This post is the fourth in a series about comfort measures for labor that appeal to each of the five senses. Today, we're focusing on the sense of touch! Check out these six ways that touch can help you manage labor.
(Photo by Isaac Ordaz on Unsplash)
In early labor, it may feel nice to have someone (your husband/partner, doula, friend, etc.) to lightly run their fingers along your arms, shoulders, back, or other places. The backs of the fingers work well for this, and the light, stroking motion should feel like a pleasant tickle, encouraging you to release any tension you may be holding. A head massage tool, like this one, gives a similar sensation for your scalp. Some people (e.g. me) love it, and some people (e.g. my husband!) hate it.
Counter pressure during labor relieves the stretching and contracting sensations, invites you to focus your attention somewhere else, and can give baby more room to descend. There are tons of different types of counter pressure, and lots of places where a little pressure gives great relief: head, shoulder, knees, tail bone, hips, and more! If you're the one giving counter pressure to someone in labor, always ask to know how much pressure feels good--it may be a lot more than you'd guess!
Get the Oxytocin Flowing!
(Photo by Annette Sousa on Unsplash)
Oxytocin--the love hormone--makes you feel SO good, AND it keeps labor moving along! Kissing and cuddling can be an effective way to make labor as enjoyable as possible, and it will bring you closer together as you enter the next stage of parenthood!
Heat and Cold
(Photo by Pixabay)
During labor, both hot and cold can be helpful for different purposes. A heating pack on your lower back can feel great during contractions, and as you get closer to meeting your baby, a nice cold compress on your forehead or shoulders may feel fantastic.
(Photo by Yellow Kite Lifestyle Photography)
Sometimes the comfort of a hand on your shoulder or a nice leg rub can feel great in between (maybe even during) contractions. Comforting touch can add a sense of security and safety for you--which is critically important as you open your body to bring your baby into the world!
No, Thank You
(Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash)
It's also possible that you won't want anyone to touch you at all during labor! You may turn inside yourself and find outside touch distracting or uncomfortable. It's important to have a birth team that you trust to be responsive to your needs in the moment, because it's hard to predict what exactly you'll want during labor!
What kinds of touch do you expect you'll like during labor? Or do you think you'll prefer a hands-off labor?
Hi, I'm Sara. I'm a childbirth educator and birth + postpartum doula serving Utah county. I'm a twin mom (plus one!), natural VBACer, and birth lover!