Self Hypnosis Intrapartum Trial (SHIP trial)

Latest research on the use of hypnobirthing

With the increase awareness and use of hypnobirthing in the UK, the results of the first major UK trial into the efficacy of hypnobirthing - the Self Hypnosis Intrapartum trial (SHIP) due out any day, are eagerly awaited.

The increase in the use of hypnobirthing has risen steadily over the last 10 years as, more and more women have heard, mainly through word of mouth, that learning and practicing a few simple techniques can help them reduce pain, feel more in control and reduce the need for medical intervention.

The increase in awareness went sky high last year when it was reported that the Duchess of Cambridge used hypnosis to help overcome morning sickness and then again as a method to prepare for labour. Some may argue that the hypnobirthing techniques enabled her to stay super calm and have a natural birth whilst under the scrutiny of the world's media in a hospital where the overriding majority of women have epidurals or caesarean sections.

However - is this just wishful thinking or is there any clinical evidence to back this up?

In realty there is little clinical evidence to show if it does or does not work. However, in the next few weeks, the results of the SHIP trial (funded by the NHS) will be published which will provide much needed clinical evidence to either support or refute the efficacy of this growing trend.

The study which has been headed up Prof Soo Downe, was run by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. The study offered a group of pregnant women the chance to attend a two hour long course with their partner, where they were taught how to use self-hypnosis techniques to stay more relaxed and so better able to control pain in childbirth. They were then given a self-hypnosis CD to take away and use at home. The birth outcomes of this group of women were then compared with another group of pregnant women who didn't attend classes or listen to the CD.

For an expert opinion and insight into the conclusions of the trial, Maggie Howell is the UKs leading and most established clinical Hypnotherapist who has dedicated the last 12 years into the development and use of Hypnobirthing. An experienced, articulate broadcaster and media spokesperson, Maggie will be available for interview to answer questions about the use of and reported benefits of hypnobirthing, especially on the impact that it can have on a mothers' ability to reduce fear and anxiety in the lead up to and during the birth.

Maggie Howell has been a leading force in the UK, helping women move away from a fear fuelled approach to birth to one which promotes confidence and normality which recently earned her the title of finalist in the "UKs normal birth champion" awards. Her award winning Natal Hypnotherapy range of hypnobirthing CDs/MP3s,book and classes, the training for which is accredited by the Royal College of Midwives, have been used by over 100,000 parents-to-be in the UK and around the world. She works closely with a network of high profile midwives and antenatal educators and has trained over 1,000 midwives on the concepts, uses and benefits of hypnobirthing and on how Midwives, doulas and doctors can support women choosing this method. She is also mother to 5 sons, all of who were born whilst she practiced what she preaches.

Maggie Howell is available for interview or comment: email