Comfort Measures



What are examples of comfort measures used for labor pain relief?


What are the effects of comfort measures on labor pain?

What is needed to use comfort measures?

What are the advangates of comfort measures?

What are the drawbacks of comfort measures?



What are examples of comfort measures used for labor pain relief?

Comfort measures for labor pain relief include:
  • creating a calm environment: dim lights, peaceful surroundings, privacy, warmth
  • increasing physical comfort: walking, pelvic rocking, positioning pillows for comfort, slow dancing with partner, sitting and swaying on birth ball (a large physiotherapy ball), lifting up the abdomen, rocking in a rocking chair
  • using touch: massage, stroking, cuddling, counter pressure against the lower back, acupressure
  • applying heat: deep tub bath, shower, heating pad on groin or back, heated blanket
  • applying cold: ice pack on lower back, cool cloth to wipe face
  • using aromatherapy: "essential" oils, scented objects.

What are the effects of comfort measures on labor pain?

As the name suggests, comfort measures increase comfort. They may ease labor pain directly or indirectly by soothing and relaxing you.

What is needed to use comfort measures?

Comfort measures may require nothing more than adjusting the lighting or a pair of willing hands to rub your back. They may also be as elaborate as a temperature-controlled tub big enough to move around in and deep enough to immerse you to your shoulders when seated. Many items are inexpensive and can easily be brought with you such as massage oil, massage tools, or frozen gel packs. Others can be improvised on site such as making a cold pack by putting ice chips in an exam glove and tying it off.

One of the major advantages in hiring a doula to provide labor support is that she knows many comfort measures. Most doulas bring comfort-related items with them to the birth.

What are the advantages of comfort measures?

Comfort measures:
  • offer lots of possibilities for relieving labor pain and can be combined with each other and with other types of techniques to suit every need
  • have short or no lag time between deciding to use one and doing so (with the possible exception of deep tub baths)
  • do not interfere with labor progress and in some cases can enhance progress or the effectiveness of pushing
  • promote a sense of accomplishment and capability, which can be more critical to a satisfying childbirth experience than pain relief in and of itself
  • have no effect on your state of consciousness
  • may enable you to avoid labor pain medications and their possible adverse effects
  • may enable you to delay or limit the use of medications and limit adverse effects
  • unlike pain medications, can be discontinued immediately if they don't help or in the unlikely event that they cause a problem.

What are the drawbacks of comfort measures?

Comfort measures:
  • comfort measures may not provide adequate labor pain relief
  • comfort measures may require equipment
  • deep tub baths may slow labor if taken too early in labor
  • deep tub baths may cause maternal fever if the water temperature exceeds body temperature.

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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 11/16/2012