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Self-Hypnosis: Alternative Anesthesia for Childbirth

Ketterhagen, Debra MSN, RNC, CNM; VandeVusse, Leona PhD, RN, CNM, FACNM; Berner, Margaret Ann MSN, RN, CNM, HBCE

MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: November-December 2002 - Volume 27 - Issue 6 - p 335-340
feature articles: CE

The purpose of this article is to inform nurses about the use of self-hypnosis in childbirth. Hypnosis is a focused form of concentration. Self-hypnosis is one form of hypnosis in which a certified practitioner or therapist teaches an individual to induce his or her own state of altered consciousness. When used for childbirth pain, the primary aim of self-hypnosis is to help the woman maintain control by managing anxiety and discomfort though inducing a focused state of relaxation. Before the widespread use of pharmaceuticals for pain, hypnosis was one of the few pain relief methods available for labor. However, as new technologies for pain relief emerged, hypnosis received less attention. Most nurses have little experience with hypnosis, and there is limited information available in the literature. However, because nurses are at laboring women’s bedsides, it is important that nurses learn about self-hypnosis to be able to inform pregnant women fully about all pain control options and to maximize the benefits for the woman choosing hypnosis.

Debra Ketterhagen is a Manager, Women’s Health Center, Waukesha Memorial Hospital, Waukesha, WI. She can be reached c/o Waukesha Memorial Hospital, 725 American Avenue, Waukesha, WI 53188 (e-mail:

Leona VandeVusse is the Nurse-Midwifery Program Director and an Associate Professor, Marquette University College of Nursing, Milwaukee, WI.

Margaret Ann Berner is a Nurse-Midwife/Clinical Instructor at Marquette University College of Nursing, Milwaukee, WI, and a Certified HypnoBirthing® Practitioner.

This study was supported in part by Grant Number 6D09HP00141 from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). The contents of this article are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDHHS.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.