Touch can say so much in labour – a gentle, loving hold from your partner may be all you need to help you stay relaxed and calm. It is a lovely way for couples to feel close during birth without the need for words…
When you are in the middle of contractions, being held and touched, can help you to feel safe. Your partner can make contact with the baby by stroking your abdomen lightly. Loosen hands first (shaking/massage) warm hands and remove any jewellery. Slow, light stroking over the lower abdomen can feel good in labour, especially before 5 cm dilation of the cervix.
Shoulder massage – tension that is associated with hyperventilation begins in the shoulders – massage tops of shoulders and arms and trace the edge of the shoulder blades.
Back massage – long, slow sweeping movements with the hands down either side of your spine, can help you relax between contractions. Rhythmic and alternate hands – need to practice these moves.
Back pain is normally focused at the sacrum – use firm, circular massage.
Foot massage – partner holds your feet in his/her lap and squeezes your foot and then calf front and back and then massage soles of the feet with thumbs. As the next contraction builds – firm thumb pressure is exerted just below the big toe of each foot. Slightly in toward the next toe – experiment with this and you will find a spot in which a strong pressure will produce a buzzing sensation – this is an acupressure pain-prevention point.
Holding – so important when you need to feel safe and grounded – can be scary – so just encircling waist, supporting back of shoulders, encircling a wrist, grasping your feet, holding the bony ridge of your pelvis on either side, cradling your head with a hand on each side, hand cupped over the back of your head. Partner should just be aware of energy exchange and warmth and security…
I’ll be showing you more labour massage strokes in my pregnancy yoga courses and the Natural Childbirth Workshop!