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How to Implement Complementary Therapies for Laboring Women

Zwelling, Elaine PhD, RN, LCCE, FACCE; Johnson, Kitti BSN, RN; Allen, Jonell MSN, CNS, RNC

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: November-December 2006 - Volume 31 - Issue 6 - p 364–370
Feature Article

Complementary therapies have been a part of nursing practice for centuries and are supported today as a part of nursing practice by many state boards of nursing. Some of these modalities can be used by nurses as a part of their comprehensive plan of labor support for women during the childbirth experience. This article describes five complementary therapies (aromatherapy, massage, use of birth balls, music therapy, and hydrotherapy), and how one large Midwestern hospital system implemented an educational program for nurses that helped them integrate complementary therapies into their nursing care for laboring women.

In an age of technology and operative births, these authors bring us back to our roots in nursing and encourage us to use nursing interventions for pain relief. They even tell us how to go about making this change in practice.

Elaine Zwelling is a Perinatal Nurse Consultant, Hill-Rom Company, Sarasota, FL. She can be reached via e-mail at

Kitti Johnson is a Perinatal Nurse Consultant, Hill-Rom Company, Cincinnati, OH.

Jonell Allen is a Perinatal Clinical Nurse Specialist, Community Health Network, Indianapolis, IN.

Two of the authors of this article (Zwelling and Johnson) are employed by Hill-Rom, whose educational program is discussed herein.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.