Pregnancy is one of the most special and significant times in a woman’s life, but fear of labor pain can cast a dark shadow over the final trimester.
Everyone has heard the horror stories about long and difficult labors. These stories strike fear in the heart of every pregnant woman. That is why it is important to include labor pain coping strategies in your birth plan.
Labor Pain Coping Strategies
If you are fighting that fear, then you will be relieved to know that there are many natural ways to cope with possible labor pain. But before we cover specific methods, it is important to note that your first defense is your own perspective.
Pain is part of the process. It is important to accept that and not to focus on it. Pain levels vary from one birth to the next. Educating yourself on all possibilities and knowing your options in those situations is the best way to keep pain from controlling your birth experience.
Every TV show or movie depiction of labor shows the mother’s breathing. This is one area where they actually get it right. When we are in pain, we tend to hold our breath, but this can be dangerous for the baby and detrimental to your comfort level.
If you take a birth preparation class, the instructor will cover breathing techniques. There are also many great videos online demonstrating different deep breathing methods. Since you won’t know what works for you until you are in the moment, it helps to familiarize yourself with more than one technique. Some women even find it helpful to vocalize while exhaling.
If you are giving birth at a hospital, by default nurses will get you situated in a bed. That does not mean you have to stay in the bed. In fact, laboring on the back is one of the least intuitive positions.
Movement not only helps you to cope with labor pain, but it also helps your body to accelerate the labor process. With the attending nurse’s permission, you might find it helpful to walk, sway or even dance. You can also ask if the hospital has an exercise ball or birthing chair, which can help you to squat during labor.
If you are planning to have a water birth, then you have this coping mechanism covered. Even if you are not, many birthing suites offer showers or tubs because warm water can soothe sore muscles. When immersion is not an option, you can still enjoy the benefits of heat by having your partner or nurse apply a warm compress to your lower back.
Physical touch is a basic human need. That does not change during labor. Even if you are not typically a physically affectionate person, you may find touch comforting while giving birth. A gesture as simple as holding someone’s hand can help you to feel supported and anchored. If your labor is prolonged, consider asking your partner to massage your back.
Putting Labor Pain in Its Place
While some level of labor pain is inevitable during birth, you should not go in expecting the pain to be intolerable. Believe in yourself. Focus on the pain’s reward. You have carried and nurtured your baby for many months. The pain will pass, but the pride and joy of motherhood will be with you forever.
Related Content: 6 Out of Bed Laboring Positions
Despite the prevalence of lying in a hospital bed during labor, the pain of labor can be exacerbated by lying down. When it comes to labor planning, be sure that you are able to move as you need to help reduce your pain and anxiety and help your labor progress.