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There are a lot of alternative pain relief methods for labor, but would you swap an epidural for some self-hypnosis techniques? The majority of women answered this question with a big NO, in a Danish study exploring the topic. The study, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, looked into epidural rates for women who had some instruction in self-hypnosis. The research team pointed out that hypnosis has been used as a pain relief technique for more than 100 years now, and that previous data indicated that self-hypnosis during labor may take some of the pain away.

Lead author Anette Werner from Aarhus University in Denmark and her team collected the data from 1,222 pregnant women. They were all expectant moms receiving prenatal care at their hospital, who were asked to participate in research and randomly assigned to one of three group that were roughly equal in size. The first group attended three one-hour classes on self-hypnosis techniques. The second received three one-hour classes as well, this time learning about "normal" relaxation methods. The third simply received routine prenatal care without any added classes. The researchers found that there was no difference in how women from various groups experienced pain. The epidural rate for all the pregnant women studied was 30 percent, regardless of whether they took self-hypnosis classes. The study team was really surprised about the outcome, and Werner said: "When I have provided hypnosis to women on an individual (basis), I always have an agreement with them that they return after the birth and tell me about their experience and it seemed that they benefited from the hypnosis."

In order words, three one-hour classes didn't do a lot. You wouldn't learn French in three lessons either, or even knitting. Self-hypnosis is a pretty intensive process, and individuals planning to use it as their only form of pain relief during labor often take classes and listen to audio CDs throughout their nine months. Werner acknowledged this, saying: "We need to look further into what happens if we tailor the training for more specific needs, start earlier in pregnancy and intensify the intervention." Right. The other thing is that women who sign up for hypnobirthing classes believe in the technique's ability to relieve pain enough to invest all that time and money into it. Continue on from that, and it is probably more likely to work if you believe it works. What do you think about the news? Would you use hypnosis instead of epidural anesthesia if you thought it would work? Have you used hypnoborthing? Or did you go totally natural and didn't think labor and birth was that much of a deal? We would love to hear your comments!

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