Counter pressure is a great skill to master, whether you are planning to labor at home or if your plan is to give birth without pain medication. It is a tool for everyone’s toolbox. In this post and in the video below, I will break down this pain management technique and include some important tips to make the most out of it.

4 Ways to Provide Counter Pressure

Method 1: Flat Hand

Our first method is the one that I described in the counter pressure video that was done for the big wheel of birth series. It is called the one hand or the flat counter pressure. For the one hand or the flat counter pressure, you put your flat hand kind of like a blade right up against the lower back. The exact place is usually more like the spot where the back ends and the butt begins. This method allows you to provide gentle pressure during a contraction which likely will feel good. This method is really easy to do and the person providing the counter pressure won’t fatigue easily.

Method 2: Two Hands

The second way to use counter pressure and labor is to use two hands. With the two hand technique, you have the flexibility of covering more of the hip area and/or the top of the pelvis. For this method, you put the palms of your hands on the lower back and around the sides of the hips. This method allow for a little more targeted pressure. You can also put your thumbs out to give more target pressure to the top of the hip.

Method 3: Fist

The third technique for counter pressure is when you use your fist. For this technique you ball up your fingers into a fist and use it to provide counter pressure right on the back. This technique is often effective when people what pressure right at the top of their pelvis. Again, it’s going to be that lower back top of the butt. Now, as you can see with this, we can provide a lot of targeted pressure. So if they are experiencing a lot of pain in their back, this might really be a great one to go to. So in this picture, you can see that a doula is providing counter pressure with her fists. And while mom is sitting on the ball and she has the support of her partner in front of her, that is a great technique too, if you’re using a doula.

Method 4: Ball

The fourth and final technique of providing counter pressure, is where we use a tool and that tool is a ball. You can use a variety of balls, but my favorite is the lacrosse ball that is included in this pack (Amazon link). Some people use a tennis ball as well. For this technique you hold the ball in the palm of your hand and then push down in the spot where counter pressure is desired. When the contraction starts, you press with the ball and give counter pressure. The ball is the easiest way to provide targeted pressure. The other exciting thing about the ball is that you can use it by yourself so you can put the ball up against your lower back and lean on it. 

Next Step: Practice

The best way for these techniques to be a valuable tool in your tool box is to practice. With a few minutes of practice several times prior to labor, both the pregnant person and the support person will be familiar with this technique. And with this practice it means that you will be more likely to use this tool and receive the benefit from it.