Open access study on self-help techniques in support of natural childbirth

Interventions during labour and childbirth are on the rise in most developed countries[1]. 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[1] 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.

  1. 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

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