Pain Relief During Childbirth

Carol Burnett described labor pains in the following way: “Take your bottom lip and pull it over your head.” Any woman that’s been in the throws of active labor knows exactly what this is all about. In fact, many times, women can get so caught up in the labor part of labor and delivery that they miss the actual joy of delivering their child into the world. It doesn’t have to debilitate you, though. Here are some ways to cope during this most amazing experience.

Childbirth Classes ~
Lamaze classes are all about empowerment. Realizing that, as a woman, you can do this! They educate through relaxation techniques and focus on decreasing their perception of pain. As you know, the build-up can be worse than the actual experience (i.e. roller coaster anxiety.) Breathing techniques, massage, and distraction are some of the aspects of Lamaze. The class usually lasts about 6 weeks. Check your local hospital or childbirth facility if you’re within 12 weeks of deliveryâÂ?¦ you don’t want to be half way through the classes when you go into labor!
The Bradley method (also called Husband-Coached Birth) encourages the baby’s father’s involvement to become an active participant as the birth coach. A major goal of this method is to deter from pain medication unless absolutely necessary. It also focuses on good nutrition, exercise, and relaxation during pregnancy to better prepare the body for delivery. And although it’s stand on pain medication is clear, parents-to-be are also instructed about the preparation for unexpected complications, like emergency cesarean.

Hypnosis ~
Some women become so relaxed with this method, that it’s hard to tell when they’re actually having a contraction. Hypnosis creates a totally peaceful state in the body’s chemistry that will relax the muscles so deeply; the fear melts away right along with any tension. Worried that you might bark like a dog any time someone says the word, “newborn?” Don’t. Hypnosis merely interrupts the cycle of “fear + tension = pain.”

Yoga ~
Yoga is all about the breathing. Deep breathing can release the physical tension in the body as well as the emotional tension in anticipation of labor and delivery. Yoga is also a great way to strengthen the body so that it is better prepared for pushing. It will also help you get your pre-baby figure back!

Meditation ~
Like yoga, meditation during labor can alleviate pain through deep breathing by releasing endorphins and reducing adrenaline. This benefit is two-fold: the mother communicates psychologically and energetically, influencing the child to produce neurohormones and neurotransmitters; and she communicates hormonal benefits through the bloodstream to the child. Imagery and meditation is especially helpful before the active labor stage.

Walking ~
Let gravity play a part in pain relief during labor. Some say that walking will speed delivery (the ultimate pain reliever) and others say it has no effect. But, either way, walking can alleviate some of the pressure on the lower back once you’re up and moving around. You may not feel like it, and that’s ok, too. Don’t push yourselfâÂ?¦ you’ll have plenty of time to push when baby’s ready! But increasing circulation in the legs can make labor bearable.

Massage ~
I’m a fan of massage, whether I’m pregnant or not. Most women would agree. Counter-pressure, especially if you’re experiencing “back labor,” can be very helpful and relaxing when your muscles tense up. If you’re alone, you can put 1 or 2 tennis balls in a tube sock, place it between your back and a wall and just roll up and down. It works like a charm!

Changing position ~
Once again, let gravity do its thing. For some women, getting on all fours can make the baby “float” and take some of the stress off of your back, especially if you’ve been on bed rest or haven’t felt like moving a lot. Sitting on a birthing ball (the kind that look like “hobby-horses” or an exercise ball) can help, too. Just the softness of it can be a nice change from either being on your feet or lying in bed; plus, it helps to keep the pelvis open. And It’s kind of fun, as long as you keep your balance and don’t fall off. In other words, no deep bouncing ~ it’s not a jungle gym!

Taking a bath or shower ~
Hydrotherapy, like massage, can reduce the tension in the body. The warmth of a shower can be especially soothing if the water is concentrated on the lower back or belly. Add a little lavender body wash and the aromatherapy can soothe the anxiety away, too!

Distraction ~
When all else fails, break out the needlepoint! Do a crossword puzzle, watch Jeopardy, read the newspaper or have someone paint your toenails� anything to take your mind off of the pain or anxiety that comes with childbirth.

Mothers-to-be wonder what their child will look like� how they can raise their baby to be a good person� they contemplate the best ways to teach life lessons. But they can also turn into screaming banshees at the first hint of a contraction. I remember looking over at my husband while I was in labor and wondering if he wore a cup that day! My mom was in the delivery room, too, and I told each of them when they started counting to ten [while I was pushing], that whoever got to ten first, wins!

Giving birth is one of the most rewarding and unforgettable experiences in a woman’s life. Don’t let the pain during labor hamper your ultimate goalâÂ?¦ delivering that beautiful baby. “You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet,” right? Yes, but you don’t have to smash them against the wall, now do ya? Besides, you won’t even remember the pain once you finally look into your new baby’s eyes.

Now that’s peace.

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