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Labour massage techniques

Massages during labour can reduce muscle tension and help with relaxation. Here’s how to do it right.

Watching your partner give birth can be challenging, which isn’t something you’re really allowed to say when she’s doing all the hard work! But truth is, seeing her in all that pain can evoke a range of emotions, and it’s not unusual to feel powerless, inadequate, or anxious. But even if you can’t physically push out the baby, you play an important role as her number one emotional and physical support person. And massage is one of the tricks you should have up your sleeve!

Touch and massage may help to reduce muscle tension, and relax or distract your partner in-between contractions. Read on for some important labour massage tips and techniques.

READ MORE: Dealing with visitors in hospital

Labour massage techniques

It’s a good idea to discuss and practice some labour massage techniques with your partner before birth. But here are some suggested techniques as a starting point:

Use as much of your hand as possible to apply firm, predictable pressure in long continuous strokes. Start from the neck all the way down the back on either side of her vertebrae, and down around the hips. You might want to across the shoulders and down the arms as well.

With the heel of your hand, apply slow, firm circular pressure near the base of her spine. This may help ease back pain as the baby moves down.

Help her to relax her shoulders by rolling tight muscles between your thumb and finger.

A light temple, foot, hand or calf massage may help to distract or relax your partner between contractions.

Things to be prepared for

Don’t be surprised if your normally calm, kind lady suddenly pushes you off with the ferocity of an NRL player ducking a tackle. When contractions get more intense, touch that was pleasurable before can suddenly become unbearable. Don’t expect an apology either, chances are that she’ll be so focused on getting the baby out that she won’t care about your feelings. Sorry.

All women react differently to birth and there is no way to really predict what kind of massage she will want or need when the time comes. You need to be flexible, and respond to her needs and understand that some women will demand that their backs be rubbed for hours on end, and others will not want to be touched at all – and most will be a mixture of the two.

READ MORE: Dealing with mood swings in your partner

Where can you learn to give a birth massage?

If you’re looking to win birthing partner of the year, why not try practising massage techniques with your partner at home, or even book in to see a massage therapist before the big day.

Pregnancy Massage Australia offers tutorials for birth-partners. Check online for a course near you.

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