If you want to banish those nerves around giving birth, there are alternative practices and simple acts of controlled breathing, moving and thinking you can try, known as complementary therapies for labour.
Some of the most popular therapies include:
Not only can they bestow upon you a blissfully calm mind and body during your pregnancy – they’ll set you up for a more in-control, relaxed birth, too.
They won’t all be exactly right for you – so it’s a good idea to explore all the options and see what you might like to include in your birth plan.
While you’re weighing up the possibilities, you can click the above links to read about an individual therapy, or you can keep scrolling to read up on all of ‘em.
Check out 6 complementary therapies that can help during labour…
Possibly the cutest-sounding treatment, Daisy Birthing is the brain child of mum-of-5 Julie Long.
Originally known Lazy Daisy, these active birthing classes combine yoga and tai chi-style movement, as well as visualisation techniques and deep breathing.
Julie says it’s designed to help mums feel confident going into labour, allowing them to deal with their fears and tune in to them, rather than shy away from them.
“You don’t actually learn exercises or techniques to play out in the delivery room, but we hope that what you learn makes you relaxed and able to cope when you go into labour,” adds Julie.
“Breathing, moving and relaxing through pregnancy means you learn to reduce adrenaline levels and understand what’s happening to you during labour.”
Daisy Birthing can be learnt though 6 weekly classes or a one-day workshop, which costs around £72 RRP.
Based on ancient Chinese medicine, acupuncture uses small needles on pressure points around the body to help boost blood and Qi (chi) energy to vital organs.
It’s used in early pregnancy to combat morning sickness and tiredness, but can also be used to help prepare you for the birth by calming you.
It can help induce labour and help the baby turn pre-delivery if she’s in a back-to-back position.
Acupuncture has even been shown to ease labour pains and could potentially reduce the need for medical intervention. Some women even have the treatment during contractions.
“There are benefits to practicing yoga during pregnancy…” explains yoga teacher Tammy Jones from Can U Yoga.
“Ranging from keeping you supple without strain, boosting energy, relieving stress and anxiety and promoting relaxation and good sleep.
“Yoga can help relieve back pain, swelling and digestion as you stretch out your body, as well as strengthen the pelvic floor and opening the hips.”
Now, in labour, we’re not talking back bends on the delivery room floor, but you can of course do stretches and breathing to help put you in a relaxed place.
Tammy says: “Giving birth is a natural primal experience, and pregnancy yoga will help you focus around being more comfortable with that.
“During labour you can move around on all fours, squat, and recite mantras that the baby will hear and will be comforted by.
“It’s about connecting with your body. It’s so easy to lose the vital mind-body connection, and yoga helps awaken that connection.”
Aromatherapy involves the use of plant oils, usually in the form of lovely-smelling essential oils, to help boost your mind and your body.
Numerous oils may be beneficial during labour to help relieve stress, relax, act as a uterine tonic (which supposedly boosts female reproductive health), stimulate circulation and so on.
If nothing else, aromatherapy will help clear *that* hospital smell, which some mums can find a tad unsettling.
You can use the oils in 2 ways during labour – either directly on the body via massage, or in an oil burner/vaporizer so that the scent fills the delivery room.
Oils like clary sage and lavender are really popular for labour, though clary sage isn’t suitable for pregnancy – and some oils aren’t suitable for the birth either.
Homeopathy’s a slightly controversial alternative medicine that’s been around roughly 200 years or so.
It essentially involves treatments based on plant extracts, and considering physical symptoms and emotional well-being before making a treatment plan.
Not all docs here in the UK medical community are on board with it, or even think it has any impact.
However, it’s thought to be totally safe to try during labour and there are no known side effects to homeopathic remedies, given that the dosages are so low.
If you’d like to try it during labour, you’ll want to get in touch with a (properly accredited) homeopathic practitioner, and have an initial consultation – unless you’re pretty well-versed in this stuff, in which case you may be fine to self-prescribe.
Their names give it away – but acupressure is actually very similar to acupuncture.
The main difference is it doesn’t involve the use of very thin needles. Instead, acupressure points all over the body are stimulated using the fingers and hands.
Once these points are stimulated (either by a pro or by someone who’s been training with the proper techniques), it’s supposed to release blockages of energy in the body.
As far as we know, none of our MFM mums have tried it themselves, but if you like the sound of acupuncture but aren’t so keen on needles, this might be worth investigating…
You should keep your midwife up to date with any complementary therapies you’re interested in – you never know, they might happen to be an expert in it ?
Images: Getty Images