I found an interesting study looking at how Hypnosis can help moms with Preterm Labor.
To be honest, I am not the best Stats person, so I asked my friend Kathy if she would read and interpret it for me. She was wonderful and did. Here is how she translated all the stats into completely understandable language!
The study showed that from initiation of hypnosis until birth the average time was 3/4 of the way to 40 weeks — if she started hypnosis at 30 weeks and gave birth at 40 weeks, it was 100%, but if she gave birth at 35 weeks, it would have been 50% (halfway between 30 and 40); if she started hypnosis at 34 weeks and made it to 35 weeks, it was 1/6 of the way to 40 weeks, so it would have been 16.7%, but if she made it to 37 weeks, that would be 50%. The average time of the control group (who got only “standard premature birth” treatment) was 50% of the time from initiation of treatment to 40 weeks. Both groups had the same average starting gestational age, which is good, because if the “hypnosis” group started at 30 weeks and made it to 34 weeks, while the “control” group started at 33 weeks and made it to 34 weeks, then that wouldn’t seem to be an improvement, although the hypnosis group lasted 4 weeks, compared to 1 week in the control group — because the pregnancies would have still ended at the same time. However, I don’t know that “40 weeks” necessarily ought to have been the goal (although if that *weren’t* it, I don’t know what *should* have been), because many babies are actually read to be born at 37, 38, or 39 weeks, and preventing their timely birth should not be a goal. :-)
The birthweights also showed a better result from the hypnosis group (which is not surprising, since their pregnancies lasted longer, giving them more time for the babies to gain weight). So, that seems to me to be saying the same thing — birthweights tend to increase the longer a woman is pregnant; but it would have been odd had the hypnosis group had lower birthweights than the control group, while having longer average pregnancies.
One thing that might possibly be troubling is the higher incidence of birthweights under 1500 grams, but I’m not sure if it was statistically significant; and it certainly seems to be more than offset by the over-50% incidence of birthweights of 3000 grams or more.
The researchers tried to control for the known variables influencing preterm birth (table 2); and most of the variables were similar, or favored the control group — the one that did not, was in previous induced abortion.
As the researchers pointed out, it may be that hypnosis/relaxation alone helped to keep the women pregnant; but they also point out that social interaction alone (which was necessarily involved with the hypnosis itself, and the tapes the women listened to afterwards) may have been the key. This is interesting to me, in that midwives tend to have better results than doctors do, in regards to preterm birth [see this story and this CDC news release], and their hour-long prenatal visits may be a big portion of it, especially compared to the 5-15 minute OB visits.
What would need to be done, is a study undertaken of women who have hypnosis and continuing relaxation exercises, as described in this study, vs. women who had social interaction at the same levels described in the study, to see if there could be a difference attributable solely to hypnosis. At this point, (unless the study was later refuted, or a larger study was undertaken that found no difference) you can say that hypnosis and relaxation appear to have benefits in reducing preterm birth with a concurrent increase in birthweight. From what I know of Hypnobabies, the women practice the hypnosis/relaxation techniques daily (or at least, frequently), and/or fall asleep listening to the relaxation CDs. This seems to be very similar to what the study described, if not more “social interaction” than the study used, which would indicate to me that if the results of the study are accurate, then they would certainly apply to Hypnobabies.
You can download the Baby Stay In MP3 from the Hypnobabies Website!