Complementary therapies

A complementary therapy is one that is used in addition to, or instead of, conventional medicine. Many people choose to use them and find them helpful. Treatments are usually non-invasive and rarely cause the unpleasant or long-lasting side effects that can be associated with medication.

We have midwives who are trained to provide several complementary therapies.

Our main services include:

  • Complementary therapies to stimulate spontaneous labour: offered to women who have gone beyond their due date. During this treatment, a combination of reflex zone therapy and aromatherapy massage  will be used to stimulate spontaneous labour with the aim to avoid the need for a medical induction of labour.
  • Moxibustion: offered to woman whose baby is in the breech (bottom down) position at or after 34 weeks in pregnancy.  Moxibustion naturally encourages a baby to turn from the breech position to a cephalic (head-down) position.
  • Aromatherapy and acupuncture are also available to help with relaxation and to relieve pain during labour.

These treatments are free of charge. Speak to your midwife if you wish to find out more. 

Please note: we work within safe guidelines including our complementary therapy service. Some women will not be suitable for these treatments due to medical or pregnancy-related conditions and will be advised accordingly.

More information about complementary therapies

Here is some more information on complementary therapies that we offer in our maternity unit. You can also read more about complementary and alternative therapies here.


Aromatherapy involves the use of plant oils, usually in the form of scented essential oils, to enhance physical and mental wellbeing. Oils can either be used directly on the body (for example in the form of massage) or with an oil burner so that the scent is carried in the air.

Numerous oils may be beneficial during labour to relieve stress, encourage relaxation, act as a uterine tonic and stimulate circulation.

The oils we use are:

  • Clary Sage – for lifting spirits and reducing anxiety
  • Jasmine – which acts as a painkiller and antispasmodic
  • Lavender – to aid relaxation, promote calm and stimulate healing

If you have any questions or concerns about aromatherapy, please ask your doctor or midwife.


Acupuncture is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine in which fine needles are inserted at certain points in the body for therapeutic or preventative purposes. Although it is most often thought of as a complementary therapy, it is used in many pain clinics in the UK and in NHS general practice.

The use of acupuncture during labour has been shown to reduce the intensity of pain and limit the use of other types of pain relief, including epidurals. It is therefore particularly suitable for women who wish to avoid more invasive forms of pain relief.

Equally, women who receive acupuncture in labour appear to experience a shorter overall labour and reduced rate of instrumental delivery. Several of our midwives and doctors working in the maternity unit are trained to provide this service.

More information on acupuncture can be found here.