You might have heard a lot about labor pains, but the fact of the matter is you will only experience pain during the contractions themselves; the time in between contractions is completely and blissfully pain-free! As such, your best strategy is to take advantage of these strategic moments to relax your body and get more comfortable to reduce contraction pains.
Here are some suggestions on how to relieve pain during labor through natural methods:
Rhythmic breathing is your first line of defense against stress and physical discomfort during contractions. Get into the habit of taking a deep breath then relaxing your muscles as you exhale while you’re still pregnant, so that when it’s time for labor you can perform the same exercise at the beginning of each contraction with ease. It helps to focus on repeating a single word when breathing in and out, such as “re - lax”. The trick to this exercise is keeping a good rhythm throughout the process. Breathe through the nose and exhale through the mouth, making sure to keep your facial muscles relaxed.
Keeping your muscles warm is a great way to loosen them up and release the tension. You can warm your back, stomach, or groin by using a hot water bottle, but make sure to fill the bottle with hot – not boiling – water and wrap it in a cover or towel before applying it to your body to avoid getting burnt.
In addition to helping with pain relief, massaging can decrease your anxiety, relax your muscles, and release endorphins, all of which contribute to making your more physically comfortable. Areas that will offer relief when massaged are the base of the back during contractions, and the shoulders during the intervals between contractions. Make sure that whoever is massaging you starts with slow rhythmic motions, which are most conducive to relaxation.
It’s usually best to avoid lying on your back during contractions, as this position might slow down your labor and prolong the pain. Instead, choose a more comfortable labor position and have your birth partner or nurse help you stand up and lean on the bed on occasion, kneel down and lean on the seat of a chair, walk around every now and then, or get on all fours to relieve backache.
In the first stage of labor, the best thing can do is to conserve your energy by keeping yourself comfortable and rest often. You can do this by arranging pillows around you while sitting in bed or in a chair and having something warm and sweet to drink. Watch TV, play your favorite music, flip through magazines, and keep calm. You’ll be more prepared for the contractions if you’re well rested instead of exhausted at the very start.
Some women find that contraction pains are not as severe when they’re laboring in water. If possible, consider using a birthing pool, as research has found that women who labor in water are less like to need an epidural than women opting for normal birthing conditions. Some studies have also indicated that women using birthing pools required less pain-relieving medication.
Having someone you know and trust with you during labor can make a world of a difference than being on your own. A trusted friend, family member or partner can give you ongoing emotional support throughout the labor process and calm you down, and can make you feel more comfortable by helping you change your birthing positions, arrange pillows around you, and keep your mind at ease by liaising with the medical staff. Remember, you need to choose someone who will support you and give you confidence, not panic and make you nervous, so choose wisely.