Massage can be a great way to help a laboring woman cope with labor. During contractions a woman may tense up her muscles leading to the fear-tension-pain cycle which can easily spiral out of control. Massage helps a woman relax as well as helps to keep her mind off the painful sensations. Massage can also release endorphins which help the mom cope with pain. Here are some types of massage that some women find helpful. Don’t be discouraged if in labor she rejects these! What might feel good one moment might feel horrible the next!
Tip: Don’t try a technique after a contraction has already started as it can be distracting. Start in between contractions and continue through if the mother wants you to.
Description: Light touch applied over a large are of the body, like the back or the arm
- Broad effleurage – Use your whole palm to massage a wide area. Lotion or oil is good at maintaining a smooth movement
- Feathering – Use just your fingertips to create a more delicate sensation
Here is a video on effleurage
Description: Wrap your hands around the arms, back, etc. and spread the muscles in opposite directions, like kneading dough
- This can be good to get a mother to relax in between contractions but may be too intense during contractions
- Watch your partners body for signs of tension and then try and massage those parts
- Shoulders, arms, and legs can be helpful but make sure to do it strongly enough so that it doesn’t tickle, but gently enough to where it doesn’t hurt
Description: Pointed pressure applied to the body using a firm point like your fingertips. Steady pressure that increases gradually.
- Good places to do this include down the spine and shoulder blades
- Firm pressure in a circular motion at just the right spot may relieve tension
Description: Using light-touch methods to release endorphins
- Use smooth movements and try not to tickle
- Cover wide areas
- Don’t stroke in two directions, start and end on the same point
- Stroke down long parts of the body, ie the back, arms, legs