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Women benefit from complementary therapies during childbirth

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: July 24, 2008

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WOMEN in Gloucestershire are going longer without epidurals

and labours are shorter thanks to a scheme involving

complementary therapies and massage during childbirth.

Around 26 per cent of the 6,000 mums who pass through

maternity wards at Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal

hospitals are now opting to try complementary therapies.

Trained staff are on hand to use oils and massage to aid

relaxation, provide a natural form of pain relief, speed up

labour and to ease nausea and headaches.

The options are first presented to women during pre-natal

discussions, then they can choose oils.

These include bergamot, which has antiseptic properties,

clary sage, which can help speed up labour, frankincense to

calm nervous tension and jasmine to reduce pain and


The oils are used in baths, via massage, droplets or by


The scheme started 12 months ago and its success has

surprised 130 midwives in the county who have been trained to

offer natural therapies.

Midwife Asha Dhany, a trained reflexologist and massage

therapist who has led the initiative, said: “Feedback has been

positive and it's working very well.

“Some women say it's just like going to a spa rather than

being in a clinical environment.

“We use some oils, such as jasmine and clary sage, to speed

up labour and others, like peppermint, to reduce temperature

and combat nausea. Bergamot is very relaxing and offers good

pain relief.

“It was quite simple to implement the massage and essential

oils and it makes the environment nice for women.”

Alexandra O'Connell, from Prestbury, benefited from the

therapies as she gave birth to Daisy-Ann, now two weeks


She said: “I used essential oils to help ease the pain of

the contractions and to help the whole process along.

“It was nice to be able to do something for myself and the

whole experience was very pleasant.”

Vicki Little, who also used the therapy during childbirth,

said: “It's great that women have so many options these days.

Any therapy that can help has to be welcomed.”

Asha is now planning to complete a research Masters degree

to see if she can confirm the anecdotal evidence.

She said: “There is currently no medical evidence to show

how much women are benefiting from the treatments, although

midwives are reporting that they have seen a growing number of

labours reducing in length and more women going longer without


“We do hope to do some research on this to see if we can

back up our anecdotal evidence with statistics.”

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