1. Birth pool- A deep tub of water that the labouring mother can get in.
Women are able to either just labour in the birth pool, or even stay in for the birth itself. This method is supposedly available in the hospital, though they seem less open to using them and I think they are the blow-up style. In the Birth Centre, their use seems to be very encouraged and two of the four rooms have big fancy tubs like the one pictured above. (At least one of those rooms also has a twinkly starlight ceiling like the one we had at our reception venue!) If your home can handle a birth pool, they will deliver one to your residence is you are having a home birth. The water is kept at body temperature and it is supposed to be really relaxing to be submerged in the water.
I'm not into the idea of actually giving birth in the tub, but I'm all for labouring in it! I was joking (mostly) with a friend that I'll kick someone out of a room to get the fancy birth suite with the giant tub and sparkly ceiling. I think it will be really helpful to maintain my zen.
2. Massage- rubbing of the muscles by birth partner or midwife
Massage can be done with hands, tennis balls, and other implements. I even read somewhere about using a rolling pin or a frozen water bottle. I've heard that the helpfulness of massage varies through out labour- sometimes I might not want to be touched at all and others I might want to be practically pummelled.
I am slightly worried about Ross being able to keep up a level of pressure that I find helpful if I get to the "pummelling" stage, but I hear the midwives will step in and help with this as well. I anticipate this method being very helpful to me as I LOVE being rubbed. Ross is actually really good at finding pressure points and rubbing in little soothing ways.
3. TENS Machine- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation sends and electrical current into your back via wires and pads.
You can purchase a TENS machine from any number of places, including Boots and Amazon, and use it in any of the settings. They are supposed to be most helpful during the first stage of labour. They are adjustable to deliver different levels of current, depending on your desires.
I don't really have any desire to purchase one of these, mostly because they aren't supposed to be very helpful after the earlier stages. Frankly, I'm not overly concerned about earlier on and don't want to spend money on something that won't be useful when it gets really hard.
4. Aromatherapy- the use of essential oils/scents to calm the mother
Did you know that some NHS hospitals actually offer professional aromatherapy services to labouring women? Ours isn't one of them, so if we want aromatherapy it's up to us to provide it. I figure having some essential oils, such as lavender, jasmine, neroli, and rose, on hand can't hurt. (Bonus- Lavender is also supposed to be great for healing scar tissue... so it could come in handy after the birth)
5. Hypnobirthing- The use of hypnosis during childbirth.
This method can be used in any setting by a mother who has done her homework. Hypnobirthing should be practised in the final week of pregnancy. There are various methods and schools of hypnobirthing and parents can educate themselves either through the use of books with CDs or by taking workshops. The theory of hynobirthing seems to be of helping the mom zone out of (or perhaps into) her body during labor. By getting your self-hypnosis on in a relaxed state, the anxiety and pain of labour are supposed to be made much more manageable. There's a heavy focus on breathing and visualization.
I'm totally intrigued by this and have heard great things. Our midwives said mothers who have used this method seem to have really nice labours. Ross and I have ordered our book and CD, so I'll let you know how it goes!
There are a handful of other techniques such as high-pressure water flow (like under a shower), heat packs, acupuncture, and changing positions (I'll probably cover this after I've been to the Active Birthing class).
What non-medical interventions did you find helpful when giving birth?
Do you plan to go all wacky and hippy when you have a baby, like I apparently am?