10 Tips To Ease Labor Pain
If you were to interview a group of expectant mothers about their biggest fear with child birth, the pain of labor is likely to be one of the top concerns. The pain of labor is inescapable – even if you plan to have an epidural, you have to go through a certain amount of labor first. So learning to relax and welcome the labor is essential preparation for birth.
Often women perceive labor and birth as something happening to them rather than something powerful that they themselves are doing. The following ten tips are to help build confidence and provide ideas for managing labor:
- Get Moving: Positions where you are laying flat on your back, or where your pelvis is immobile, are likely to be the most painful. Kneeling, semi-reclining, standing, walking, etc. are going to keep your pelvis mobile so the bones and ligaments can stretch and move aside as the baby moves into position for birth. The pelvis is like a lock and the baby is the key. These position changes often help rotate baby with gravity to its greatest effect, moving the baby down through the pelvis.Keep in mind no single position is going to work throughout labor. You may need to change positions many times in labor and of course this all depends on the progress. Having numerous ideas in mind before going into labor is preparation. Bonus tip: Walking may even speed up your labor!
- Relax: Relaxing your muscles lessens your pain just as tension will heighten it. During contractions use slow deep breathing, focus on something in the room, chant, hum, or moan. Whatever it takes to make you feel relaxed. Some women sleep in between contractions. Others use meditation and self hypnosis. Women are most likely to use relaxation techniques they already know rather than to learn new ones while in labor. So in the weeks leading up to your birth, practice different relaxation techniques to find what works best for you.
- Touch me babe: Skin is our largest organ, and the most accessible. Touch is an essential tool for relaxation. Stroking and massaging a mom in labor can help her to relax by releasing tension. She may want to be massaged during a contraction as a means of relieving the pain of that contraction. Or she may want to be massaged between contractions as a way of relaxing after the tension.
- Use all of your senses: You’ve got touch covered, but what about sight, hearing, smell, taste? Combine the senses to heighten the effect – use lavender scented lotion for massage. Dim the lights and put on quiet music. Use frozen electrolytes or honey sticks for energy. Look into your partner’s eyes as you listen to his voice.
- Dim the lights: Research shows that women labor better in a dimly lit room. Dim lights create an environment of security and relaxation.
- Privacy, please. An environment where the laboring mom feels secure is one of the most important aspects of birthing, and can go a long way toward easing labor pain. Keeping the room quiet of speech, whispering only when needed. This privacy will encourage mothers to relax, letting go of their fight or flight response. By doing so, moms are no longer fighting against their bodies, but working with them.
- Labor support: research shows that women who have continuous support in labor are less likely to use pain medications, have fewer interventions, and feel more positive about their birth experience.
- Water, water everywhere: Whether she’s sitting in a pool of warm water, or under the spray of a shower, water can soothe labor pain and help mom relax more effectively with her contractions. From another standpoint, keep mom well hydrated. A uterus without enough hydration cannot work effectively, and labor may slow.
- Music to my ears: Use music during labor to inspire mom or calm her down. Different points in labor may call for different types of music. But, in general, music will help the laboring mother to relax.
- Get on the ball: Sitting on a birthing ball (a large ball that is typically used for exercise or physical therapy) can alleviate back pain during labor, and put mom into a supported squatting position. She’s still mobile and upright, but she can let go of some of the tension in her legs and upper body, making the contractions less painful. Kneeling on the floor leaning onto the ball is also helpful for easing back labor and rotating a posterior positioned baby.
While all of these methods will not completely eliminate the pain of labor, they will however make the natural process more manageable. Take one contraction at a time. Rest and relax in between. Try the same strategy with the next contraction. When the method stops working, and you start feeling more intensity, try something new. Before you know it, you’ve made it through labor, and it’s time to welcome your baby into the world.
Charlotte Sanchez(CPM) is a Certified Professional Midwife and
Child birth educator of over 20yrs.