In this section you will find useful information related to labour and pain.
Links for brochures and forms plus resources for Hospitals, Obstetricians, GP's & Midwifes.
- Pre loved Labour TENS machines to approved hospitals at discounted prices
Contact Heather for details
Forms, Documents, Information & Brochures
- Video Presentation for Midwives, Dr's, Nurses and health care professionals
- Video Presentation - Using the original Labour TENS Machine
- Labour TENS Hire postal order form
- Over due ? - Natural ways to induce labour
- Back pain in labour
- Prenatal yoga for backs
- Birth Plans
- Natural Birth Education Classes
- Pre and Post Natal Massage
- Hypnotherapy for childbirth
- Heather’s story
- TENS in labour research articles
- Melzak and Wall, Pain Mechanisms: A New Theory - original 1965 paper courtesy Science/AAAS
Natural ways to induce labour
If you are full term and in danger of being medically induced you may like to try some natural methods to trigger an overdue labour. Also refer to www.naturalbirth.net.au
- Nipple stimulation - twiddling the nipples for 15 minutes or more stimulates the release of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for uterine contractions.
- Sex - check with your midwife or Dr first. Semen is rich in prostaglandin which ripens the cervix. Midwives often use a prostin pessery containing prostaglandin to medically induce labour. Also if you're lucky enough to have an orgasm as well, this will often start labour spontaneously.
- Spicy curry - This is a purgative and will stimulate the digestive system. Have as hot a curry as you can stand.
- Eat dates - about 8 per day.
- See midwife for a sweep
- Evening primrose oil - use gel capsules, take 3 x daily orally.
- Blowing up balloons - builds up intra-abdominal pressure and can put more pressure on the cervix to move things along.
- Eat pineapple - There seems to be general agreement that pineapple and its bromelain components do have a fibrolytic action, perhaps helping to soften the connective tissue of the cervix.
- Exercise - walking, swimming, bouncing on a birthing ball, yoga, swimming and climbing stairs. Also curb walking, I know it sounds funny, but I've women who swear by it! Walk along a curb, one leg up on the curb and one in the gutter, then turn around and go the other way.
- Professional treatments as listed below.
Back pain in labour
Back pain seems to be an inevitable part of pregnancy. Is it something to be endured along with tiredness or are there ways to manage or prevent back pain?
Research has suggested that 50 to 80% of all pregnant women are reported to suffer back pain at some time during their pregnancy. This may not be surprising considering the huge changes which occur in a woman’s body. Weight gain, increase in fluid, postural shifts and hormones have all been blamed.
If you’ve had a previous injury, back problem or suffered back pain before you became pregnant you are more at risk of back problems when pregnant. If you do a lot of repetitive lifting or bending, either in your work or when caring for a toddler – this also puts you at a greater risk. Stress caused by physical or emotional problems can also exacerbate pain.
The two most common types of pregnancy related pain are lower back or posterior (back of) pelvis. Activities such as walking and running, rolling over in bed, bending forward, twisting, lifting and climbing stairs can all aggravate pain.
Remember preventing back problems is easier than trying to cure backache once it’s started. Pregnant women’s posture alters significantly as the weight of the baby increases, the mothers centre of gravity alters. Weight at the front tends to make women lean backwards, thrusting their shoulders back and stomach out thus creating an excessive curve in the lower back. This causes significant strain in the lumber spine which can lead to back pain.
Help yourself by:
- Taking short periods of rest combined with activity
- Strengthening your back and muscles with pre natal yoga, or swimming
- Correcting your posture
- Make your environment or workspace posture friendly
- Wear comfortable soft-soled shoes or insoles
- Sit with small cushion placed at the lower back
- Lie on your side with a cushion between the knees and ankles and the abdomen supported by a banana or pregnancy pillow
- Use ice or heat on the painful area
- Have a prenatal remedial massage
- Try a pregnancy support belt or sacroiliac belt
Hormonal changes during pregnancy cause the ligaments to soften and increase mobility in the joints. The pelvis naturally widens to enable the foetus to pass through the birth canal more easily. This can cause problems as the pelvis is particularly vulnerable to miss-alignment due to the increase in load, and softened ligaments. In conjunction with lengthening of the abdominal muscles, this results in increased joint mobility, pain and decreased stability. There are pregnancy back supports available which may provide an increase in joint stability and alleviate low back and posterior pelvic pain.
Most common pain relieving drugs are unsuitable during pregnancy, or have unwanted side effects.
Try some drug free methods of pain relief such as accupuncture or massage. Heather recommends “a combination of treatments such as massage, accupressure points and yoga to give a holistic approach to a complex problem”.
If back pain persists or you experience sciatica consult your Doctor. You may also like to consult a physiotherapist, chiropractor, Osteopath or acupuncturist for treatment if symptoms persist.
Prenatal yoga for backs
- Pelvic Tilts (for abdominal muscles): The pelvic tilt can be performed while lying on your back (if under 20 weeks), or standing against the wall (if over 20 weeks). Ensure your back is against the floor or wall with knees bent, feet resting on the floor. Place your hand in the small of your back, to find a space between your back and the floor or wall. Inhale and try to flatten the lower part of the spine against the floor, or wall. The buttocks should be relaxed in order to isolate the abdominal's. Exhale to release back to neutral spine.
- Cat pose (for spinal flexibility): Start on hands and knees with a neutral spine. As you breathe in tilt the tail bone towards the ceiling and open the front of your chest as you look up. On the exhale reverse this curve. Push the hands into the floor to arch your back upwards, tucking tailbone under. Keep moving the whole spine a fully as possible in both directions in time with your breath.
- Hamstring stretches: Stay on hands and knees. Inhale to extend your leg backwards so the toes touch the floor. Gently press your heel towards the ground and hold for a count of ten.
- Hip circles (for pelvis and lower back): Stay on hands and knees, or stand up to perform pelvic rotations. Circle your pelvis in all directions.
- Arm and Leg Raises (for back muscles and buttock): Kneel on your hands and knees with a straight spine. Lift your right arm forwards and left leg backwards to form a straight line with your spine. Pause in this position and breath. Ensure your pelvis is tucked under to stabilise the spine. Slowly release and lower your arm and leg. Alternate lifting the opposite arm and leg. If you have difficulty keeping your balance in this position, modify the exercise by performing only the leg or arm raises separately.
- Kegels (for pelvic floor muscles): To exercise the pelvic floor muscles, try to imagine you are stopping urinating mid flow. Pulling the muscles of the vaginal area up and inwards. You should not feel your buttocks, thighs, or abdominal's tightening as you do this.
- Frog pose (for back stretch) : Start on your hands and knees, with your knees wide apart and toes touching. Place your hands forward just a little in front of your head. Place a firm pillow under your buttocks to give support if needed. Sit back on your legs, buttocks to heels and stretch your arms forward to feel a stretch along the spine. Breathe and hold for a count of ten.
- Wall Squats I (for abdominal muscles, buttock muscles and thigh muscles): Stand with your head, shoulders, and back against a wall with your feet about 1 to 2 feet away from the wall. Press your lower back into the wall and squat as if you were going to sit down, with the knees approaching a 90-degree angle. Come back up slowly, keeping your back and buttocks in contact with the wall.
- Wall Squats II (for pelvic stability: stand against the wall as for previous pose. Take a firm pillow or block between your knees and squeeze. Do not hold your breath or clench your teeth. Hold for a count of ten. Take a strap or soft belt around your thighs, and secure it at hip width. Pull your knees apart so your thighs are bracing against the belt to prevent your legs moving wider than the hips. Breathe and hold for a count of ten.
- Seated twists (for lower back): Sit on a chair sideways. Inhale as you lengthen your spine. Exhale and turn to the side taking hold of the back of the chair. Breathe and hold for a count of ten. Repeat on other side.
What is a birth plan?
It is a written communication tool which describes your wishes for labour, birth and afterwards. It lets your midwife and Doctors understand the kind of birth you desire if all goes smoothly. It is a good idea to keep an open mind in case things don’t go to plan. Remember to seek advice from your midwife or doctor when thinking about your options and ask them what choices are available. The medical team are there to ensure you and your baby are safe – it is important to listen to their advice and follow their instructions if complications occur.
Before writing your plans go to antenatal classes, or read books about labour and birth to educate yourself on the process and find out your options. Talk to women who have had various kinds of births and ask them about their experiences, the pro’s and con’s. Discus the options with your care givers, partner or birth companion.
What to include in your plan
Place of birth / Home, hospital, birth centre.
Birth companion(s). Who you want with you, when and where. Consider a doula, or private midwife, or family and friends.
Consider whether or not to allow student midwives or doctors to be present. Whether you want photos or filming during labour.
Environment - Consider lights, music, furnishings, how long you will stay at home.
Options - Consider if you want to be able to move about freely, monitoring, vaginal examinations, enemas, shaving.
Pain management - Labour TENS, hypnobirthing, relaxation, mobility, breathing, bath /shower, birth pool, massage, homeopathics, heat packs, gas and air, pethidine, epidural.
Intervention - Consider hydration options if needed, monitoring options, types of induction and augmentation available, forceps or vauntuse, episiotomy, caesarean.
Consider environment and atmosphere. Choice of positions, squatting, kneeling, supporting legs or stirrups, where the baby is placed immediately afterwards.
Consider your choices about cutting the cord, bathing, placenta delivery – natural or oxytocin injection, vitamin K for baby.
Consider separation - where you would like your baby during the day and at night, any medications, feeding options breast or bottle.
When you would like to go home.
Special needs for you and baby
Please inform your caregivers of any special considerations such as diet, medications, disabilities, ethical or religious considerations.
Natural Birth Education Classes
If you are considering a Natural birth then natural birth education classes are essential for you and your birth partner. This class will help you feel more confident, more relaxed and in control of the labour and birth process. Natural birth education will empower you to make the right choices for you, and your baby. Heathers birth classes are packed full of practical information, exercises and tips for an active calm birth.
Natural birth education classes cover:
- Planning your birth
- Signs of labour - when to go into hospital
- Natural pain management for every stage of labour, using yoga, breathing techniques, visualisation, active birthing, and relaxation for a calm birth.
- Natural ways to induce labour
- Positions for an active birth
- Massage – teach your birth partner how to massage for labour
- Maternity TENS – natural pain relief for labour
- Using the mind to overcome, fear, pain and obstacles to a calm birth
- Emotional freedom technique for pain relief and a calm birth
Group classes and private lessons are available at the Lotus Centre on the Northern Beaches, or at your chosen location (this may incur travel fee if more than 10km). PH: 94002709 or visit www.healinglotus.com.au
The benefits of private lessons are:
- You can tailor make the teaching to your needs and condense the information into a shorter time
- You do not waste time on things you already know
- We choose a time and place to suit
- A confidential supportive environment
- The information is retained better
The class can be 1 .5 hours or more depending on how much information you require. The price is $249 for 90 mins, $299 2 hours, $399 3 hours. You will probably need between 1-2 hours. Please do not hesitate to contact me for further information on 02 8007 6380 or 0405 821880
Pre and post natal massage
What is prenatal massage?
Prenatal Massage is specially designed to support and nurture pregnant women and their changing bodies. Prenatal Massage will ease aches and pains, relax muscles, improve circulation, reduce swelling in hands and feet, and relieve fatigue.
How do you lie on the table?
Women lie on their back or front supported with pillows if during the early stages of pregnancy. When this becomes uncomfortable women lie semi reclined for face up work and on their side supported by pillows for deep relaxing massage.
How can prenatal massage help me?
Pregnancy causes changes your posture and centre of gravity. This puts a lot of stress on your back, neck, abdominal muscles, and shoulders. Pregnancy also relaxes your ligaments, so that your pelvic joints are less stable, and your pelvis may shift and forward. The extra weight you're carrying plus postural shifts often cause aching lower back, neck and shoulders. As trained prenatal massage therapist Heather knows where a pregnant woman's sore spots are likely to be. Prenatal massage treatment is also deeply relaxing and calms the body and mind. Acupressure massage can also help to induce labour when women are full term .
Benefits of Pregnancy Massage include:
- Relaxation and stress reduction.
- Improve sleep (insomnia).
- Relief from muscle cramps, spasms, and myofascial pain, especially in the lower back, neck, hips, and legs.
- Increase in blood and lymph circulation, which can reduce swelling.
- Reduces stress on weight-bearing joints.
- Improve digestion.
- Improves outcome of labour and eases labour pain.
- Enhances the pliability of skin and underlying tissues to reduce stretch marks and scar tissue.
- Stabilize hormones and providing support for the new mother with physical and emotional strains of pregnancy.
See website for more info
Hypnotherapy for childbirth
Hypnotherapy is widely used for childbirth to eliminate the Fear-Tension-Pain syndrome. Self hypnosis is easy to learn and everyone is capable of relaxing and hypnotising themselves. Birthing is a natural process that your body understands how to do. Unfortunately we have recently turned birthing into a medical procedure and women are now in fear, anticipating the worst.
The Fear-Tension-Pain cycle theory was discovered by Dr Dick-Read. He found that labour itself was not inherently painful. He believed the pain in labour was largely due to fear of labour prevalent in today’s culture. Stress or fear produces the fight or flight response obstructing the birth canal to stop labour progressing. Unlike wild animals we no longer need this safety mechanism as we rarely encounter a threat, so stress causes labour to become dysfunctional. As the stress and pain increase more stress hormones (catecholamine) are released which cycles back to increase her pain and fear.
The stress hormone catecholamine decreases blood flow to the uterus and placenta, reducing uterine contractions, and decreasing oxygen to the baby. According to the Fear-Tension-Pain theory of childbirth, the pain of labour can be lessened by stopping the cycle at any point. To stop the cycle at the fear point, experts recommend preparing for labour through self hypnosis or relaxation and breathing education, visualisation and emotional release work.
Hypnotherapy uses deep relaxation and the power of visualisation and suggestion to enhance your pregnancy and birth experience. Hypnosis is a natural state which uses the subconscious mind to overcome fear and pain. The subconscious is responsible for regulating all your bodily functions including your heart rate, hormone production as well as the emotions. Hypnosis can help you to deal with, and overcome fear and anxiety and to increase self confidence and trust in your body’s natural ability to birth.
The body reacts to reality and imagination in the same way, it cannot distinguish between the two. Hypnosis using guided visualisation gives you the opportunity to practice and experience your preferred birth over and over again in your mind. Now your body is familiar and comfortable with the rehearsed responses and so reacts accordingly during the actual birth. You remain relaxed, in control, and aware of the birth experience. You will flow easily through the uterine surges and sensations using deep relaxation, breathing and visualisations which tap into your bodies own pain killers (endorphins).
Hypnosis enables you to enjoy the experience in a calm and relaxed way leaving no room for tension and fear which are the main causes of pain.
Learn hypnosis for childbirth in Sydney by attending a group or private classes. It is recommended that you take a course of three sessions and practice with the free CD provided.
Why use Hypnosis?
- reduces the need for pain killers
- shortens labour
- reduces tiredness and exhaustion
- improves oxygen levels to mum and baby
- speeds recovery
- assists with the natural birth process
You will learn
- Self hypnosis
- relaxation and visualisation techniques
- Breathing techniques to assist labour
- How the mind affects the birth experience
- How to boost the body’s own pain killers
- Techniques to help bond with baby
- How to avoid medical induction
- How to avoid episiotomy or tearing
- How to support your partner in labour
With both my pregnancies I experience tremendous back pain resulting from sacroiliac joint miss-alignment. I tried everything as I couldn’t even walk by the last trimester. The best relief for me was a combination of TENS, massage, yoga and a maternity support belt.
I see pregnant mums in my yoga class also gaining strength and movement through these simple exercises.