Demand for hypnobirthing sees 14-fold increase

Last modified on Wednesday 13 January 2021

The number of couples taking hypnobirthing courses has risen fourteenfold in the last four years, according to new hospital figures. Reports from hypnotherapy practitioners say that they've received more enquiries from interested mums-to-be.

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Colchester Hospital University has released figures showing the growing popularity of hypnobirthing.

Hypnobirthing uses relaxation and self-hypnosis techniques to alleviate pain during the birth process. Colchester Hospital has the highest number of trained hypnobirth teachers in the country.

According to the hospital, only six couples a month took the hypnobirthing course in 2012. This year, the number has risen to 84 a month - representing nearly a quarter of women giving birth at the Colchester hospital.


Experts say that hypnobirthing, which is suitable for first-time mums and mums who’ve had kids before, and can help with anxiety.

Teri Gavin-Jones, specialist midwife and hypnobirth trainer for Colchester Hospital, said:

"Hypnobirth is so popular that we are offering it as standard education.

We have 26 trained hypnobirth teachers here at Colchester (the largest amount in the country) and I have also trained teachers for Mid Essex NHS, Ipswich, Kent, Chichester and Worthing, and we are training midwives in Wales this month."

Teri says you can begin classes at any stage of your pregnancy, however, the sooner the better. She said:

"Typically, we see women at the hospital at about 30 weeks.

Hypnosis relies on practice and repetition. The more frequently the techniques are used, the better the outcome. The sooner women attend a course and begin the practice the more benefit she will receive in labour."

Katharine Graves, the founder of KG Hypnobirthing and author of The Hypnobirthing Book, has said she has noted a rise in enquiries about hypnobirthing from mums looking to pay for private sessions.

Katharine spoke to the MailOnline, and said:

"When I started to teach hypnobirthing over 12 years ago it was virtually unknown.

A few brave women did this course with this suspicious name, on the grounds that anything was worth a try, and, probably to their surprise, found that it made a tremendous difference.

So they told their friends, and they found it worked too, so they told their friends, and that’s how it started."

Hypnobirthing has plenty of celeb fans, with Sam Faiers, Jessica Alba and Angelina Jolie opting for hypnobirths.

Apprentice star Luisa Zissman is planning a hypnobirth for her second daughter next month. She has already experienced the process with her first daughter, Dixie.

She told OK! magazine:

"[I’m due at] the end of July, but I never tell people my exact due date. Hypnobirthing encourages you not to focus on a particular date.

Dixie was four days late but I felt absolutely fine. I don’t understand why people would elect to have a C-section. Hypnobirthing makes the whole process so relaxing."

What is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing has a focus on natural birth.

Hypnotherapy harnesses the power of positive language, with methods designed to induce deep relaxation. The methods include breathing techniques, visualisation, and positive thinking, which aims to lower anxiety, stress, fatigue and fear – all of this helps lessen pain.

The course helps educate mums-to-be on what happens to the body during labour.

This in turn encourages them to have the confidence and control needed to have the best birth possible.

It teaches women not to fear pain and labour, and helps women to learn to work with sensations.

Hynotherapy demonstrates to a woman who's about to give birth that she can create a birthing environment that is calm and serene rather than tense and stressful.

Source: The Hypnobirthing Association

How does hypnobirthing work?

Teri Gavin-Jones says that hypnosis is used to induce a deep relaxation in the pregnant woman, and her partner, if she has one. When the woman is relaxed, her brain wave pattern moves from Beta – fully alert, through to Alpha – restful, into Theta – hypnosis.

During Theta, the mind is much more receptive to suggestion. So, even if the conscious brain believes that birth is painful, the subconscious brain can alter that thought pattern.

Research tells us that women’s thoughts and expectations influence the birth outcome.

This is why it's so important to begin to change how she thinks about birth, early in pregnancy.

Is there a difference between hypnobirthing and natal hypnotherapy?

No. Natal hypnotherapy is just another resource for pregnant women to find hypnobirthing classes.

Other class providers include The Mongan Method and KG.

Another provider is HypnobirthMidwivesUK, which only trains midwives within the NHS to become hypnobirth trainers.

The evidence behind hypnobirthing

Evidence about hypnotherapy’s effectiveness as a pain reliever in labour is inconclusive.

The Wolverhampton Trust has reported that 80% of hypnobirthing mothers have normal births with no analgesic treatments, compared with 60% of the general population who have a normal birth.

One small Australian study showed that those who used hynobirthing had fewer epidurals (36%) than the control group (53%), and relied less on other forms of pain relief.

A study, the largest of its kind, published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, analysed the births of 680 women.

It found that self-hypnosis made no difference to either the method of birth - normal, instrumental or caesarian – or in use of pain relief, between the group who were taught self-hypnosis techniques and the control group.

However, the hypnosis group did report less anxiety about birth.

Further resources

Would you be tempted to try hypnobirthing? Perhaps you have already? Let us know.