Experiment with massage
There are so many benefits to massage during labour, not least because it’s effective pain relief. A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology found women who received 20 minutes of massage every hour for five hours during labour had lower pain levels and felt less stressed, too. Makes sense, then, for your birthing partner to double up as your personal masseur.
“Different techniques are more effective at different stages,” says Jackie, “and what works for one woman is different to what works for another. So hone your birth partner’s technique and find out what you like beforehand.”
The first technique for your birth partner to add to his or her labour toolkit is light-touch massage, which is done with the tips of your fingers. “This works as a natural TENS machine,” explains Jackie, “activating neurons in the skin, to increase endorphins – your body’s natural pain relief – and levels of oxytocin, and it’s great for the early stages of labour.” Practise stronger massage, too, for more established labour. “Try kneeling on all fours or leaning over your birthing ball,” suggests Jackie. “Ask your partner to stand behind you and use his or her fists to apply pressure on either side of your tailbone.” Try stroking a feather or rolling a tennis ball either side of your spine to see which you prefer, as some women find they don’t want to be directly touched at certain points during labour.