Interventions during labour and childbirth are on the rise in most developed countries. In addition, use of an epidural block, while providing pain relief, has been identified as a contributing factor to assisted births, including caesarean section.
A randomised controlled trial recently published in the BMJ Open evaluated the effectiveness of a birth preparation course, covering a range of self-administered complementary medicine techniques (in addition to standard medical care), in support of natural birth for first-time mothers.
The trial involved 176 women with low-risk pregnancies. Those in the intervention group attended a two-day course with a birth partner and were taught support techniques that could be self-administered during pregnancy and childbirth, alongside standard care: visualisation, breathing, massage and yoga, to enhance relaxation; yoga and acupressure to facilitate labour progression; and breathing, acupressure and visualisation to aid pain relief. Those in the control group received standard care alone.
Different measures were completed and the results showed a significant reduction in epidural use and caesarean section in the intervention group compared to the control group.
- To read the full article, visit http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/7/e010691.full
- Levett KM, Smith CA, Bensoussan A, et al (2016). Complementary therapies for labour and birth study: a randomised controlled trial of antenatal integrative medicine for pain management in labour, BMJ Open 2016;6:e010691. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010691