Women who wish to avoid drugs during labour and delivery have various options for managing the pain that accompanies childbirth. Some women try hypnotism while others climb into a whirlpool bath. But they can also explore a massage technique called the Bonapace Method, which was developed in 1989 by Quebecer Julie Bonapace.
The method uses massage on pressure points (sensitive areas in the body) including the sacrum, hand and calf. The idea is that the intense, even painful pressure-point massage distracts the brain from the pain of contractions.
Two years ago, Marie-Pier Descart and her partner Vincent Thivierge used the method during the birth of their daughter Coralie. “I wanted the birth to be as simple and natural as possible,” Descart says.
After their prenatal yoga teacher showed the couple some of the techniques, they decided to do the full course. “Once you know where the pressure points are, it’s very simple,” Descart says.
In fact, she had a very smooth, drug-free delivery. The couple also used the method during the birth of baby number two, Charles-Olivier, who they welcomed into the world in May.
As Descart discovered, the Bonapace method can be a great way to involve fathers in the labour and delivery process. He is the one (in most cases) who is doing the massage, although a doula, nurse, friend or family member can as well. “My boyfriend was more excited about the day I gave birth than other men because he was such a big part of it,” Descart says.
The Bonapace Method is usually taught as an eight-hour course, with couples beginning the training around week 26 of pregnancy. In Montreal, parents can take the classes (spread over four weeks) at Hôpital St. Luc.
For more information and a list of other trainers, go to www.bonapace.com.