The most awaited moment of your journey as a soon-to-be-mom has finally arrived! Even though you have been dreading the labor pains, you are also excited to be finally able to see and hold your “own” little baby.
Named aptly, labor is indeed the threshold to motherhood. An out of the world experience that makes you feel intense pain and happiness from bringing your bundle of joy into the world at the same time. But as you must already know panicking does not help. Here are some pointers that will definitely help you keep yourself together during labor-
- Relax and Be in the Moment.
Truth be told, labor and the physical pains that come with it, are neither unusual nor unforeseen, but they need not be terrifying. The first thing you can do is pack your hospital bag in advance so you don’t have to stress at time when you have to rush to the hospital at a moment’s notice. It’s a great idea to pack all the mom and baby bag essentials by the time you are about 36 weeks pregnant to avoid the last minute rush.
Easen your mind and relax because the fear of pain only worsens it, augmenting the physical and mental agony. Consider creating a calm and cosy environment. Surround yourself with pictures of your family, light music, and aromatherapy to surf through the discomfort.
Be in the moment and focus on conserving energy between contractions. Your body will thank you and you will be better focused on delivering your baby. Shorter labor time, lesser medical interventions, and a highly possible normal birth – the advantages of staying panic free and relaxed are many.
- Visualisation and relaxation techniques are certain psychological ways to deal with pain taught in childbirth classes. These are ways of calming down your mind by focusing on pleasant memories or positive experiences. Good and joyous sensory experiences like sights, sounds, smells and tastes are recreated by listening to favourite sounds or reading scenarios of walking along a beach. All of it will distract the mind from the physical pain.
- Breathe – Inhale Calm, Exhale Stress. Really helps in coping with anxiety and managing pains contractions. Long and deep breaths or short and quick ones, suit yourself. What really matters is to shifting your attention from the pain to following your breathing. As long as you are doing this, you will be relaxed and calm. A fool-proof way to lessen the pains naturally. It is natural and also recommended to emit some low groans during the contraction. Keep aside all your hesitations and just go with your gut feeling.
- Move It. It’s best to keep moving than lying stationary on the bed anticipating the next contraction. Keep yourself active by walking, moving back and forth, using those effective labor positions (remember your prenatal classes), or by simply using a birthing ball. Rolling on the birthing ball can keep the pain at bay and also helping in labor gaining momentum by assisting the baby to move and turn in sync. Thanks gravity! However, if being bound up in a hospital with limited movements, try being on your knees, squatting or leaning over. Keep alternating between different positions till you find one that makes you the most comfortable.
- Warm Water Wonders
Historically, warm water has always been used during labor to lessen the pain, to ease the muscle pains and to create a soothing feeling for the mother. Not much has changed today. Warm water is still recommended by persons trained in childbirth, to drastically reduce the pain. Simply, walk into a warm shower to feel at ease with yourself and your body. Although, it’s wise to first consult your doctor, as a warm shower in early labour stages (under 4 cms), can lead to a slow and sluggish labor. In such cases, consider using a heat pack to unwind the tissues, creating the much needed comfort.
- Massage the pain away. The feeling of being loved or cared for is a great inducer of calm in itself, releasing oxytocin, a natural pain. Massage during and before labor is a great relaxant for the body and the mind, improving blood flow, and reducing the discomfort effectively. Massage lightly with the fingertips on the sore areas with your favourite carrier oil traced with calming essential oils. Your partner or support person will be most willing to carry it out for you. Even a gentle foot rub, hand or forehead strokes can distract you from the pain.
- Pain Relieving Drugs
The most commonly used pain relieving drug is the Epidural, which can be very effective within some minutes of local administration in the lower back. They are mostly used when the labor has been too long and the mother is in dire need of some relief from the pain. As it slowly and continuously enters the bloodstream, it slowly induces numbness while you can still feel enough to push.
It’s hard to know in advance which measure or combination of measures you will want to use once you are in labour. So stay calm and make your decision as you go. What’s important for now is to do your homework. So learn about all your options, talk to your doctor and trust yourself to make the right decision!