Coping With Labor Pain
Yes mama, baby clothes are cute, you want the absolute best car seat for your infant, you want to know all of the best tips/tricks for dealing with an infant, along with all the baby must haves, and the list goes on and on. Although, what we don't hear a lot about is how to cope with labor pain.
Whether you are excited, nervous, or scared for your special day, I can assure you there are some really great techniques/tips to put to use during labor. They will be sure to help alleviate the pain and make a considerable difference in your birthing experience.
Alright mama, so let's get down to it, because I'm sure you are ready to hear all about them!
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Coping With Labor Pain
1.Touch and Massage
This approach has been proven to be extremely helpful in lessening pain sensations throughout labor. Touch can be as simple as your partner holding your hand or gently stroking your arms, legs, or abdomen.
While in labor, your body tends to naturally release endorphins that are "morphinlike." With touch and massage, it is likely that more endorphins will be released as long as you stay as relaxed as possible. Stress and tension tend to cancel out the "morphin-like" endorphins with hormones known as catecholomines. I know it may be difficult to relax while in labor, but you want as many "morphine-like" chemicals as possible. So try some touch and massage in order to relax and get those endorphins flowing!
This was an absolute life saver for me! I mean just think of those times when you had a migraine and you applied pressure to your temples. Possibly massaging your head in a circular motion, and it made your head feel better! Applying pressure to certain areas has been proven to reduce pain and tension.
The same goes for back labor. If you experience back labor, your contractions will be felt in the small of your back. Although, if your support person applies counter-pressure on your lower pack, it will help significantly in decreasing the discomfort that comes with back labor. The pressure can be applied by them using a closed fist, the heel of their hand, or these awesome massage balls. Once in labor, you will be able to tell your support person exactly where to apply pressure and how hard to push!
My nurse is actually the one who applied the counter pressure for me! And I cannot thank her enough for it!
3. Changing Positions
Staying in one position can escalate tension. And boy does it get extremely uncomfortable sitting in a bed for hours. So instead move regularly and change positions frequently. Many women, myself included, find it more comfortable to be upright or up and walking around while in labor. Some activities: such as rocking, swaying, walking, standing, leaning against your partner, allow your body to take advantage of movement and gravity, encouraging descending progress of the baby.
Change positions from walking, to standing and leaning against your partner, from squatting and rocking on a birthing ball, to resting on all fours, to resting on your knees leaning against the head of the bed (head of bed will need to be raised). Switching positions and keeping yourself moving will only help to keep labor progressing more rapidly and smoothly.
4. Cleansing Breath
Take a deep breath, in through your nose and out through your mouth, at the start and end of each contraction. This deep breath will not only give your baby and you an additional boost of oxygen, but it will also signal to your body to relax and focus. This deep, cleansing breath, can also cue your support person that a contraction has begun, letting them know to begin applying counter pressure.
5. Rhythmical Breathing Techniques
Try to relax as much as possible and work with your contractions while using relaxation and breathing techniques. What ever breathing technique works best for you, do it mama. As there is no right or wrong way. You may prefer breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Or in and out of your nose, or in and out of your mouth.
The most important part is to have your breathing feel natural and even, and should help with relaxation. Make sure to keep it at a comfortable pace, as you do not want it causing you to feel short of breath or light headed. You should learn all about the different sorts of breathing techniques at your lamaze class. Although, if you did not take a lamaze class, your nurse will be able to guide you through some techniques.
6. Warm Water
Warmth can be highly effective in lessening pain and establishing relaxation. If your water has not yet broken, your nurse/doctor may allow you to take a warm shower/bath. If a shower/bath is not an option, a warm compress or heating pad applied to your lower back can be effective in lessening pain and creating relaxation.
7. Birthing Ball
This was another life saver for me! A birthing ball can help in laboring more effectively as it allows for different upright positions. A birthing ball may be used to rock and sway in rhythm with your contractions, possibly helping lessen the contraction pain.
There are several different ways a birthing ball may be used.
- Sitting astride the ball and rocking your pelvis back and forth, side to side, or in a circle.
- Leaning over your ball from a standing position, with the ball sitting on the bed, chair, etc.
- Leaning on your birthing ball from a kneeling position. This can be done on your bed.
- Hug your ball from a hands-and-knees position. Then lift your bottom up from the kneeling position and rock your pelvis from side to side.
You can find a birthing ball, especially made for laboring mamas here.
This was not something I used with my last laboring experience, although it will be used with my next one! Aromatherapy is a non-invasive, safe, and natural treatment to help soothe the mind and body. Use aromatherapy as a gentle, yet efficient way to help with relaxation, calm anxiety, and lessen pain. Along with traditional methods, use aromatherapy, to calm your mind, boost your mood, lessen pain, and mitigate discomfort.
Benefits of aromatherapy during labor include:
- Helping expedite labor that is progressing slowly.
- Certain oils can assist in strengthening and energizing. Providing you with the spirit to approach labor with a little more tranquility.
- During the time when you feel discouraged and exhausted, use oils to help lessen fatigue and boost your mood.
- Certain oils can be used to help boost the activity of the uterus, making contractions increasingly effective.
- Have your support person use oils for massage. Oils, massage, counter pressure, and touch are all excellent ways to help lessen the pain of contractions along with soothing anxiety and controlling nerves.
Not sure what oils to use? Here is a great list of the best essential oils to use for labor. You can also talk with your doctor, doula, or midwife about what essential oils are the most effective during labor.
9. Dim the Lights and Play Music
Baby, lock the door and turn the lights down low. 😉 Well I mean think about how you feel when you are at the dentist with bright lights in your face. Compared to when you are at a fancy restaurant with the lights slightly dimmed. I can pretty well guess you prefer the dimmed restaurant over the brightly lit dentist office. So dim those hospital lights to create a more relaxed mood.
Playing some calming music may also help you to relax. Although, before you head into labor I would recommend having a playlist already created. Because, I'm not so sure if most of us moms would want Metallica and what not jamming while we are laboring!
10. Double Hip Squeeze
During labor the pressure of the baby's head stretches mama's pelvis. The double hip squeeze is a type of pressure that is applied to the hips in order to alleviate lower back pain. This squeeze pushes the pelvis back into a more relaxed position, alleviating the pressure that comes from the stretching.
Have your support person place their hands on your hip bones. They then slide their hands up your back, although keeping them placed on your large hip bones. Keep the hands on the bone with the thumbs pointing towards the spine, creating a "W." Your support person should then push the hip bones up and in. This technique is probably easiest with the laboring mom leaning over the bed or a birthing ball.
11. Focus and Distraction
Focusing your attention on one thing allows distracting thoughts to pass by quicker. Any point of focus can work, whether it is the small hand on the clock, a photograph of your older child, a meaningful object, a sound, a saying ("Each Contraction Brings Me Closer To Meeting My Baby"), the monitor, a spot on the wall, wiggling your fingers or toes. It can literally be whatever you choose. Just when you feel those contractions coming on, focus all of your attention onto your chosen object.
Before the contractions really start to kick in, pass some time and distract yourself by playing a card game, watching TV, reading a book, writing a letter to your baby to give to them later on, etc.
A rebozo is a traditional Mexican woven scarf, that can be used several different ways during labor.
The rebozo can help a baby rotate during labor more easily, help the laboring mother relax along with relaxing her abdominal muscles and uterine ligaments, and apply counter pressure by squeezing your hips.
A rebozo is something that I did not use during my first birth, but you can bet your bottom it is going to be in my hospital bag for my next one.
Here is a great article about how to use the rebozo, along with a video of rebozo techniques. This rebezo is beautiful, has great reviews, and has a great price! After baby is born, use it as a breastfeeding shawl, a blanket for tummy time, etc.
Hypnobirthing is a technique used during labor for pain management. It includes using a combination of breathing techniques, visualisation, and relaxation.
Hypnobirthing is a great way to manage pain during labor along with making your first stage of labor shorter.
I am no expert with hypnobirthing, so the hypnobirthing website has some great information on hypnobirthing success stories, upcoming hypnobirthing events, along with finding a hypnobirthing educator.
14. TENS Machine
A TENS machine is a battery powered machine, with a hand held controller connected to sticky pads that attach to your skin. The machine then sends pulses of electric current through your skin and into your muscles and tissues. The sensations feel sort of like a buzzing or tingling. Depending on the setting level that you choose, the sensations can be stronger or weaker.
The TENS machine works by the electrical pulses blocking the pain signals from reaching your brain. The sensations also provide you with distraction from your contractions. The pulses also trigger your body into releasing endorphins.
The TENS will most likely be effective in early labor and you should start using it once you are getting regular contractions. DO NOT place the pads on your stomach, only on your back! And of course, no using the TENS in the shower, bath, etc.
The Babycentre has a great article covering all topics of a TENS machine if you are looking into using one for labor. Including pros/cons, when you should/shouldn't use a TENS, along with how it works and it's effectiveness.
There you have it mamas! I hope that some of the techniques listed above provide you with some effective labor pain relief! And I pray for a healthy and safe delivery!
Just remember mama, the pain won't last forever! And every contraction is only bringing you closer to meeting your precious baby!
If you have tried any of the techniques listed above, I would love to hear all about your results. Or if there is something that worked wonders for you, but didn't make the list, let us know in the comments! As it may just help another laboring mama! And we are all about moms helping moms here! 🙂
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