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Hypnosis for pain relief in labour and childbirth: a systematic review.

05 Jul

A recent meta-analysis out of Adelaide, Australia examines the effectiveness of hypnosis for pain relief for women during childbirth, and reveals some very promising studies that support its use.

Meta-analysis by investigators at the Department of Women''s Anaesthesia of Women''s and Children''s Hospital in Adelaide, Australia, looked at evidence regarding the effects of hypnosis for pain relief during childbirth.

Medline, Embase, Pubmed, and the Cochrane library 2004.1 were searched for clinical trials where hypnosis during pregnancy and childbirth was compared with a non-hypnosis intervention, no treatment or a placebo.

Primary outcome measures were labor analgesia requirements (no analgesia, opiate, or epidural use), and pain scores in labor. Meta-analyses were performed of the included randomized controlled trials (RCTs), assessed as being of "good" or "adequate" quality by a predefined score.

Five RCTs and 14 non-randomized comparisons (NRCs) studying 8395 women were identified where hypnosis was used for labor analgesia. Four RCTs including 224 patients examined the primary outcomes of interest. One RCT rated poor on quality assessment.

Meta-analyses of the three remaining RCTs showed that, compared with controls, fewer women in labor who used hypnosis required analgesia. Of the two included NRCs, one showed that women using hypnosis rated their labour pain less severe than the controls (P<0.01). The other showed that hypnosis reduced opioid (meperidine) requirements (P<0.001), and increased the incidence of not requiring pharmacological analgesia in labour (P<0.001).

This study concludes that the promising risk/benefit profile of hypnosis demonstrates a need for well-designed trials to confirm the effects of hypnosis in childbirth.

Citation: Cyna AM, McAuliffe GL, Andrew MI. Hypnosis for pain relief in labour and childbirth: a systematic review. British Journal of Anaesthesia. 2004 Oct; 93 (4): pages 505-11. Epub 2004 Jul 26. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award