Complementary and Integrative Methods of Pain Relief during Labor and Delivery: Hypnosis, Acupuncture/Acupressure, and Water Immersion




Helpenstell, Rachael

Access rights

Worldwide access

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The pain associated with labor and delivery is multi-dimensional and varies among different women and different stages of labor, both in the intensity and quality of the pain. Regardless of these variations, surveys have found that a majority of women rate childbirth pain very high. Since the 1960s, conventional methods of pain relief during labor have consisted of epidural analgesics to numb the pelvis and lower limbs. These methods are effective at decreasing pain, but can also lead to slowed labor, decreased hormone release, and increased need for further medical intervention. As a result, many women prefer to have alternative or complementary pain relief during childbirth. The most commonly reported methods in the literature are hypnosis, acupuncture/acupressure, and water immersion. This scoping review evaluates the benefits of such methods, including decreased cost, decreased adverse side effects, and increased access to pain relief in a variety of settings. Further, complementary methods of pain relief during labor can be effective at decreasing pain with few negative side effects. This review found that hypnosis is the method that is the safest, least limited, and most easily able to be integrated into medical practice.



Complementary and integrative medicine., Complementary and alternative medicine., Hypnosis., Acupuncture., Acupressure., Water immersion., Labor., Delivery., Childbirth., Epidural., Analgesic.