Massage during Labour
Women all feel differently about massage during the different stages of birth. Women in labour generally do not want to be touched after contractions have begun. Being touched during labour when you don’t want to be touched can be really distracting and upsetting so agree to a ‘signal’ with your partner that they understand that signifies touch me/don’t touch me.
Your birth partner should probably wait until the surge is over and then ask you where you would most like to be massaged. The areas of the body that you will probably enjoy having massaged during labour include the back, the buttocks and bum, thighs, legs, tummy and hands. Reflexology on the feet can be very pleasant also. Keep in mind that not everyone wants to be touched during labour. Mum should change massage positions until she finds one that is comfortable for her.
Aromatherapy for Birth
Although the recommended essential oils for pregnancy and birth are fine to use in a vaporiser, we would advise that you consult a qualified aromatherapist before using any essential oil on your skin during pregnancy or birth.
Aromatherapy is the use of scents and essential oils to achieve a desired physical or emotional state and can be very useful during childbirth. Essential oils are derived from plants.
At the most basic level, certain smells make us feel more comfortable and relaxed, while others make us feel tense and nervous. These can be scents that draw on memories, such as your mother’s favourite meal; or they can be scents that just make you feel nice. Some scents may have very similar effects on most people, and some of the effects may be deeper than a change in mood or relaxation. Certain oils may have antibiotic or pain deadening properties also.
When using essential oils, it is important to work with a professional aromatherapist as some oils will not be appropriate for you to use while pregnant. Doulas and midwives are often qualified in this area. It is also important to remember that the senses of a birthing woman are heightened. Smells that are normally enjoyable to you may be overpowering during birth. So use the scents sparingly.
Aromatherapy Birth Blends
Experiment beforehand to make sure that you find the aroma pleasing. A nice relaxing mix to be added to a bowl of hot water is: 2 drops of lavender, 2 drops of geranium and 2 drops of bergamot (or lemon can also be used.)
During labour, Clary sage can be used as it is a sedative, and can also help with pain management. It can be popped into a tissue for inhaling, although it is not recommended if you are using gas and air.
How do I do it?
There are several ways to incorporate aromatherapy into your birth such as…
o Using incense, candles and potpourri to scent the air in your birth area (most hospitals will not allow you to bring in candles;)
o If you are birthing in a tub of warm water, add a small amount of bath oil or shampoo to scent the water;
o Use a vase or two of fresh cut flowers in the birth area as aromatherapy” stations.” As you walk through birth, make sure you “stop and smell the roses;”
o Fruity boiled sweets can give a boost of energy while they bathe you in fresh scents.
This blog is adapted from the revised edition of Birth ROCKS by Cheryl MacDonald, available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.