What is labor pain? Just a sensation. It’s a sensation you can decide to treat as an enemy trying to tear you apart, or a friend helping you through a milestone moment that will change you forever as you become a mother. Techniques for coping with labor can come from within you (your mind and breath) or from without — from your partner or through medications. Either way, your choice of techniques can be written into your birth plan.
If it’s your very first baby or your first baby after a C-section or your first baby after the birth of your last child, this birth is yours to make your own by deciding how to manage labor. Your choice of methods for coping with labor “sensation” is a significant point of your birth plan that can determine other options you may choose.
Try these 7 techniques to calm your mind and body
The most common technique used by women to manage their labor sensations. You can do it anywhere, at any time, to control your emotions and reactions to the changing demands of labor. Many women have successfully used slow breathing in and longer breathing out to ride their labor contractions. Breathing can get you through those beginning contractions that start slow and are infrequent all the way through the major ones that are back-to-back and demanding the most of you.
An old technique that’s becoming more and more popular. Jessica Alba and other celebrities have used it successfully. This method can be mentioned in your birth plan so your birth team can give you space to do it. According to research, both self-hypnosis and hypnosis guided by another person helped manage pain sensations more than the top three mainstream approaches: childbirth education classes, counseling, and normal medical care.
Another way to adjust your mind to control your body. Here’s another technique that can be most effective for some women when they do it themselves, and for other women when they do it with a support person. Guided relaxation means using your breath and focusing on a place in your body. Especially between labor contractions, having a trusted person talk you through conscious relaxation gives you a mini-vacation to rest in order to ride that next contraction. Relaxing music, scents, and images are often included in birth plans.
Use gravity to increase openness. Lying on your back is the least effective way to manage your labor sensations. Standing up often helps a lot; squatting opens your pelvis to the greatest degree for baby to come through; hands and knees position takes the pressure off your back. Changing your position can make a big difference in moving with your contractions or for pushing.
Creating the peaceful, calm space you need to focus well, relax completely, bond with your partner, and trust you can go with the flow of your labor. Experts say that, “experiencing calm is associated with greater satisfaction.” This includes who is in the room with you or what sounds, scents, or scenes are part of your labor environment.
These range from an epidural to spinal block to narcotics to tranquilizers to nitrous oxide. Some eliminate pain, some relieve anxiety, some numb a certain area. There are pros and cons to each one; some affect just mom and some affect both mom and baby. The Mayo Clinic has a good list of the medications, the reason to use them, and their effects.
Understanding the process and your options helps increase your confidence because you know what to expect and how to handle it. Confusion and fear make us tense in any situation. In labor it can make the difference between having the birth you planned, or needing to resort to other options. Research shows that education helps us find our own self-care techniques and we expect to be more successful. Prenatal education classes give you and your partner tools to use together and to creatively think during labor’s intense demands.
Many of these techniques can be mentioned in your birth plan. Even if your birth doesn’t go as planned, you can still use some of these coping techniques, no matter where your baby is born.
To learn more about labor tips, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.
This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner. These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.
Published: September 30, 2017 | By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula | Reviewed by: The Best Ever Baby Expert Team | Last reviewed: September, 2017