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Expectant Mothers To Be Taught Hypnotherapy In NHS Trial

Pregnant women are to be taught how to use hypnotherapy in labour as an alternative to painkillers.

Expectant mothers will learn to put themselves in a trance like state just before giving birth, it is hoped the clinical hypnotherapy will save money on costly treatments such as epidurals, laughing gas or morphine.

More than 800 first time mothers are to take part in the NHS's trial which will last 18 months. It is hoped treating women to control their pain could even reduce the need for supervision from midwives, which would ease the pressure on Britain's maternity wards which are increasingly overstretched.

Statistics indicate that in some hospitals as many as 60 per cent of mothers have epidurals, where anaesthetics are injected into their spine. Others have injections of diamorphine, pethidine or inhale laughing gas. In addition to being expensive, some medical experts have claimed they could be harmful for both mother and baby.

For example, epidurals have been found to increase the length of childbirth which makes it more likely that a woman will need a Cesarean. However, it has also been suggested that having an epidural may hinder a new mother's ability to breastfeed- although this has never been confirmed. Despite this, there are also fears that an epidural has links to post-natal depression.

Professor Soo Downe a specialist in midwifery at Central Lancashire University will lead the trial at hospitals in Blackburn and Burnley, she told The Daily Mail: "The idea is to give women the capacity to manage their labour themselves. If the results are promising we will do further trials."

"The intention would then be to provide free hypnobirthing training on the NHS."

If the trial proves successful, pregnant women will meet for several hours with a hypnotherapist who will teach women to put themselves into a state of deep relaxation. Negative words such as 'pain' and 'contraction' will be replaced with neutral terms such as 'pressure' and 'tightening.'

Women will also learn massage techniques which will enable them to stimulate their bodies release of endorphins, the body's natural painkiller.