Self-hypnosis for coping with labour pain: a randomised controlled trial

BJOG. 2013 Feb;120(3):346-53. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.12087. Epub 2012 Nov 27.


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: NCT00914082.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesia, Epidural / statistics & numerical data
  • Analgesia, Obstetrical / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis / methods*
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Labor Pain / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / methods
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Single-Blind Method

Associated data