John Teleska, M.Ed., NBCCH

Integrative Medicine Department, Clifton Springs Hospital &
Private Practice, Pittsford, NY (near Rochester)

Hypnosis for Birth

About John Teleska's practice

About John Teleska

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Endorsements by colleagues

About hypnotherapy

What is hypnosis?

"Unconscious" means...?

What's it good for?

What will I experience?

How many sessions?

About hypnotic ability

Hypnosis for...

...relief from anxiety
       fears, and phobias

...pain relief

...migraine relief

...birth & comfort

...recovering from trauma
       (including sexual abuse)

...people with cancer

Evidence-based medical uses of hypnosis

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Hypnotic interaction

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Modern hypnotherapy

Client comments

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Selected bibliographies

Uses of hypnosis

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Pain relief

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Hypnosis and birth

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"When contractions came
I just went with them.

I had the sense that
my body was talking to me...
and I was listening."

—K., mother of Sophia and Elliot
(and a client with whom I
worked before each birth)

"One of the top three easiest and shortest births I’ve experienced."

—Sherry Sugrue Smith
Birth Counselor & Doula
(after tending to mother, above)
Sophia, born 4/14/06, and...
...her brother Elliot, born 9/27/08
In my experience
Conception, gestation, and birth are part of the natural cycle of life. In this work, hypnotherapy engages the mother's natural, if unconscious, abilities to bring to term and give birth to her baby in the healthiest, most comfortable way possible. This isn't about fixing something that's broken—it's about supporting something natural and life giving—literally.

The expectant mother's concerns, including any anxieties and issues about comfort, are tended to during our sessions. As she learns self-hypnosis, she gains a tool which supports her comfort and confidence before, during, and after the birth experience. The father/birth partner, if available, learns specific ways to support the mother hypnotically accessing calm and comfort during the birthing process.

In over ten years of working with expectant parents, I find it remarkable that all of the expectant mothers, without exception, have easily learned hypnosis and used it to increase their sense of well-being. Perhaps this is because expectant moms are already tapped into their natural abilities to accomplish childbirth... hypnotherapy simply supports the natural process already under way.

[Since I wrote the above, a study published in July 2009 confirms that women, when pregnant, become more available to hypnotic engagement (Alexander, 2009).]

What studies say
According to the research, and in my experience of working with more than 30 expectant mothers, the minimum benefits one should expect from using hypnotherapy in support of birth include:

Vivian, born 4/13/07
1. a significant reduction in the duration of the first stage of labor (the time from the onset of labor till the end of cervical dilation); this benefit is especially pronounced for first-time mothers;
2. less perception of pain during labor;
3. greater satisfaction with and enjoyment of childbirth;
4. reduced use of analgesics and anesthesia during childbirth;
5. reduced complications during childbirth; and
6. reduced risk of preterm (early) delivery.

(Supporting research includes: Brown, 2007; McCarthy, 2001; Mehl-Madronna, 2004; see Bibliography, below.)

The feedback I receive after birth from the parents themselves (see client quotes throughout this page) and from the clinical professionals present at the birth supports the research findings, above.

"I was part of it, I wasn’t uncomfortable,
I was able toexperience my son coming out,
and his first breath and his first cry.
I had tears, my husband had tears.

At that moment he came out,
I looked at my husband, he looked at me, and he said,
‘Maybe we should have another one.’"

—G., a client, recounting the moment of birthing

Number of sessions
I find four to six sessions spaced a week or more apart is sufficient for most mothers to gain confidence in what is learned. The therapist uses the mother's experience between sessions to guide the work done in subsequent sessions.

Individual rather than group work
No one would claim that one type of dress, or one hairstyle, or one pair of eye glasses suit all pregnant women; neither does a standardized program of hypnotherapy. It must be tailored to fit the needs and learning styles of the individual who is pregnant.

Research shows that, while group hypnosis training produces good results (Harmon, 1990), in clinical practice, one-on-one therapy is even better (McCarthy, 2001). This matches my own experience. Years ago, with birth counselor and doula Sherry Sugrue Smith (see About birth doulas, below), I co-facilitated groups for expectant parents. Over time, I became aware that the specifics of an interaction with one couple might not be relevant for, or meet the needs of, the other couples present.

Each woman follows a different path... her and her baby’s most positive and comfortable birth. Accordingly, I now work only with individual expectant mothers and their birth-partner. This allows more time to focus on the talents and abilities, as well as the concerns, of the individual.

"During our sessions it came back to me that I know how to relax. Before I might just sit in my stress, but now after Ryan’s birth, I use what I learned to set up a place at home to provide myself relaxation like that while I nurse him."

—P., describing her use of self-hypnosis after birth

Vivian's sister Lilly, born 9/8/04
About birth doulas
I sometimes refer my clients to also work with Sherry Sugrue Smith, birth counselor and birth doula. A doula works with the mother throughout her pregnancy—helping her develop a birth plan and providing comfort measures—and stays with her at the hospital during labor and delivery as her advocate and support.

Sherry and I have collaborated for over 10 years working with—and supporting—expectant parents in accomplishing the most comfortable, healthiest birth possible for Mother and Baby. With five children of her own and 25 years of experience in the role of doula, Sherry has solid relationships with area OB/GYN medical providers and staff and a wealth of birth related knowledge. She is founder of Doulas of ViaHealth. Sherry can be reached at (585) 358-8443 or by email at

Books on hypnobirthing for expectant parents
Marie Mongan developed a step-by-step program for teaching expectant parents to use hypnosis in support of birthing. In the late 90s I trained in her methods, and often find them useful for some of my clients. For more about her books go to hypnobirthing at

Bibliography: Hypnotherapy in support of birth


Alexander, B., Turnbull, D., Cyna, A. (2009). The effect of pregnancy on hypnotizability. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 52(1), 13-22.


Brown, D. C., Hammond, D. C. (2007). Evidence-based clinical hypnosis for obstetrics, labor and delivery, and preterm labor. The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 55(3), 355-371.


Harmon, T., Hyan, M., and Tyre, T. (1990). Improved obstetric outcomes using hypnotic analgesia and skill mastery combined with childbirth education. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 58(5), 525-530.


McCarthy, P. (2001). Hypnosis in obstetrics and gynecology. In Fredericks, L. The use of hypnosis in surgery and anesthesiology, 163-211. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Ltd.


Mehl-Madrona, L. (2004). Hypnosis to facilitate uncomplicated birth. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 46(4), 299-312.


Mongan, M. (2005). Hypnobirthing: The Mongan method: A natural approach to a safe, easier, more comfortable birthing. (see


Rossi, R., Check, D. (1988). Accessing and reframing unconscious fears in obstetrics patients. Mind-Body Therapy: Methods of ideodynamic healing in hypnosis. 280-316.

 Contact information

John Teleska, M.Ed.
(585) 264-9497

 Office Locations

38 Parkridge Drive
Pittsford, NY 14534
SE of Rochester by Powder Mill Park near Bushnell’s Basin exit 27 of I-490
Integrative Medicine Department
Clifton Springs Hospital
2 Coulter Road
Clifton Springs, NY 14432
between Canandaigua and Geneva,
New York

Copyright © 2014 by John Teleska. All rights reserved. Updated 7/7/16.