- Aromatherapy oils (lavender, neroli, chamomile, frankinsense and clary sage) can be used to aid relaxation, promote breathing, reduce pain perception and assist in the secretion of endorphins.
- Mental relaxation and visualisation Visualisation is the ability to ‘see’ something in your mind’s eye, a picture of something that is not visible at that moment. It harnesses the enormous power of your mind and imagination and is an easy technique to learn. Visualisation works well with breathing and relaxation to help still your ‘internal chattering’ and give the brain an easy focus, as your mind sometimes goes into overdrive when your body relaxes.
Images that can be helpful and relaxing include a peaceful scene in the country, watching a waterfall, being at the beach on a sunny day, a tree at a river, a favourite chair next to a fireplace, or any place real or imaginary that makes you feel at peace, safe and secure. Visualising a positive image or the opening of the uterus eases the progress of labour. Practise your relaxation, breathing and visualisation techniques daily when you are doing your chores.
- Music is a popular aid to relaxation and can enhance your visualisation.
- Warm water in a bath or shower can be very soothing.
- Hot compresses made with face cloths or towels soaked in hot water and applied to painful areas can reduce pain.
- Cold compresses such as ice packs, can increase comfort, particularly for a back labour and reduce pain and swelling if applied to the perineum after delivery.
- Movement is a good tension-relieving technique. Changing position frequently reduces pain, enhances the effects of gravity and possibly speeds up the labour.
- Liquids from sucking on ice chips or a piece of natural sponge, or sipping water or juice, will help quench your thirst.
- Cleaning your teeth or using a mouthwash is also refreshing.
- Empty your bladder, as a full bladder can increase discomfort during a contraction.
Massage can be soothing
- Firm stroking.
- Fingertip massage.