Labor Tools: Massage
What it is:
Massage is a term given to a variety of physical relaxation techniques that use pressure and movement to help stretch and loosen muscles.
How it works:
During labor, tense muscles can cause excessively painful contractions. Massage techniques help to relax muscles, decreasing the sensation of pain.
Massage also promotes an overall bodily relaxation, combating the effects of the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle.
How to do it:
There are numerous reference books written about massage techniques. Additionally, you may be able to find a Licensed Massage Therapist who is able to teach you a few touches that are helpful for labor. We will cover a few basics here.
First, it is important to remember that a laboring woman does not want you to start touching her after the contraction has begun. Nor does she want you to rub her back for a few seconds, then rub her arm, then move back to her neck. Both of these mistakes will cause her to become distracted and she will feel more pain than is necessary. Choose a touch pattern and a part of the body and continue that touch through several contractions.
Second, let the woman find a position that is comfortable for HER, then contort yourself to reach which ever areas of her body are most tense. By forcing her into a position that allows you easy access to her back or legs, you may be defeating your goal of a relaxed body.
Third, if a part of her body is tickled by your touch, consider that to be an indication of tense muscles. Simply apply deep pressure until the muscle is relaxed, and then you will be able to use lighter touches.
Try these specific types of massage:
Implementing into labor:
Hold her arm with one hand, while kneading and the arm with the other hand. Use firm pressure, but do not hurt her arm.
With her hand palm down, support it with one hand while using the other to apply pressure and knead down her index finger. When you reach the end of the finger, stroke from the tip of the finger to the base and then squeeze the whole finger.
If she is in a position that gives you access to her face, place your thumbs on the bridge of her nose. Gently stroke under the eyes and up toward the temples. Repeat the motion moving higher each time.
Place you hands on either side of the thigh. With your fingers pointing away from you, pull your hands up the sides of the leg. When you reach the top, glide your hands to the other side and pull them down to the knee again.