Let’s face it: one of the great unknowns for every woman bringing new life into the world is the labor process. Labor is, by definition, hard work; laboring during childbirth can be downright painful and each woman has her own threshold and tolerance for discomfort.
One of my focuses as a healthcare practitioner who assists pregnant women in achieving low-intervention and pain-free childbirth is to educate patients about the different stages of labor—which helps lesson the fear of the unknown. Sometimes the mere anxiety and anticipation can intensify labor pains—something I want to help my moms-to-be avoid.
Try some of these simple, yet effective, low-intervention coping mechanisms and techniques to help improve your natural labor experience and maintain a pain-free birth.
Walk. I’m not talking about speed walking or laps around the block, but try walking or strolling around the room. Many women find relief in the movement.
Take a bath. Relaxing in a hot tub filled with some of your favorite scented oil can help soothe you physically and emotionally. At Overland Park Regional Medical Center we have oversized tubs in our four birthing suites that laboring moms love.
… or a shower. If you don’t want to take a bath, try a hot shower, aiming the spray at your lower back.
Get a back massage. Have your partner rub your back—again, choose one of your favorite scented oils. The aromatherapy will help you relax.
Soothing music. Many of my patients compile play lists throughout their pregnancy—music that helps them get in a different frame of mind, meditate or relax. Especially during labor, music can be a calming influence.
Favorite meditation. It’s been proven that prayer or sayings can help laboring moms get into a Zen state of mind. Whether it’s the Serenity Prayer, one your grandmother taught you, a yoga mantra or a favorite passage you’ve memorized from Shakespeare, repeat it during labor.
Stay hydrated. This is so important—be sure to have a glass of water handy, ice chips or your favorite herbal tea. The last thing you want during labor is to feel parched. Have a tube of lip balm nearby, too.
Be comfy. Wear your favorite plush robe and warm socks. Hospital gowns aren’t a must—and neither are hospital-issue pillows. Be sure to pack your own.