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Five Comfort Measure Techniques

Direct contact between provider and laboring mother, in the form of support and comfort,

may be provided in simple, non-invasive ways:

Heat & Cold

Heat increases local skin temperature and circulation, reduces muscle spasm, and raises the pain

threshold which can help in labor. This may be applied as a hot, moist

towel or heating pad (or any other kind of hot pack) applied to the lower

abdomen, groin, thighs, lower back, shoulders, or perineum. Cold can be

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applied with cold compresses on the lower back, perineum, or anus (for

painful hemorrhoids) using an ice pack, gel pack, latex glove filled with ice, wet wash cloth, etc.

Cold is useful for musculoskeletal and joint pain, decreases muscle spasm, creates a numbing

effect, reduces swelling, and is cooling to the skin.


Hydrotherapy reduces muscle tension, pain, and anxiety

for many women. Immersion in water provides buoyancy

which reduces the effect of gravity on the woman. Women

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed may stand or sit on a stool in the shower or submerge in a

bath. The even distribution of hydrostatic pressure over the immersed portions of the womans

body bring pain relief and more rapid active labor progress.

Movement in labor may help resolve fetal malposition, enhance fetal descent by changing the

shape and size of the womens pelvic basin, reduce labor pain, and increase the womans active

participation and decrease her emotional distress, also contributing to fetal well-being.

Movement can include walking or stair climbing, pelvic rocking, lunging, slow dancing, etc.

Touch & Simple Massage

Touch conveys a kind, caring, and comforting message to the

laboring mother. Laboring mothers can like gentle,

comforting, or reassuring touch such as a pat on her back or

shoulder, rubbing a painful spot, holding her hand, stroking her

hair, scratching her back, etc. The mother will often let you

know whether she wants lighter touch or more pressure, during a contraction or in between, or

where she wants it. Massage can be short (1-3 minutes) and simple including shoulder massage,

crisscross over the lower back, hand massage, foot massage, etc.

Attention Focusing

Attention focusing diverts the mothers pain by focusing

on something else. This could be looking at a certain

picture or object, listening to a particular sound (voice,

music, etc.), feeling a touch (touch, massage, caress etc.),

or concentrating on a mantra or ritual.

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