Birth Support Series: Physical Support

November 3, 2022
by Alex Barr
Birth Support Series: Physical Support

Physical Support

Why would I need physical support during labor?

In this series of blog posts we are talking about the different types of support a birth doula can provide: emotional support, physical support, informational support, and advocacy.

Doulas aren’t medical providers so what physical support could they provide?

In the days before epidurals, analgesics, and other medical pain management how did people survive the pain of birth? Or what happens if you get an epidural and it fails? Or what happens between the time you start labor and the time you’re able to get an epidural? 

The answer: physical support! 

Some examples of physical support

Massage: can help relax tension in body

Counter-pressure: can help especially when applied to the lower back or sacrum

Position changes: changing position can be extremely helpful in getting the baby to move down and out through the pelvis. This can also allow you to get into positions that are more comfortable and ease pressure (laboring on your back can be extremely uncomfortable)

Acupressure (my favorite)  

Water therapy (shower or tub)

Warm or cold therapy

TENS units 

Some less talked about examples of physical support

Setting the environment: adjusting lights, music, smells, etc to help you find calm and peace during birth

Nourishment: making sure the birther is eating, drinking, using the restroom

Laughter: sometimes a laugh is the best way to release tension in the body

Hand holding: a hand to hold is endlessly helpful during painful contractions 

Breathing exercises

These are just a few examples, I guarantee every doula you meet will have some tricks up their sleeve!

But this is support you can also get from your partner(s), friends, or nurses if they're available!