If you’re hoping to have a natural birth, it’s a good idea to plan in advance how you want to manage the pain of labor. While these methods won’t rid you of the discomfort of contractions, they will help you get through. And that’s really all you need to do – get through one contraction at a time.
Try a new way of breathing – take a deep breath in through your nose and blow it out your mouth, relaxing your muscles on the outbreath. Focus on your breathing, not your contractions. Try counting as you breathe in and breathe out to the same number or imagine the air coming in as one color and going out as another, more relaxing, color. At the peak of a contraction, it might be necessary to change the pace of your breathing (not many people can maintain slow, deep breaths through pain). To practice this, start by placing your hands on your abdomen and breathe in as if the air is going the whole way to your hands, then breath out again. Now place your hands on your chest, and imagine the breaths in only going to that level – this is the level of breathing you might need at the hardest part of each contraction. Once the peak has passed, you can go back to the abdominal breaths.
Get a hand massage – let your birth partner support your hand and focus on his or her touch. He or she can make small circles all over your palm, stroke from wrist to fingertips, massage each finger separately, or squeeze your whole hand tightly. Use some massage oil to improve the effectiveness of the movements, and to keep your skin from getting chapped. Choose scented oil for the additional value of aromatherapy.
Follow the maze – consider placing a maze or labyrinth image on the wall, and as the contraction starts, work your way through it visually. If you’re laboring at home, you can even set up a labyrinth to walk if you have enough space inside or outside.
Color away your tension – coloring books aren’t just for kids! Find a book of mandalas or patterns, choose colored pencils or felt tipped pens, and color to your heart’s content. Coloring allows you to enter a meditative state, and can ease stress and help you maintain focus. You may even be able to find a book meant just for the purpose of childbirth.
Shake your booty – dance through your contractions. Put on some energizing music and sway your hips or put on some slow jams and dance closely with your partner. The movement will help baby move into a favorable position for birth, and will help you lessen the pain of each contraction.
No one method will work throughout labor, so plan to use more than one. What other methods can you think of to help get you through one contraction at a time?
Written by Michelle, lactation consultant, Lamaze instructor, writer and editor, and mom to 4 busy kids
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.