How to give a laboring mother the best massage of her life

One of the most important healing techniques off all is touch.

When a woman is in labor, particular kinds of massage feels better than others. Let’s go over the different movements you can make with your hands that will feel delicious for your laboring partner.


Reason why you should massage her while she’s in labor

Your touch is a simple, free, and beneficial gift you can give and you don’t need specially trained muscles to be good at it. Follow your intuition. It’s not therapy, it’s a deep communicative art between the two of you. Touch communicates love and can actually help you better understand each other.

Tip: Touch lowers stress hormones. 

Nothing lowers tension like human touch. It is a basic human need. It’s more than a luxurious sensual experience. All mammals, in fact, need nurturing touch. It’s a tool to  maintain health and well-being. Even more so in the throws of labor when she’ll appreciate the rush of endorphin to help her feel happiness, less pain, improving her nervous system, and allow her to relax.

Okay, so now you know why. Now let’s put those hands to work!

Practice massaging your partner during pregnancy

Begin when you’re both ready. Take a few deep breaths with each other. Make sure she is comfortable. Begin by warming the aromatherapy massage oil in your hands.

Aromatherapy massage oil

Using aromatherapy massage as a way to cope with the pains of labor is a great tool to have available for the mother. Even if she wants the epidural before she gets out of the car, aromatherapy is still a highly beneficial coping mechanism. Especially if she wants a natural childbirth, essential oils will prove invaluable. Aromatherapy doesn’t take the pain of childbirth away, but a laboring woman who is able to relax can deal with it better.

Use essential oils she’s familiar with

She’ll already know what to expect from them and she’ll have a conditioned response to the scent. An unfamiliar scent will likely still help with relaxation during a massage, though, so keep it as an option for as long as she enjoys the aroma. Hopefully the conditioned response is a good one, though.

For example, rose oil has a regulating, toning, and cleaning effect on the uterus. Very feminine oil and useful during labor, but the scent *might* remind her of her mother. Is that a good reminder for her to have during labor? ha! Just kidding. But seriously, some people hate the smell of particular oils.

How do you know if she likes a particular scent? Let me answer this extremely easy answer I just set up for myself:

Have her sniff the bottle of oil and watch her reaction. 

I’m sure you already know this, but I feel inclined to remind you. Smells trigger both psychological and physiological responses in our bodies. So, if there’s a particular essential oil you want to use during labor, it would be a good idea to test her reaction to the scent. Smells effect our memory, emotions, hormones, sexual feelings, and heart rate. This is especially true during labor, when the heart rate and respiration are easily affected by fear and anxiety.

Use essential oils that come from flowers, such as rose, neroli (from orange blossom), jasmine, and lavender. 

These smells are aromatic and helpful during labor. Hopefully she’ll like at least one of those smells, but honestly, if all else fails, just use a bottle of lotion in her bathroom for massages. It’s most important that she’s relaxed.

Wash hands, clip fingernails, warm oil with hands. 

Hand massage

Sweeps and circles on palms and wrists

Hold the mother’s hand so her palm is up. Your fingers support her hand while the thumbs press into the palm making little, big, and sweeping circles. Lube up your knuckles and make more circles on the palm.

Foot massage


Relax the foot by spreading it from the center out to the sides. Prop the mother up with a pillow palace so she’s in a reclined seated position. Grab one foot with both hands, thumbs on top, fingers meeting in the center of the sole of her foot. Spread the foot by pulling fingers to outside edge of foot.

Massaging hands and feet are similar, so feel free to use both techniques on each body part. 

Learn back and hip massages at the couple prenatal partner yoga class on Valentine’s Day!

We’re going to use aromatherapy massage oil specially handmade by Chelsey Bishop with plenty for you to take home!