The biggest fear of new mothers about to give birth is that of PAIN. That it is undeniable and the worst you will ever feel. That you cannot make it without an epidural or drugs.
I politely disagree.
YES there is what some consider to be pain. YES it is hard. But you ALSO have endorphins and pain relief options during labor heavy on your side. You have prepared with classes and your exercises. It is a pain that you can work with and help. So you have DIVINE NATURE on your side.
DON’T believe that you can’t get through your labor. Because once you do, you won’t be able to do it naturally.
So KNOW or at least BELIEVE that all you have done up until now is so you can reach across that finish line and hold your baby.
What causes my pain?
Okay, so this is easy to explain. Your body is opening up the widest it ever has before. Things are stretching, your cervix is moving from nearly shut to 10cm wide in a very short time, pressure is building. Blood vessels may be rupturing, tissue is tearing, do I need to go on?
The correct question should be: What increases my pain? This is what laboring mothers SHOULD be considering as they go through their labor.
- Laying on your back. This is one of the WORST things you can do. Back laying puts greater stress on your body and the baby. Your baby is trying to come down and out, not sideways. Your heavy uterus will put pressure on things trying to relax and open up.
- Tension. Many mothers will freeze up and just grit their teeth waiting for a contraction to pass, not realizing that their tension is increasing their pain levels.
- Hyperventilating. Panicking is the beginning of a spiraling cycle to intervention because it increases stress hormones that fight against your bodies natural birthing hormones and endorphins trying to do their job.
One thing to prove my point –> If you are in the middle of a contraction, try doing one of those three things and you’ll change your mind immediately about doing it again. Sometimes we have to feel the worse of it in order to know that the good efforts we’re producing are effective or not.
Pain Relief Options During Labor
So you can’t try to get fully comfortable by laying on your back, and it’s hard to fight the tension and breathing quickly. But you can do many things to help.
Sleep – Some women are able to sleep in between their contractions, or even through them in early stages of labor. I was never able to do this, but it works well for some ladies. Those that have learned how to fully relax are able to put themselves in a bit of a hypnotic state that allows them to sleep. (See this hypnobirthing kit here for added benefit.) If you’ve woken up in the middle of the night with labor, it’s best if you simply try to get more sleep at first because you’re likely not going to get any more for a few weeks.
Abdominal Breathing – There are two ways to breathe, really; the kind that is deep into our bellies, or high in our chest that raises our shoulders a little bit. You want the DEEP abdominal breathing. In order to take deep breaths, your abs have to relax fully in order to make room for the expansion downward. When you breathe upwards, your muscles are contracted and your lungs can’t expand downward. Contracted muscles around our bellies puts greater pressure on what’s already pressurized down there. MAKE SURE that you take SLOW deeps breaths during your contractions. You may have to think about it at first because your mind may be going a mile a minute–I know mine was. But it will get better oxygen to your baby and you won’t get the tingling in your hands and feet either from increased carbon dioxide in your blood as well.
Urinating – A full bladder adds to sharp pains already. Use the restroom often during your labor to allow more room for that baby to drop through.
Walking – The BEST thing because walking INCREASES the speed of your labor and helps your cervix dilate faster while synchronously providing relief. Yes, getting up in order to start walking may feel like a mountain of movement you don’t have the energy for. But you DO have the energy….and once you get going you won’t even want to sit back down for your nurse to check you periodically.
Anything but Back Lying – Preferably, it’s best to be sitting up if you’re in later stages of labor and walking isn’t an option anymore because you may start pushing soon. You can be squatting, propped up in bed, on a birthing ball, etc. It is OKAY to be side-lying with your legs split a bit. There isn’t any pressure on the baby our your organs this way. But I never liked it because it always felt like I was trying to close my pelvis by doing so, which went against my natural feelings of opening up. But if it works well for you, go ahead, just rotate and change positions frequently to further along your labor.
Massage – Put that husband to work. You have a bunch of items you’ve brought that will help you. Have him rub your back, belly, shoulders, legs, whatever needs some help.
Water – Some hospitals have tubs with jets that you can enjoy during your labor. The movement of water is a great pain relieving option, which is why many mothers have water births. Or you can soak in the tub or shower in your room. Before I head to the hospital I always shower, squatting down to let the hot water just run across my back and pelvis. It really helps.
Relax – This is the KEY to getting through your labor. Your deep breathing is a big help here as well, allowing your muscles to let go. I have a series of posts all about relaxation that you can find starting with Progressive Muscles Relaxation Steps.
Essential Oils – Many herbs have been shown to promote relaxation, reduce our stress levels, and also act as great pain relievers when inhaled or used topically. Learn more about them here.
Vitamin D – Eating certain foods and getting out in the sun can also help. See HERE.
Nitrous Oxide – Also known as the dentist’s laughing gas, this is able to hep ou mentally distance yourself from your pain. It’s not available everywhere, so check here if you want to learn more.
You may not be able to or choose not to do some of these options. But if anything, relaxing is your number one pain relief option during labor. If you don’t want to try and relax, you may as well call the doctor in for an epidural because it will be quite difficult without doing so.
Everyone’s body is different, and everyone’s situation is different. No one individual, even me, can dictate how you should undergo pain relief options during your labor. If you choose to have assistance with pain medication or epidurals, that is COMPLETELY your choice, and I do not condone anyone choosing to do so.
But I promise that you won’t regret going through some pain in order to have the birth you want. I can also tell you it gets easier! But you have to have a starting point. You WILL get through this, and you WILL have success in what you’re trying to do. Heaven and earth are with you on that. Simply KNOW that you can and will.
What has worked for you mother’s out there, thinking back on your own experiences? I may have missed something that was very beneficial to you during your labor. I’m here for any questions you may have as well.