Labor can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. There are simple techniques to bring you down from your fear, tension or pain and back to a more grounded place. That’ll better allow you to roll with your contractions and give baby a smoother entrance earth-side.
These non-verbal techniques can be used at home or in the hospital or birth center. You can even use them during a cesarean birth. They are good for dad or partner too, if they need the assistance.
All of these techniques make the recipient feel safe and supported. The pressure from the supporting partner’s hands provide the sense of calm and relaxation a laboring woman needs.
Technique 1: Hands on the Shoulders
Though it may look like a shoulder massage, it’s not. Shoulder and neck massage is a lovely thing, for sure, however this is different. This is an acknowledgement of where Josh sees Amy’s stress physically manifested. It’s non verbal communication to her that he sees the tension and is going to gently alleviate it for her, wordlessly,
Here, Josh places his hands firmly on Amy’s shoulders. He does not press down, rather, he allows his hands to be heavy, like small sandbags. This gentle weight encourages Amy’s shoulders to begin to droop, thus releasing the tension she held there. He will leave his hands there for as long as it takes, usually 1-3 minutes.
Technique 2: Hand on the Sternum
Leaving one hand on Amy’s shoulder, Josh moves his other hand to Amy’s sternum, or breastbone. His hand rests below her collarbone as to not touch her neck. He allows his hand to weigh heavy on her chest so he can feel her heart beating and her breathing. Amy reported that it felt like “when a cat sleeps on your chest”. Josh will be able to feel when her breath returns to a more normal pace, thus indicating her calming. This will take 1-3 mins, or more, as needed.
Technique 3: Hand on the Forehead
Here you can see Josh has moved his and to Amy’s forehead. His pinkie finger is at her eyebrows and his hand wraps firmly, but gently around her head. Her head is supported such that her neck muscles do not need to work against the pressure of his hand. That would negate the benefits of the touch, if she has to work.
His hand is over her third eye point, which in yoga practice, can help ground us when we put the forehead to the floor in child’s pose.
Check out the rest of the labor posture series with Josh and Amy:
Want to know more?
In, Confident Birthing, my Lamaze class, we go over these labor postures and a host of others to make you more comfortable, speed labor along and teach your partner how to best support you during birth.
Can’t make a group class? Private childbirth classes are available either in-person or via Skype to get you ready for baby.