Objective: To estimate the use of epidural analgesia and experienced pain during childbirth after a short antenatal training course in self-hypnosis to ease childbirth.
Design: Randomised, controlled, single-blinded trial using a three-arm design.
Setting: Aarhus University Hospital Skejby in Denmark during the period July 2009 until August 2011.
Population: A total of 1222 healthy nulliparous women.
Method: Use of epidural analgesia and self-reported pain during delivery was compared in three groups: a hypnosis group receiving three 1-hour lessons in self-hypnosis with additional audiorecordings to ease childbirth, a relaxation group receiving three 1-hour lessons in various relaxation methods and mindfulness with audiorecordings for additional training, and a usual care group receiving ordinary antenatal care only.
Primary outcome: Use of epidural analgesia. Secondary outcomes included self-reported pain.
Results: There were no between-group differences in use of epidural analgesia-31.2% (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 27.1-35.3) in the hypnosis group, 29.8% (95% CI 25.7-33.8) in the relaxation group and 30.0% (95% CI 24.0-36.0) in the control group. No statistically significant differences between the three groups were observed for any of the self-reported pain measures.
Conclusion: In this large randomised controlled trial of a brief course in self-hypnosis to ease childbirth, no differences in use of epidural analgesia or pain experience were found across study groups. Before turning down self-hypnosis as a method for pain relief, further studies are warranted with focus on specific subgroups.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00914082.
© 2012 The Authors BJOG An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology © 2012 RCOG.