3.1.5  Touch

Important! Do not massage the belly. It will not speed labour and can cause the placenta to separate too soon. (You already learned about premature separation of the placenta and late pregnancy bleeding in Study Session 21 of the Antenatal Care Module, Part 2. It can also happen too soon during labour.)

Labour can be more difficult when the woman is afraid or tense. Reassuring the woman that the pain she has is normal can help lessen that fear. Touch can help a woman in labour, but find out what kind of touch she wants. Here are some examples of touch that women often like:

  • A firm, still hand pressing on the lower back during contractions
  • Massage between contractions, especially on the feet or back
  • Hot or cold cloths on the lower back or belly (Figure 3.3). If the mother is sweating, a cool wet cloth on the forehead usually feels good.
A woman in labour has a warm wet cloth applied to her back to ease the pain whilst another has a gentle massage on the lower back.
Figure 3.3  A warm wet cloth or a gentle massage on the lower back can relieve labour pain.

3.1.4  Helping the mother to manage her contractions

3.1.6  Sounds