Back when I was "preparing" for labor, I read all kinds of helpful stuff about managing labor pain. Like how I should practice by holding an ice cube in my hand as long as I could. Really? As someone who has Been To The Mountain And Back, that was totally unhelpful. Holding ice prepares you for labor pains my ass. Not the same thing, people! Not the same thing.
So what IS helpful? An epidural, obviously. But perhaps you want to attempt an unmedicated birth. Or maybe you just want to postpone that epidural as long as possible -- people have good reasons for doing that. Here are some pain management tips that will at least help you through the first few hours of labor before things get really insane.
- Vocalization: You know, screaming? I'm kidding. Seriously, though, moaning along with labor pains can help.
- Just move: Labor is no time to lie down! Moving around, pacing the halls, maybe even slowly dancing can help labor progress, and it helps you deal with the pain better, especially in the earlier stages.
- Water birth: I have friends who swear by the water birth. More and more hospitals are supplying tubs. Most birth centers have them. And of course, if you birth at home, you definitely have that option.
- Counter pressure: Steady, firm pressure on your lower spine can help somewhat with back labor. (But don't expect miracles.)
- Birthing balls: Spending some time on one of those giant, inflatable yoga balls can help relieve some of the pain. It provides perineal support without pressure, among other things.
- Breathing techniques: Special breathing exercises, like the Bradley Method, are supposed to be very helpful for managing labor pain and helping your labor to move along. There's also Lamaze.
- Hypnobirthing: This is one I wish I'd tried. Pain is all in the mind, right? Hypnobirthing is all about helping moms have a calm, relaxed labor through hypnosis.
- Relaxing atmosphere: Okay, this will not make the pain go away. But the more relaxed and pleasant your environment is, the easier it is for you to just focus on riding out each contraction. Some people pick out the perfect playlist, dim the lights, burn incense, do aromatherapy, kick their mothers-in-law out of the room -- all of that can help. Some moms choose to birth at home mainly because they can better control their environment. Having people who love and support you there is essential.
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What did you do to help manage the pain?
Image via birthersage/Flickr