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials and quasi-randomised controlled trials comparing preparation for labour using hypnosis and/or use of hypnosis during labour, with or without concurrent use of pharmacological or non-pharmacological pain reliefmethods versus placebo, no treatment or any analgesic drug or technique.

Data collection and analysis: Two assessors independently extracted data and assessed trial quality. Where possible we contacted study authors seeking additional information about data and methodology.

Main results: We included seven trials randomising a total of 1213 women. All but one of the trials were at moderate to high risk of bias. Although six of the seven trials assessed antenatal hypnotherapy, there were considerable differences between these trials in timing and technique. One trial provided hypnotherapy during labour. No significant differences between women in the hypnosis group and those in the control group were found for the primary outcomes: use of pharmacological pain relief (average risk ratio (RR) 0.63, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.39 to 1.01, six studies, 1032 women), spontaneous vaginal birth (average RR 1.35, 95% CI 0.93 to 1.96, four studies, 472 women) or satisfaction with pain relief (RR 1.06, 95% CI 0.94 to 1.20, one study, 264 women). There was significant statistical heterogeneity in the data for use of pharmacological pain relief and spontaneous vaginal birth. The primary outcome of sense of coping with labour was reported in two studies as showing no beneficial effect (no usable data available for this review).


Publication title

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews



Article number









School of Psychological Sciences


John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Place of publication

9600 Garsington Rd, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK

Rights statement

Copyright 2012 The Cochrane Collection

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Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in psychology

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