To find specialists in this therapy please look for the letter ‘G’ in the speciality column

Article 1 by David KatoArticle 2 by Barbara GolsteinArticle 3 by Paola Bagnall

The following article is based on information kindly supplied by David Kato PhD, DHP, MIAH, MAPHP, Cert.H, Clinical Hypnotherapist / Psychotherapist of the Bristol Hypnotherapy Clinic
David is also the Principal of Hypnosis for Childbirth UK


Hypnosis can be defined as a “State of relaxation at one with a state of heightened awareness
induced by suggestion.”
The hypnotised person is pleasantly and completely relaxed. They are also very focused, attentive and responsive to new ideas and positive possibilities.
There is no question of being controlled or manipulated. Hypnotised people are still able to think and hear and understand. They know what is going on, and they retain their self control.

Hypnosis does not actually cure anything. It is used as a therapeutic tool to assist the subconscious mind to take on board suggestions that are for the client’s benefit.

Hypnosis is used by many health care professionals such as doctors, psychologists,
psychotherapists and dental surgeons throughout the world.


Hypnotherapy (when administered by a trained specialist in this particular field) can help to provide a more natural way of childbirth. Clinical hypnotherapy gives you a remarkable degree of control over your mind and body. Therefore you are able to reduce pain, fear, and anxiety whilst in labour, creating a calmer experience and a less stressed baby.
During the term of pregnancy, discomfort with back pain, morning sickness, headaches, and insomnia can be alleviated.
Fears of hospitals, needles, tokophobia, panic attacks and clinical depression or ante-natal depression can create an unpleasant pregnancy and childbirth. Clinical hypnotherapy and psychotherapy can produce better coping skills and therefore better mental health.

It is not unusual for pregnant females to develop all sorts of problematic, negative or depressive thoughts regarding their future. It is well established that reducing depression during pregnancy can significantly reduce post natal depression after childbirth.

Teaching a ‘mother-to-be’ self-hypnosis, gives her more control over the pregnancy and birth.
In hypnosis you will be aware of your baby’s arrival. This most important aspect should not be missed.

Females who experience hypnosis for childbirth will nearly always continue to use hypnosis for following births.

Advantages of using hypnosis during childbirth

  • Reduces labour time
  • Less analgesic drug required (if any)
  • A less exhausted mother after birth
  • A much less stressed baby
  • A calmer birthing experience

Safer, more effective method.

In the western world girls are brought up to perceive birth as extremely painful, but women in some other cultures of the world expect to give birth calmly and quietly.

Hypnosis produces calmness and relaxation both physically and mentally, and therefore reduces pain, fluctuating blood pressure, anxiety, stress and nausea.

Reduced Labour Time.

It is well established that hypnosis can considerably reduce labour time.

Less analgesic drug therapy required (if any)

Teaching the pregnant woman specialised techniques within hypnosis can significantly reduce pain during delivery. If there is need for an analgesic, a reduced amount of drug is effective. However it is frequently found that no painkillers are required. This is an advantage because analgesic medication may be a potential risk to the respiration of both mother and baby

A Less Exhausted Mother After Birth.

Most women feel less mentally and physically exhausted as they have remained quite calm and relaxed.

A Calm Peaceful Birthing Experience

With more control over your mind and body, you can participate in the natural birth process, and are able to both enjoy and experience the birth of your child. It is more likely that the mum will be calmer and happier. After giving birth, there may be a reduced possibility of post-natal depression.

A Less Stressed Baby

Babies have been shown to cry less, sleep and feed better and are generally calmer, possibly due to diminished trauma at birth.

Ante Natal Depression

Controlling depression prior to labour is important, especially for those who were depressed before becoming pregnant. True ante natal depression is when the female becomes depressed during pregnancy. The causes are wide and varied; unplanned pregnancy, unstable relationship, job insecurity, less income. There may be feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and inadequacy.

The American Journal of Psychiatry 2002 reported that researchers had found exposure to SSRIs

(a group of anti-depressant drugs) during pregnancy was associated with a twofold increase in premature delivery and consequent lower birth weight. Furthermore, SSRI exposure during the last three months of pregnancy was associated with lower scores on physical health of a newborn infant.

Females who have been taking anti-depressant medication, and due to pregnancy can no longer take this medication, may then develop an increase of depression.

Providing the female with better coping skills and mechanisms, allows her to be more in control of the situation and her life in general. Therapy at this stage significantly reduces the chances of post natal or post partum depression.

Post Natal Depression

Post natal depression occurs in 10 – 15% of women within a year of giving birth and these women have an increased chance of being depressed after their next birth.

Many females (usually within 4 days of giving birth) will feel ‘down’ and maybe tearful for a few days. This is quite normal and is termed ‘The baby blues.’

However, some women continue to be unhappy, emotional, and anxious about the baby. The new mother may feel unable to cope. She may feel inadequate and even guilty, perceiving herself to be a poor mother.
Insomnia or waking during the night causes tiredness and lethargy during the daytime.
Negative and poorly perceived thoughts create an increased depressive period that continues, for months and sometimes even for a year or more. This can affect the ‘bonding process’ between Mother and baby.

Brief clinical hypnotherapy via a cognitive behavioural therapy approach, can allow the depressed female to think and feel differently and provide her with better coping skills.

Primary & Secondary Tokophobia

Primary tokophobia is a fear of death in childbirth, and disgust or dread of the process. The woman goes to great lengths NOT to become pregnant.

Secondary tokophobia is due to a previous experience of traumatic birth, poor obstetric practice or medical attention, previous post natal depression, or other personal concerns and anxieties.

Of course not all women experience these problems. However, some females are more vulnerable than others, with different levels of pain threshold and emotional tolerances. Everyone is different.

Both these quite different problems can be resolved, and the outcome is a positive one should the women obtain assistance from an experienced clinician.

The following information has been kindly supplied by Barbara Golstein, Hypno-Birthing ® Practitioner

Hypno-Birthing ®

Birth ideally should be a joyful, calm process which comes naturally but many mothers-to-be fear the experience might be scary, painful or complicated.

Hypno-Birthing ® is a series of sessions to teach pregnant women relaxation and self-hypnosis ridding them of the fear and tension that can cause a long labour and pain, replacing these with a sense of confidence and inner peace. The practise has become popular across the USA and Hypno-Birthing ® is gradually being adopted here.

Hypno-Birthing® sessions explain that the mother’s body is designed to work in neuro-muscular harmony with nature in labour and teaches how to create and control the body’s natural painkillers. Sessions take place with mother’s birthing partner, who plays an integral role to make sure the environment for the birth is just right
In the sessions mothers learn about the source of the myth that pain must accompany normal birthing and why women in other cultures may birth have almost entirely free of discomfort. Practice in deep relaxation and deepening, visualisation and breathing techniques are an important part of the course.

Some other advantages of Hypno-Birthing ® are:
that it greatly reduces the need for chemical painkillers
it can help shorten the first stage of labour by hours
helps eliminate fatigue during labour, leaving mothers with more energy for actual birthing
helps eliminate the risk of hyperventilation from “shallow” breathing methods
promotes a special bonding of mother, baby and birthing companion
promotes a more rapid postnatal recovery and
helps to return birthing to the beautiful experience that Nature intended

Feedback from couples who have had a Hypno-Birth is very positive. They talk about it as being an empowering experience in an atmosphere without fear and tension.

The following information has been kindly supplied by Paola Bagnall, Inner Power Hypnobirthing


Women are constantly bombarded with negative stories about childbirth – told that it is the most painful thing they will ever do in their lives – told all the gory details of births that had complications – told about all the medical intervention that could occur. Then they hear about breastfeeding and the endless sleepless nights! It is no wonder women get anxious and worried about it. It is no wonder they are tense and unable to relax. It is no wonder that the “pain” of childbirth becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But, it need not be like that. Childbirth is a natural process – one that women’s bodies were designed for. Hypnosis is a state of deep relaxation where you are totally aware of what is going on around you. It is a really pleasant and enjoyable experience. The hypnobirthing childbirth method is a philosophy and technique for achieving a satisfying, relaxing and stress free birth.

Hypnosis helps you to connect to your inner resources, your inner power, to remain calm, relaxed and in control, creating your own natural epidural thereby releasing serotonins to help reduce the feelings of the contractions. This therefore eliminates the need for medication and allows your body and your baby to work together in the most natural way possible.

Clients that come to see me for hypnobirthing usually present with similar problems. If they are a first time mum, then they are often afraid of the birth and the “pain” that it involves. Pain is a very subjective thing anyway and if one thinks “pain” then this is usually what one gets. However, I teach the client about the biology of the body and how our bodies are designed for this purpose and that if one thinks of contractions that help the baby out into this world, then one automatically has a different perspective about the birth. I teach the client to use breathing techniques and visualisation as well as “glove anaesthesia” (using visualisation again, or the touch of your partner to create anaesthesia) to reduce the feelings of the contractions and to help them be in control. I also involve the partners in this process as they have the very important job of keeping the mum-to-be focused on keeping themselves in self-hypnosis.

Other worries usually involve tearing during the birth, healing up after the birth, breastfeeding and getting one’s figure back. All these are covered during the hypnobirthing process.

I also see many second and third time mums-to-be. Many had to have a caesarian and now want a vaginal birth and this is totally possible to achieve using hypnosis. Others have had long and painful labours with intervention, epidurals, and forceps or ventouse deliveries. After using hypnosis and practicing the hypnobirthing techniques, the vast majority of mothers have wonderfully natural births, which are so much shorter than their previous births. They heal up much more quickly; have no problems breastfeeding and most hypnobirthing mums get their figures back within two to three weeks after the birth.

J.H., Croydon – first baby
It was regularly pointed out to me by my midwife and doctor that I stayed very calm and relaxed. Also my positive attitude to the “naturalism” of the entire birth helped me a lot. I did tear, but the healing was so quick using the hypnotherapy. I also found breastfeeding very easy and I had previously been worried about this.

S. T., Bromley – second baby
My first birth was induced at 41 weeks and 4 days which led to more and more intervention, i.e. epidural and eventual C-section. Had very negative feelings and some postnatal depression after the birth.
However, with the hypnotherapy for the second birth I found that Paola’s serenity seemed to envelop me and it gave me the confidence to achieve anything, which I did as I had a totally natural birth.

J. Q-H., Kent – third baby
Wow ¾ the hypnosis really worked!! The baby was born in just under two hours and I noticed such a difference from the previous two births. I had been very sceptical because I had not listened to the tape that much. However, this birth was so much less painful and I was so very calm. With the other births I had suffered sickness and the shakes throughout the birth and this did not happen at all with the third one. Also I needed no pain relief whatsoever and I had no stitches, which I had with the other two.
Giving birth this time was like taking a walk down to the shops. It was a breeze and so easy, no trouble at all really.

Hypnobirthing can be on a one-to-one basis (usually three sessions are required) or you can come to a one-day workshop held on a Saturday, every other month. All sessions take place at the Natural Medicine Centre, West Wickham, Kent.

All clients who come on the one-to-one sessions get a self-hypnosis tape recording, which is unique to their requirements as I make the recordings at the session. (I can then include feeling comfortable with hospitals and needles if required). If you are able to do the three sessions then you have two self-hypnosis tapes, one to help you through your pregnancy, with good quality sleep, and to keep you calm, relaxed and looking forward to the birth with excitement, and another to help you through the last few weeks of your pregnancy, the birth, healing, breastfeeding, feeling confident as a mother and having all the energy you require.

Those who come on the workshops get a general tape to cover all of the above. Everyone gets sheets giving out all sorts of information and the most important sheet, which lets the birth partner know what to do during the birth.

Many partners/husbands are really pleased to be included in the preparation for, and during, the birth. This means that they no longer feel helpless and isolated. In fact, the workshops are designed for mum-to-be and partner and all clients that come for the one-to-one sessions are able to bring their partners along if they wish to. I feel it is important for the partners to know what hypnosis is all about so that they can be really involved in the birth and so help to keep the mum calm, relaxed, focused and in control. In this way the internal focus of hypnotic trance is very much linked to the internal focus of being in labour and so achieves a truly magical experience of birth.