Counter pressure is a great comfort-giving technique for birth partners to learn.
The evidence supports the view that counter pressure and massage are effective non pharmacological measures in helping to reduce labour pain. It’s great at helping to relieve any back pain and pressure felt during uterine surges and as the baby moves down in the pelvis. It can be a great coping and support tool for the birthing mum. Lessening the sensation of pain in that moment, promoting the flow of natural pain relieving endorphins, reducing the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin, helping her to stay focused. Touch can convey pain reducing messages. A hand placed on a painful spot communicates caring. If she loved it, do it again. Sometimes as the baby’s head moves down, the perfect spot for counter pressure changes and may move down, so keep communicating with your partner.
Counter pressure is firm pressure applied to the lower back or the bony sacral part of the pelvis or pressure on the side of each hip using both hands. It can be used in conjunction with heat using hot water bottles, hot moist compresses over the lower back.
Use the fleshy heel part of your of your hand, it provides an even, steady pressure. You canuse both hands one on top of the other to provide even more pressure to one spot. Some women like the pressure to be steady and unmoving. Some women like to feel some movement, so see what she likes better. Remember to communicate.
Any position that is comfortable for her and where you have access to her back is a good place. Lots of different positions can be used and you need to be willing to follow your partner as she moves from one position to another as her needs change. On hands and knees on the floor or bed or couch, leaning over or sitting on a birth ball, sitting on a toilet, leaning over a kitchen counter, leaning against a hospital corridor wall on the way to the birthing room, in the shower, bath or pool.
Remember to nurture yourself regularly too as supporting birth, bending over applying counter pressure for longer periods at a time can be straining on your back and energies too. Check in with yourself every hour. Do you need food or a snack or a drink? Do you need to have a stretch?
There is no need to wait until labour to try counter pressure. It can provide relief during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester and give a feeling of togetherness as you prepare for birthing.