Easing Labor Pains
The labor and delivery team at North Florida's All About Women discuss pain management techniques all expecting moms should know
When it comes to labor, every woman is different. Some want pain relief as soon as possible, others want to wait as long as they can, others want to avoid medical pain relief altogether. Regardless of whether or not you choose an epidural or other pain medication, it’s likely that you will experience pain at some point during labor and so it's best to be prepared.
There are many different techniques that can provide women relief from labor pains. Here are some the most common techniques you should be familiar with before baby is on his way:
Preparing for what to expect during the birthing process is important for all women, regardless of how you choose to manage your pain. When you understand the stages of labor and when pain relief measures can be taken, then you’ll be better equipped mentally for what lays ahead. And if you're planning a natural birth, taking a class will help give you the opportunity to practice the techniques you'll use on the big day.
North Florida Regional Medical Center has several recurrent childbirth classes for you to choose from.
Research on effective pain management in labor (summarized in the American Family Physician) has found that women who receive continuous labor support, often by a doula, have lower use of pain medication and increased birth satisfaction.
A doula is someone trained in labor support who stays with a woman throughout the labor process. Even if you don't use a doula, you should have a trained birth partner who knows how to help you when pain hits. A birth partner can be a spouse, family member, or friend – someone who you trust and are very comfortable with.
Whoever you choose, you and your birth partner should practice:
- Pressure on the lower back in case you have back labor.
- Comforting touch. Some women enjoy having their backed rubbed or being lightly touched during labor. Other women don’t want to be touched at all.
- Warm/cold compresses. You may appreciate cool cloths during the labor transition, or a warm compress to help relieve the discomfort of contractions.
- Breathing techniques. Your support person should be trained in helpful breathing techniques so they can help remind you to breath through contractions.
Different positions can dramatically help women cope with labor pains while aiding labor progress. Here are some of the most common helpful positions:
- Kneeling on your hands and knees
- Swaying while supported by your birth partner, as if you were dancing
- Sitting on a birthing ball
- Walking (Besides helping manage pain, walking can also help labor progress.)
Your birth partner should know some of these helpful positions, but midwives and the nursing staff can also suggest positions depending on your pain.
Other Coping Mechanisms
There are many other ways to help manage labor pains. Here are a few common techniques:
- A quiet and dark environment. Many women appreciate a quiet and dark environment with minimal stimulus (including people in the room).
- Making noise. Pain can seem greater when you internalize it. Don't be afraid to make noise to help you cope.
- Using Water. Many women find that warm water baths, showers, or having someone pour water on them helps relieve pain.
Find a Maternity Team You Trust
Even if you’re just waiting for your epidural, learning about various techniques for dealing with labor pain is always a good idea, as is having a team of maternity providers that you trust.
The obstetricians and midwives at Gainesville's All About Women want to help you prepare for the big day and all that lies beyond.