Complementary Therapies

Complementary therapies can be used in addition to, or as an alternative to, other forms of pain management, dependent on which therapy is used. Listed below are just a few for you to consider, but you will need to seek advice from a qualified practitioner who is registered with a governing organisation and arrange for him/her to be with you at your birth.

Some of our midwives are trained in aromatherapy so please ask. Advise your midwife if you intend to practice a complementary therapy during labour and that a practitioner will be with you.


Aromatherapy is available for home births, at Cossham Birth Centre, Mendip Birth Centre and Central Delivery Suite. Only midwives trained in aromatherapy can prescribe and mix the oils. If aromatherapy is suitable for you in labour and a midwife qualified is available, you will be able to request this treatment.

Midwives who have completed aromatherapy training are able to blend essential oils to help you cope with labour pain, sickness, or anxiety. The seven oils used are:

  • Bergamot
  • Clary sage
  • Jasmine
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Frankincense
  • Grapefruit

These oils can be blended for use in the bath, in a footbath, as a drop on the palm of the hand, or as a massage given by the midwife or your birth partner. Different combinations of oils to a maximum mixture of three can be used to suit different symptoms.

We can we offer you aromatherapy if:

  • you are healthy and have not experienced any pregnancy problems
  • a midwife with specific training is available
  • you give your informed consent.

We are unable to offer aromatherapy if:

  • you have any medical condition (consult therapist for advice)
  • any complication develops, or if you have medical treatment in labour.


Reflexology is a type of foot massage in which each part of the foot corresponds to a part of the body. May be used to start an overdue labour, reduce pain, regulate breathing and stimulate effective contractions.


Homeopathyemphasises the importance of treating people as individuals and of understanding the ‘whole’ person as opposed to only the area of discomfort.


Acupuncture is said to stimulate the Qi (energy channels of the body). This process involves the use of fine needles inserted into the skin at various points of your body. It can be used as a pain management option. Shiatsu (acupressure) is a form of ‘finger pressure’ instead of the use of needles, this too is said to relieve pain, start an overdue labour, stimulate contractions and revitalise you if you become tired.

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