Complementary and alternative therapies can help to support you during pregnancy, labour and birth.

In addition to providing normal maternity care, our maternity team use a range of complementary or alternative therapies to support women in labour or during their pregnancy. The therapies we have selected are those with good scientific evidence that they are beneficial and can also be used safely for pregnancy and / or childbirth. For each therapy listed there is an information leaflet provided on the maternity website explaining what each treatment involves, how effective it might be and benefits and safety concerns (if any).

Please note that midwives may only give treatments if they have undertaken appropriate training and this means that not all the therapies will be available at all times. We hope in time that this will improve as more midwives are trained.


Aromatherapy and massage have been found to be beneficial in pregnancy for general relaxation, relief of stress, anxiety and tension and to ease conditions such as constipation and headache. It can also help labour to progress and improves women’s satisfaction with their birth experience, however it is important to remember that some oils may not be suitable for use in pregnancy or in the presence of certain medical conditions.

Aromatherapy is available in both Birth Centres and also within the Antenatal and Delivery Suite areas at Tunbridge Wells hospital. Download and read our aromotherapy leaflet

Moxibustion for babies in the breech position after 34 weeks

Most babies are in the head down position by 34 weeks of pregnancy. Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine that may help your baby to turn if it is in the breech (bottom first) position. Read our leaflet for more information.


Acupuncture is treatment that involves inserting fine needles into the body and is widely used by midwives in other European countries including Germany and Sweden, especially for pain relief in labour. It has also been found to shorten labour and reduce the need for forceps or ventouse to deliver the baby. Only a small number of midwives have been trained so far, however we are hoping to do more training and research early 2017. Please read our leaflet for further information

Sterile water injections for severe backache in labour

Some women experience severe back pain in labour which is continuous whereas contraction pains are intermittent. This is usually related to the position of your baby.

We offer sterile water injections, which has been found to have a very good effect on this particular back pain. This is a safe, quick and simple procedure carried out by midwives trained in using this method.

You will feel a sharp stinging sensation, like a wasp sting, for about 30 seconds after which your back pain and the stinging should significantly improve. This method does not restrict your choice of any other form of pain relief.


Hypnobirthing is an antenatal training program for pregnant women using relaxation, breathing and hypnosis which helps keep the birthing process natural and gentle. It enables women and their partners to be calm, confident and in control during childbirth. Learning how to be free of fear and tension means that women can embrace the birthing process and place trust in their bodies to birth easily and effectively.

Preparation for birth

Perineal massage is a way of preparing your perineum to stretch more easily during childbirth. Research has shown that massaging your perineum from approximately 34 weeks into your pregnancy reduces the chance of that you might damage this area during birth (with a tear or bruising). This is particularly beneficial if you are having your first baby. Please download our leaflet for more information.