Let’s face it, we can experience some pretty strong and intense emotions and sensations during labour and birth. But how we perceive those sensations and what we ‘do’ during those contractions can lessen the intensity and reduce pain during birth.
Here are our top tips for relieving pain in labour:
1. Set up your environment: no mammal in nature would willingly seek out bright lights or an uncomfortable environment to have their babies in. Take cats for example; they’ll find a place that is dark, warm, quiet and where they are least likely to be disturbed. Environment matters, especially in early labour when the feel-good, pain-relieving hormones of labour are becoming established, so choose an environment for your labour that makes you feel safe, secure, unobserved and uninhibited.
2. Pick your people: birth is an instinctual, private & intimate act for a woman. Choose people who are supportive of you & what you want for your birth. Choose care-providers who believe in you & your body’s ability to birth in the way you want to birth. Having a support team who know you, who can back you and who can guide you through any pain or intense sensations by re-focusing these sensations as positive and productive will help you stay on track.
3. Use your breath: when you breathe deeply into your belly and focus on your breath it can benefit you in many ways. It helps relax you in mind and body and aids in the release of the birthing hormones essential for labour. It helps oxygenate your uterus and its muscles so that it can function efficiently and effectively. It helps your baby remain relaxed and oxygenated and above all breathing gives you something concrete to focus on during contractions. Breathing and breathing through discomfort or pain is a vital tool to have in your birthing toolkit.
4. Move your body: Feeling discomfort during contractions is your body and baby communicating with you. Use the sensation to move into a more comfortable position, maybe you need to get up and moving, maybe you need to move into a side-lying position. Be guided by your body and your baby and follow your instincts as to what feels right for you. Rest in early labour and use active birth positions for active labour is the usual recommendation but you do ‘you’ and follow what feels right for you at the time.
5. Massage: Have your partner or support person help you relax through massage. The more relaxed you are, the more you can move through the strong sensations of labour and the more of those helpful birth hormones will release. You might like a strong massage on your lower back, or lay on your side and have your hips, buttocks and the side of your thigh massaged. Or you might like a more subtle light touch massage just with fingertips stroking your hair, your shoulders, belly or face. Massage gives your partner a purpose, helps you relax, connects you both by touch and in general feels downright amazing so why not!
For more tips, techniques and tools for both you and your partner to use in labour & birth, join our next Birth Boot Camp 2 Day Workshop – July 26 & Aug 9 at Grange Community Hall, Newmarket.