By Andrea Eastman, MA, CCE, IBCLC
From Gentle Birth Alternatives

I always give my couples a copy of the book Active Birth by Janet Balaskas. In class, we thoroughly discuss the book, and take lots of time to practice relaxation while still remaining upright and active. I pile the center of the room with pillows and bean bag chairs, and invite them to try the different positions that we have discussed. Then I put on my favorite relaxation tape, "Canyon Trilogy" by R. Carlos Nakai, which is beautiful Native American flute music.

As the ladies assume their positions, either hands and knees, leaning into their partner's laps; sitting backward on a chair, and draped over the back; or draped over a bean bag chair; I give their partners tennis balls to use to give wonderful lower back massages. Tennis balls are wonderful, and can really save your hands!

We just talk quietly about what feels good and what does not. We change positions, and I encourage them to try something that they might not normally choose - so that they are used to this position as well, just in case it is the only one that works when they are in hard labor.

Sometimes I play different types of music, and we discuss the importance of choosing a wide variety. I encourage them to choose quiet, soothing music to help them relax. And I tell them to also choose loud, up-beat music, to help them if their labor needs picked-up later. Some women find that belly-dancing to loud rock music is what feels best to them when they are in labor - rather than the beautiful "White Winds" by Andreas Vollenweider.

I also encourage the women to buy or borrow personal tape/CD players that they can use with headphones. I think that this helps them to concentrate on the music, and tune out the other noises and focus inward on their labor.

I encourage the women to create a binder full of relaxation exercises, tips for drug-free pain relief, etc. This should be all of the things that they think might help them when they are in labor. This way, when hard labor hits, and the woman does not feel like talking, her words will be there to remind her partner of what she wants.

As you create your own binder, I recommend that you read the following books:

  • Active Birth: The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally (Non)

  • Active Birth - by Janet Balaskas (1983)

  • Active Birth: The New Approach To Giving Birth Naturally - by Janet Balaskas (Revised Edition 1992)

  • New Active Birth: A Concise Guide to Natural Childbirth

  • The Active Birth Partners Handbook-- by Janet Balaskas (1985)


  • An Easier Childbirth: A Mother's Guide for Birthing Normally-- by Gayle Peterson

  • Easing Labor Pain: The Complete Guide to a More Comfortable & Rewarding Birth - by Adrienne B. Lieberman (Revised Edition 1992)

  • Easing Labor Pain - by Adrienne B. Lieberman (Revised Edition 1992)

  • The Birth Partner- by Penny Simkin (2nd Edition, Paperback, 2001)

  • The Birth Partner- by Penny Simkin (2nd Edition, Hardcover, 2001)

  • The Birth Partner: Everything You Need To Know To Help A Woman Through Childbirth - by Penny Simkin (1st Edition, Paperback, 1989)

  • The Birth Partner: Everything You Need To Know To Help A Woman Through Childbirth - by Penny Simkin (1st Edition, Hardcover, 1989)

  • Mind Over Labor - by Carl Jones (Reprint Edition, Paperback, 1988)

  • Mind Over Labor - by Carl Jones (Reprint Edition, Hardcover, 1988)

  • Visualizations for an Easier Childbirth - by Carl Jones (1988)

  • Simkin's Ratings of Comfort Measures for Childbirth by Penny Simkin

  • Mother Massage: A Handbook for Relieving The Discomforts of Pregnancy - by Elaine Stillerman (Reprint Edition, Paperback, 1994)

  • Mother Massage - by Elaine Stillerman (Reprint Edition, Paperback, 1992)

  • And be sure to check out Labor Support Techniques, as well as information at

    Copyright 2002 by Andrea Eastman, MA, CCE, IBCLC

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