The amount of pain you feel during labour, what that pain feels like, and how to cope with it successfully are things that many a pregnant mum worries about as her due date approaches. It’s very difficult to predict how your labour will progress, as every birth story is unique (and special). Likewise, until you are actually going through labour, you won’t know what kind of pain you’ll experience.
10 ways to cope with labour pain during childbirth
But you can prepare yourself for the pain by learning some tried-and-true techniques for managing the pain. Here are 10 ways to cope with labour pain, which may help you to feel more confident and comfortable with what your body is going through during childbirth.
1. Keep moving. Particularly in the early stages of labour, when your contractions are further apart, walking around can help your labour to progress and can also help to ease your aches and pains.
2. Keep breathing. Many women start holding their breath when a contraction hits, or breathe shallowly when they’re in the midst of a contraction. Try to see your breathing as the pathway through your contractions, and concentrate on breathing as you experience each contraction, focusing on your breaths in and out while the sensations change, fade, and begin again.
3. Try warm water. Getting into a warm bath, standing under a warm shower, or immersing yourself in a birthing pool are all soothing, calming, relaxing places to help ease the pain of labour, particularly if you have “back labour”. A well-directed stream of water from the shower nozzle can work wonders on sore spots.
4. Get hands-on with a massage. Having someone rub your back, lower back, and hips during labour helps stimulate your body to release endorphins. Just make sure that any aromatherapy oils you’re using have been cleared with your LMC first, as some essential oils aren’t suitable for use in pregnancy.
5. Change positions. In the movies, mums always seem to give birth on their backs with their knees in the air — but there are many labouring positions which can help you to feel more in control and better handle the pain. Try labouring on your hands and knees, squatting, leaning over the bed, kneeling over a balance ball or a pile of pillows, and any other position you feel comfortable in (and your midwife deems safe).
6. Heat things up with a wheat pack. A warm wheat pack or a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel can help to relax your aching, tense muscles and provide relief to your back, tummy, or groin.
7. Visualise. Focusing on something that makes you feel calm and centred, like an inspirational image, a special object, your partner’s face, song lyrics, a mantra, a powerful quote, or something else that is meaningful to you can help you to remain calm and focused during contractions.
8. Distract yourself. To try to take your mind off of the pain, do something else, like listen to music, watch TV or a movie, play a game on your phone, do a crossword or Sudoku puzzle, or just pace up and down the hallway. Keeping your mind preoccupied can help keep the pain in perspective, so that as your contractions increase in intensity, you are calmer and able to ease into the later stages of labour feeling less tense.
9. Get your groove on. Curate a special “labour playlist” of songs that inspire, calm, and soothe you. You might want music that is a bit more upbeat and “dancey” during the early stages of labour, and music that is calmer and helps you focus as contractions intensify. Music can help encourage you to keep moving when you’re labouring, can help you to focus your breathing to the rhythm of the songs, provides a gentle distraction, and gives you something to hone in on during intense contractions. And it just makes you feel good!
10. Remember that the pain WILL end. One of the biggest fears that labouring women have is that they won’t be able to handle the pain of childbirth. When your baby is born, the pain will be over, just like that. The pain of labour is productive, and it is bringing you closer to your baby. Every contraction brings your baby that much closer to being in your arms. You can do it!
For beautiful pregnancy clothing, including comfy maternity pyjamas that are perfect for wearing during labour, check out Breastmates Maternity Clothes.
This gorgeous image courtesy of Nykie Grove-Eades at Mistral Photography (www.mistralphotography.co.nz).