Making your birth experience positive and as comfortable as possible

There are a number of different ways that you can help yourself in active labour to better manage the strength of feeling with your contractions.  Click here for more information on analgesia options during birth.

Remaining mobile and active and changing position in response to your body’s guidance

We can support you to use different positions in labour which may take some pressure off of different points in your body and this will help you to feel more comfortable.

Massage and aromatherapy

You may wish to use massage, particularly on your hands or lower back.  Your partner can support with this or your midwife.  Some women will find this very uncomfortable or distracting so we are happy to be told your preference.

Aromatherapy can help you to relax and promote your natural pain relief hormones similarly to massage.  We do not offer aromatherapy on our unit but welcome you to bring your own in the home and birthing unit environment.  These should never be added to a birth pool and you should ensure any oils are washed off of your body before immersing in water.

Birth pools and hydrotherapy

Water can help you to take pressure off of tired muscles, as well as promote a calm and comforting environment for both you and your baby.  You may prefer to have a shower with pressure on certain points, or fully immerse in a bath or birth pool.  We will advise you on the best time to use a birth pool as this can occasionally relax you so much your contractions reduce if in early labour.

We have four birth pools available for use at East Surrey Hospital and will support you to rent or buy one when having a homebirth.


We are more and more skilled at recognising the powerful connection of our mind and body, particularly in the experience of pain.  With some antenatal training and support from your birth partner and midwife in labour you can learn to reduce pain in labour through simple relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing and meditation.


A TENS machine uses the gate control theory of pain relief by sending mild electric current to your lower back to distract you from the pain of labour.  They are particurlarly beneficial in the early stages of your labour.  We do not offer these at SASH but you can hire these from various sources.

We can also offer you medication. Please see Associate of Anaesthetics for further information available in multiple languages for information on Entonox/ gas and air, epidurals and spinals.

International translations 

Pain relief in labour: How do the options compare?

Risks of Regional Anaesthesia (Epidurals & Spinals) and General Anaesthesia Explained

We can also offer you medication in the form of Entonox (gas & air), oral analgesia (paracetamol/ codeine) in all care settings including the home, or regional anaesthesia (Epidurals and Spinals) or general Anaestheisa on our delivery suite only.  More information on each of these medications can be found on the following trusted website and are available in many languages and formats to help you make choices: