We’re not going to lie to you, labour is hard work and those surges require you to focus to get through the pain. I want to assure you that labour is not indefinite. There is an end and it comes with your beautiful and healthy baby in your arms. The key is to have many different ways to manage the contractions and to also remember each surge brings your baby closer to your arms.
Hire a doula
There is so much research that supports your best pain management is good labour support. Hiring a birth doula is probably one of the best gifts you can give you and your partner. A doula, provides continuous labour support, provides information, advocates, reassures, and takes care of mama, partner and new baby.
Try different positions
It’s really important to move your body and try different positions. It helps to keep your body limber and relaxed and also helps the baby fit into the birth canal. I always recommend giving a new position 3 contractions before it is boycotted. Getting into new positions is hard work and it takes the body a little to settle in. If after 3 you still don’t like it then try another.
Lower your voice
Labour used to be depicted with these high pitched breathing sounds and it could still have a benefit for some in labour. But generally, we encourage, low bellowed sounds, that help to relax the throat. I remember when being taught by Ina May Gaskin, that when the throat is relaxed the cervix can relax and that these 2 sphincters have a direct connection. So try to remember to lower your tone. This will also help you focus on your breath, relax the shoulders and pelvic floor muscles.
Applying warmth to aching, tense muscles is an effective way of relieving labour pain. Using a wheat bag, hot water bottle, immersing yourself in warm water or having your support person rub your back with essential oils are excellent ways to stimulate your body in making it’s own natural pain killers.
I cannot even tell you how many births I have been to where the shower or the bath, played such a crucial role for the labouring woman. Water is soothing, calming and helps you feel buoyant when you are likely feeling uncomfortable.
Having someone rub your shoulders, massage your scalp or apply pressure on your hips and sacrum are all great ways to minimize the pain sensation. Massage stimulates the production of endorphins which are natural pain killers and mood enhancers.
It is important to keep your fluid levels up and not get dehydrated. You can add an electrolyte mix to your water or have some coconut water. These will add minerals to your water which is being depleted from all the energy you are exerting in labour.
Do your best to calm your mind, focus on your breath and feel the love of those around you
Our bodies need to produce oxytocin to have good effectual contractions. When we feel safe and loved the body emits this hormone in perfect amounts. When we feel fear, anxiety or distress our body does not secrete oxytocin in the same amounts. So allow yourself to be embraced, to be taken care of, and to allow your baby to come into your arms.