Massage During LaborParticularly during early labor, having a partner massage your lower back, thighs or hips during contractions can be a welcome distraction and relief. Use a massage oil rather than bare hands-it is wise to have a fragrance-free option available, as even a favorite scent may become nauseating or overpowering during labor. Aromatherapy oils may, however, be effective-lavender is famous for its calming effect. Aromatherapy oils are usually diluted in a carrier oil such as apricot kernel oil before applying to the skin, for safety reasons. Your partner need not be qualified in massage, although this is a bonus! Communication will ensure that he or she is applying pressure correctly and at the right moments.
Applying Heat Treatment During Labor
A hot Nature Creation Herbal Pack can be effective in reducing the pain of contractions. Women who turn to heat for pain relief during menstruation are likely to find this method comforting. It is useful to have a partner on hand to reheat the bags or bottles as necessary! A long wheat bag (or rice bag), which is big enough to cover the entire lower back from hip to hip, is especially useful. Wheat or rice bags have an advantage over hot water bottles in terms of safety-a laboring woman can lie on them, twist, squeeze or even bite them without fear of rupturing them!
Laboring or Birthing In Water
Laboring and even giving birth in a birth pool or tub is becoming an increasingly popular birth choice. Women have many reasons for choosing a water birth, but pain relief is often a major factor in the decision. Current medical advice suggests that a laboring woman not enter the pool until she is 5–6 cm dilated, in order to avoid the water stalling labor. While some women find that the water intensifies their contractions, most report a sensation of relief, weightlessness and calm upon getting into the pool. Other women, who choose not to use a birthing pool, find that laboring in the shower provides a similar level of pain relief. One advantage a pool has over a shower is the ease with which a woman can change positions. Aromatherapy oils can also be added to a pool, although this is not recommended if the woman plans to give birth in the pool. Again, bear in mind that some scents may seem overpowering or unpleasant while in labor.
Using TENS Machines for Labor Pain Relief
A slightly higher-tech method of pain relief, TENS machines involve applying electrodes to the lower back, which send electrical signals to the brain, interrupting the pain signals of labor. Mixed results have been reported with these machines; however, they have the usual advantages of drug-free pain relief options, in that they are safe for mother and baby.
Using Raspberry Leaf Tea to Shorten Labor
Red raspberry leaf tea is a uterine tonic, often recommended for pregnant woman during the third trimester to promote Braxton-Hicks contractions and strengthen the womb in preparation for labor. Although no scientific studies have been done, many women report that a large, strong brew of raspberry leaf tea at the onset of labor quickens labor and helps diminish the pain experienced. Raspberry leaf tea can be drunk sweetened or plain, hot or iced. The tea can also be sipped throughout labor, to keep hydrated.