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Alternative therapies are used instead of
conventional or mainstream therapies for
examples, the use of
acupuncture/acupressure rather than
analgesics to relieve pain.

Complementary therapies are those used in
conjunction with conventional therapies for
example meditation used as an adjunct to
analgesics drugs.


The word hypnosis originates from the Greek Hypnos which
means sleep. Hypnosis is not sleep but a state of attentive and
focused concentration in which the patient can be relatively
unaware, yet not completely blind to their surroundings.
Hypnotic focus on diminishing the awareness of pain as well
as fear and anxiety.

Self hypnosis can be taught at various

hypnosis training centres on special
childbirth classes that teach the
technique of positive statements and
concentrating on beautiful images of

Biofeedback is a treatment that uses
monitoring instruments to provide
visual or acoustic feedback to patients
physiological information of which they
are normally unaware

It puts the patient in control

and gives them a sense of
self-reliance that is an
important factor for laboring
woman. For example childbirth
classes or childbirth classes
plus video session about
coping with labour pain etc.


Yoga, a method of Indian origin,

proposes control of mind and body.
Between the different types of yoga,
energy yoga can be applied to
pregnancy and delivery. Through
special training of breathing, it
achieves changes in levels of
consciousness, relaxation, receptivity
to the world and inner peace.

According to professionals
who use this technique for
delivery, yoga shortens the
duration of labor, decreases
pain and reduces the need for
analgesic medication.

The word sophrology derives from two Greek words, sos
harmony or serenity and phren conscience or spirit. This
technique derived from Indian yoga was introduced in Europe
during the 1960s.
Its purpose is to improve the control of body and spirit through
three degrees of dynamic relaxation: concentration,
contemplation and meditation.

Applied to obstetrics, better

control of the delivery process is
expected. Patients individually
report a high degree of
satisfaction with this experience of
relaxation during prenatal classes
and delivery, but there is no
controlled evaluation in the


The use of music to relieve pain and decrease anxiety has

been known to be helpful for the relief of postoperative
pain for same time. Research regarding the use of music
to reduce labour pain has also demonstrated that music
may be used to promote relaxation during the early
stages of labour and as a stimulant to promote movement
during later stages, when physical exertion is required for
bearing down process.

Phumdoung and Good 2003, in their

study described music consistently
provided significant relief from severe
pain across 3 hours of labour and
delayed the increase of affective pain
for 1 hour, it also delayed increase in
distress of pain for an hour and for
some, relief was fairly substantial.

In another study done decades ago by

Hanser, Larson, O Connell 1983 indicated
that mothers recorded fewer pain
responses in the music versus no music
groups and that music aided concentration,
relaxation, cued breathing and diverted
attention from pain. It indicated that music
made from a positive contribution to the
child bearing experience for mothers.

Acupuncture is well known Chinese practice. In this
one uses needles inserted at specific points to relieve
pain this therapy is found beneficial and relaxing
during pregnancy.
It is used to relieve pain and also to reduce morning

The placement of the needle will depend

on which stage of labor patient is and
kind of pain.
Advisable to take this treatment with
experienced certificate practitioners.
The basic theory include altering the
bodys levels of chemical
neurotransmitters and influencing the
natural electrical currents or
electromagnetic fields


Acupressure is a descendant of
Chinese manipulative therapy in which
points are stimulated by pressure,
using hands, fingers and thumbs .

There are homeopathic drugs that may help to lessen
the pain of natural child birth. These are pills with no side
effects to be said that have to be taken at regular intervals
throught out the labour.
Though homeopathy is not recognized as a way of curing
an ailment or pain quickly, it can start from the later
months of pregnancy, with the aim of reducing the
eventual labour pain. These drugs only be taken by
recognized homeopathy practitioner and obstetrician.


The purpose of therapeutic touch in labor is to

communicate caring and reassurance. Painful
contractions of the uterus can be treated by the
application of pressure with the hands to the
woman's back, abdomen, hips, thighs, sacrum or

Whether touch is perceived as positive or not is

dependent on who is touching the patient: in one
study, touching was perceived positively by 94% of
patients when they were touched by a relative or
friend, 86% by their husbands, 73% by a nurse and
21% by a physician (32). Anxiety is reported to be
reduced in patients who receive reassuring touch. In a
retrospective study of 30 patients, 77% experienced
less pain when they were touched during labor, and
40% reported less need for pain medication.

Touch and manipulation with the hands has been
used in the practice of medicine since its
inception. The value of touch and massage and its
positive effect is well documented.
Massage therapy can incorporate in nursing
practice throughout labour to promote relaxation
and stress reduction.

Massage is thought to have a physiological basis,

blocking pain impulses by increasing A-fiber
transmission or by stimulating the local releases of
endorphins, stimulating large-diameter nerve fibers to
close a gate of pain, stimulating mechanoreceptors,
stimulating circulation with resultant increased
oxygenation to tissues and facilitating the excretion
of toxins through the lymphatic system.
Massage has been shown to be factors in
promoting labour progress, decreasing pain
perception and increasing the womans ability to cope
with labour.


This is a method of pain management in which
electrodes fitted at the back, to pass electric
current into the body. This stimulates the natural
secretion of endorphins, the bodys painkillers. This
usually used in the early stages of pregnancy and
has no known side effect..


This is relatively new technique for curbing back pain during

labour. Using this technique allows the mother to remain fully
conscious during labour. She can move and may not need an
epidural in the later stage. Counter-irritation is the process
by which localized pain felt in one part of the body may be
relieved by irritating the skin in same dematomal distribution
with either a hot, cold scratchy or electrical Stimulus.

Pure sterile water is injected

into 4 specific locations on the
lower back of the back of the
mother. This may cause a
stringing pain 20-30 seconds, but
relief lasts for an hour, are more
and procedure can be repeated
any number of times.


The use of hydrotherapy during labour, whether

in a shower or a tub, is a proven means of
relaxation and pain relief. The warm water
stimulates the release of endorphins, relaxes
muscles to decrease tension, stimulates large
diameters nerve fibers to close gate on pain, and
promotes better circulation and oxygenation.

Hydrotherapy can promote increased

diueresis, decreased edema, decreased
blood pressure, enhanced fetal rotation
due to increased buoyancy faster labour,
less use of intramuscular and intravenous
medications, less use of epidural,
episiotomies and increased satisfaction
with birth experience. Prior to
implementing hydrotherapy procedures
and protocols should be developed.

A common question asked by providers is

whether hydrotherapy can or should be
used when membranes are ruptured.
Several studies have looked at the risks of
using hydrotherapy after rupture of
membranes. Finding gave shown no
increase in choriomnionitis, postpartum
endometritis, neonatal infections etc.,
however precautions needed to reduce


The Swiss Ball has been used in physical therapy

and exercise programs for decades. Birth balls
were originally developed by physiotherapists and
used for treating ortho-neural disorders, but using
them has been found equally beneficial for a
pregnant woman. Research on the use of ball
demonstrates a significant improvement in core
muscle stability, including the muscles of the
chest, abdomen and pelvis

These muscles are instrumental in the labour

process for deep breathing, pushing and
general movement Rocking and movement can
be accomplished on a birthing ball during
labour not only does the ball facilitate the
physiologic benefits of movements to help the
fetus find its best ffit through the pelvis but
also promotes comfort and can decrease pain
by stimulating mechanoreceptors and joint

The ball should be used with the

following precautions:
The woman should never use the
balls unless her support person is with
The woman should always have a firm
support in front of her to hold on to for
A policy should be written outlining


Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of

plant derived essential oils to promote
physical and psychological wellbeing
.Essential oils are lipid soluble and are
rapidly absorbed when applied externally
or are inhaled.
They are excreted through kidneys or
expired through the lungs.
For labor therapeutic grade oils in low
doses for massage or as an environmental

For labor therapeutic grade oils in low doses for

massage or as an environmental fragrance is
increasing in health care settings.

For labour , therapeutic grade oils such as

lavender or jasmine can promote relaxation
and perception of pain
peppermint oil may be effective in
decreasing nausea and vomiting
To use aromatherapy effectively , nurses
should have basic understanding of the


Controlled, rhythmic breathing

has been found to be relaxing by
women dealing with labour pain.
If women takes deep breathing it
can help to calm and distract from
the pain.

It can also help to

diminish the natural
instinct to hold the

Different positions during labour have
different ways of helping to relax and be
more comfortable.
To avoid pain many nurses and doctors
suggest mothers adopt
semi-reclining position or
lie on their side.

A walk, squatting
position or fetal position
can help case pain. What
ever position in which
woman find comfortable
can be good for her.

Sometimes a simple heating
pad may work wonders to
relieve the pain felt while
giving birth.
Pads are available in different
size and shapes suitable for
almost all women and are easy

If not available heat

therapy can be done
by using warm water
bag or even a warm
pack or soak

Another ancient practice is which

pressure in applied to specific body parts,

specifically the soles of the other parts of
body. During labour, a reflexologist can
help woman cope with pain and speed the
process of childbirth by pressure and
stoking specific ankle points, which are
said to stimulate the pituitary glands to
release pain killing hormones. Reflexology
should only be performed by an
experienced practitioner.

In this a woman in pain
can take her mind off of the
contractions and labour by
reading a book, listening to
music, walking, talking to a
friend or watching TV. These
activities are simple to do
and provide distraction from