Most pregnant women want to know about all the things they can do to get through contraction pain during labour.
There are plenty of options for comfort during labour; often, it’s about what feels right at the time.
When I teach birth preparation classes, I remind mamas-to-be they have all the tools they need with them at all times.
For any birthing woman, these are great starting points:
- Understand how labour unfolds when it is undisturbed
- Release fear and tension to help your amazing uterus do its job
- Work with your body, not against it
- Take each contraction at a time.
But there are times when labour is long, or baby is still rotating into a good position for birth. There might be disturbances in her environment, or perhaps mama just needs something extra to get her through a contraction.
Double Hip Squeeze – What Is It And How Is It Used?
Midwives and doulas have some pretty cool tricks up their sleeves. One of them is the double hip squeeze.
What Is The Double Hip Squeeze?
Basically the double hip squeeze is a type of pressure massage.
During labour, your pelvis is being stretched by the pressure of your baby’s head as it moves down (descends).
This stretching is normal and happens thanks to relaxin, a hormone that makes your ligaments looser. Your pelvis is not a completely locked circle of bone. There is a joint between the two halves of your pelvis and the space between is connected by ligaments.
As the baby descends and stretches the pelvis, there can be intense pressure on the sacrum. This is a triangular bone in the lower back, situated between the two hip bones of the pelvis and it is not stretchy!
The double hip squeeze relieves the pressure of the stretching and causes the pelvis to flare out slightly. This provides relief for the mother and allows the baby a little extra wriggle room to move down.
It can help relieve the back pain you might experience when baby is in the posterior position (facing forwards with baby’s back to your back).
The extra room can help to encourage a baby in posterior position to turn. Babies who aren’t in an optimal position for birth – for example, when the head is not tucked in properly – can also use the extra space to reposition.
How Is A Double Hip Squeeze Performed?
The easiest way to do the double hip squeeze is if the birthing woman is leaning forward, in whatever position feels most comfortable for her. She can be standing, sitting, on hands and knees, or leaning over a ball or her partner’s knees.
If you are the person doing the squeeze, you place your hands onto the mama’s hip bones. To find the proper placement, one hand is placed on each bone and the thumbs are pointed toward the spine forming a ‘W’.
Then you push the hipbones in and up towards mama’s body and towards her shoulders. It can help to imagine you are trying to press on the bones and slide them up her back toward her shoulders.
The amount of pressure and best positioning should be guided by how the birthing woman responds. Ask her to give you simple directions: ‘more’ or ‘less’ for pressure, and ‘up’, ‘down’ or ‘across’ for where to apply the pressure.
Does The Double Hip Squeeze Hurt?
Most women find the sensation of the double hip squeeze to be a huge relief. The counterpressure can reduce the intensity they are feeling internally from the baby’s head or from malpositioning.
Some women are unable to bear being touched in the sacral area. It’s quite common. If you feel that way, you will probably make your support person very aware of it. Don’t push through if you don’t enjoy the sensation, or don’t feel any relief.
It might seem daunting for your partner to envisage pressing on your hips so intensely, especially if the harder he squeezes, the more relief you feel! It can help to have two people alternating the squeeze. It is quite physical and can wear out one person.