Last reviewed 01/2018

Psychological support, relaxation, breathing exercises:

  • careful explanation of what to expect will reduce fear of the unknown and reassure the woman that all is progressing normally
  • a well-informed partner may provide emotional support
  • this approach is particularly useful in well-motivated women with an uncomplicated labour
  • unlikely to provide enough help for the whole labour, particularly in primips
  • women who choose to use breathing and relaxation techniques in labour should be supported in their choice (1)
  • women who choose to use massage techniques in labour that have been taught to birth partners should be supported in their choice (1)

Hypnosis and acupuncture:

  • these techniques may be of value
  • NICE note that "..acupuncture, acupressure and hypnosis should not be provided, but women who wish to use these techniques should not be prevented from doing so.."

Transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TENS)

  • non-invasive, cheap, simple to use and safe
  • the theory is that electrical stimulation provides a distraction while simultaneously gating the pain impulses at the level of the spinal cord
  • probably more effective in the multip.
  • NICE note that "..transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) should not be offered to women in established labour " (1)


  1. NICE (September 2007).Intrapartum care.