I have the privilege of being a certified Bodywork for the Childbearing Year™ therapist. I provide prenatal and postpartum massage specialization and labor support services. The exciting moment between pre- and post-, the moment of BIRTH, is one I am lucky enough to have shared with several women and their families as a Labor Support Specialist.
Labor Support begins with a meeting by the 30th week of pregnancy to discuss your birth plan and complete required paperwork. Labor Support can be whatever you need including advocacy for your birth plan, silence, vocalizations, movement, massage, and encouragement, and is not a “coach” unless asked to fill this role. The mother’s preferences are honored at all times and may vary through the stages of labor.
The goal and intent is to support the mother with careful listening and supportive actions, providing a safe and comforting place for her to deliver her baby with the least effort possible and the most joy imaginable!
“My first labor included 3 hours of pushing. It’s exhausting to start motherhood off after that. EVERY muscle is sore, including facial muscles! Gwen was my support for my second labor and the whole active labor took less time than the pushing from my first labor! After massaging some trigger spots, my labor went quickly, and before I knew it my little one-push wonder was born! I didn’t have time to get sore facial muscles or even be that tired. I had more energy and strength. I totally credit Gwen and her massage for my labor being a relative breeze, and for my recovery being smooth.” -C.S.
Specific massage techniques applied to the laboring mother have many proven benefits. Perinatal (“around birth”) massage techniques open the birth canal, reduce the discomfort associated with back labor, increase the strength of contractions, help control the mother’s blood pressure and heart rate, relieve cramps or abdominal discomfort, reduce the overall rate of medical interventions, and reduce anxiety and stress. All of this is done externally on the back, shoulders, hips, gluteals, hands, legs, and feet. Warm and cold can be applied to aid relaxation. Visualization techniques help soothe the mind and progress labor more quickly and less painfully.
Labor support may include pressure point activation. Pressure points may be used during labor to calm stomach upset, reduce pain, assist in the release of birth hormones that control dilation and increase the productivity of contractions, calm leg spasms, relieve autonomic shaking or tremors, and relieve sensations of internal pressure. Pressure point activation can drastically improve birth outcomes- for example, Spleen 6 applied during each contraction for 30 minutes has been shown to reduce the overall rate of C-section from 22.4% in a control group to 12.8% in the treated group. Rarely, some hospitals prohibit non-employee labor support providers from entering the surgical suite in the event of a planned or emergency C-section. In this event, labor support will be provided for as long as possible pre-surgery and will resume as quickly as possible post-surgically, as requested by the mother.
Affects of Dedicated Labor Support: By The Numbers
Kennell and Klaus Labor Study (May 1991, JAMA)
- Cesarean Section: 18% Control Group – 8% Labor Support
- Epidural: 55.3% Control Group – 7.8% Labor Support
- Forceps: 26.3% Control Group – 8.2% Labor Support
Meta Analysis of 6 Studies
- C-Section down 50%
- Oxytocin down 40%
- Pain Medication down 30%
- Epidural Requests down 60%
- Forceps down 40%
- Length of labor shortened 60%
Other Studied Benefits
- Increased infant APGAR scores
- Reduced infant jaundice and fever
- Higher satisfaction with birth experience
- Less experience of pain in labor
- Six weeks postpartum: Better relationships with partners, Higher rates of breastfeeding, Fewer infant illnesses
The Licensed Massage Therapist’s role while providing Labor Support does NOT include monitoring labor or assisting in the delivery of the baby. This is the role of a trained and qualifies physician, midwife, or labor/delivery nurse. Massage therapists can not, by definition, provide any sort of medical advice. No information imparted from LMT to client should be construed as medical advice.
If you are currently pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant soon and wish to have a Labor Support Specialist present for your labor and delivery, and if you know someone who could benefit from this service, please give McGlaun Massage Therapy a call at 706-392-4174.
Yours in Health,
-Gwen McGlaun, LMT, NCTMB, BCY
This information is provided to educate and does NOT take the place of qualified medical advice. This information should not be used to self-diagnose or as a substitution for medical diagnosis. Massage Therapists can not diagnose, give medical advice, or prescribe treatment of any kind. Use this information at your own risk and with common sense as a supplement to qualified professional care, not in place of it.
McGlaun Massage Therapy, 2012. All rights reserved.