If you read the recent Cochrane Review: “Hypnosis for pain management during labour and childbirth”, you might start to have doubts.
And many will use the review to try to say hypnobirthing doesn’t work.
However, I think I need to point out that the review looked at research into “hypnosis” for labour and birth, not “hypnobirthing”. But I will explain that later.
I would also like anyone reading this review to remember these wise words from as Sara Wickham:
“Cochrane reviews only take certain kinds of studies and data into account. They use meta-analysis, which is great at showing us whether a simple intervention can increase a specific outcome, but by nature, they don’t look at the bigger picture and meta-analysis isn’t designed to look at more complex things like hypnobirthing or pain, which are hard to measure by quantitative means. So it isn’t uncommon for things that people find really useful in practice to come out as not very effective in a review like this, and the authors often acknowledge that in their discussions 🙂 Also, it’s hard to design randomised controlled trials for stuff like this, and they are often limited by issues such as funding, which means that when the women in the trials experienced isn’t necessarily hypnobirthing as you know it.” (Facebook 20th May 2016)
It is also important to realise that different people can read the same study, report or review and draw completely different personal conclusions.
Some people might read this review and focus on the fact that it found no difference in the use of epidurals and therefore will say that hypnobirthing doesn’t work.
Others might zoom in on the fact that the review said: “there is currently not enough evidence”.
However, even this could lead to different conclusions:
- Not enough research equals it doesn’t work
- Not enough research equals it does work, we just haven’t scientifically proven it yet
- Not enough research, well let’s do more research then.
Personally, I focus on this bit: “Further high-quality research is needed and should include assessment of women’s satisfaction with pain relief and sense of coping in labour”.
Which brings me back to: what does “work” mean?
I believe how women feel about their birth experience and their sense of coping in labour, are really important factors to consider when deciding whether hypnobirthing works or not.
I also think you can’t dismiss the psychological benefits of self-hypnosis and hypnobirthing.
There were a couple of studies included in this review that did look at some psychological outcomes.
- A Danish Study of 1,222 women in 2013 found that :
“ In this large randomized controlled trial, a brief course in self-hypnosis improved the women’s childbirth experience.”
- The “Self-hypnosis for intrapartum pain management in pregnant nulliparous women: a randomised controlled trial of clinical effectiveness” or SHIP trial found that:
“At 2 weeks postnatal, there was a significantly lower score for actual experiences of anxiety and fear associated with childbirth for those randomised to the intervention group versus the control group, when compared with the baseline scores given for their expectations in this area.”
For me, lowering fear and anxiety are a huge benefit of an hypnobirthing course and a big reason why I love teaching the Hypnobirthing Australia™ course.
We know that perinatal anxiety is on the increase and can be really detrimental to a mum and her baby.
We also know that a Fear of Childbirth can increase a woman’s risk of Postnatal Depression.
Fear of labour and birth can also prolong labour.
Furthermore, a positive birth experience may be protective against postpartum depression.
I would also like to go back to Sara Wickham’s point that these trials may not be “Hypnobirthing as we know it”.
None of the trials included studied a full hypnobirthing programme.
They looked at hypnosis.
But does hypnosis equal hypnobirthing?
In fact,the studies all tested slightly different approaches to hypnosis in labour and birth including: 2 to 3 classes teaching self hypnosis with a practise CD (HATCh and SHIP trials); hypnotic induction at the start of the class (Hypnosis to Facilitate Uncomplicated Birth); and to hypnosis during labour in a 1969 trial
The Hypnobirthing Australia™ programme is so much more than that.
It is a complete childbirth education programme in itself and it focuses on a “Tool Kit” approach and not just self-hypnosis.
We also teach breathing techniques, visualization, relaxation, acupressure, the physiology of birth, positions for labour and birth, support partner’s role, how to discuss choices with your care provider, nutrition, exercise and so much more.
We do also give you MP3s to practice but stress the importance of doing this daily. The average for the SHIP trail was 3 days a week.
We also provide ongoing support to help you reach your birthing goal.
Finally, we also teach couples how to stay calm and focused if their births deviate. Because the Hypnobirthing Australia™ programme really believes that the aim is a positive birth no matter what turn your birth takes.
So if you are wondering if hypnobirthing will work for you, you should consider a couple of things:
- What is your ultimate goal for your birth?
- Are you prepared to put in the time to do a full course, so you really get all the benefits?
I personally don’t think anyone ever “fails” an Hypnobirthing Australia™ course, because the value of the time sent preparing for birth and relaxing during pregnancy can never be underestimated.
Also, the course gives couples so many tools to stay calm and positive through those early weeks and months, possibly years, after birth.
A common phrase Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioners hear is: “My baby is so calm and alert” (regardless of how that baby was born).
But don’t just take my word for it. Read some wonderful Hypnobirthing Stories here .
If you want to learn more about the Hypnobirthing Australia programme, and where your nearest Practitioner is, visit www.hypnobirthingaustralia.com.au