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Hypnosis for labour preparation has been gaining popularity especially since some celebrities, such as Jessica Alba, have been rumoured to have had used it to help them during labour. The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom promotes the use of hypnosis for labour preparation. In fact, the midwives in the NHS hospitals are being trained to use hypnosis as a tool for women to achieve comfortable birth.

However, the focus of hypnosis during pregnancy has been on the preparation of labour. Some women do start hypnosis early in the pregnancy due to some medical conditions such as hyperemesis gravidarum or severe nausea and vomiting, while others use it to reduce anxiety and fear over labour and what awaits them at postpartum following deliveries.

My studies (published in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis) showed that women in the experimental group, with hypnosis intervention had lower incidence of stress, anxiety and depression compared to women in the control group who did not receive any hypnosis intervention.

Dr Zuhrah Beevi, Psychology lecturer at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

In general, there is a lack of awareness on starting hypnosis early in the pregnancy to achieve this comfortable birth, consequently reducing the number of sessions needed for labour preparation in the third trimester.

Aside from using hypnosis to alleviate hyperemesis gravidarum early in the pregnancy, hypnosis does help in reducing the incidence of leg cramps, reducing the need to wake up at night to empty bladder, and later in the pregnancy, increasing better sleep quality and reducing discomfort cause by the growing womb.

Hypnosis contributes to the overall health by increasing a sense of relaxation and alleviate psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression.

It is hoped that the use of hypnosis for pregnancy, labor and postpartum by well-trained therapists will be more accepted in Malaysia in general and hospitals in particular, as it is an excellent adjunct to medical interventions by the Obstetricians.