Having a baby is hard work, and part of that work is getting through the pain. But don't panic. There are more ways than ever to manage that pain, and you don't have to choose just one. You don't know what's going to work until you're in it, and what helps a woman at one point can change five minutes later.
That's why it's important to keep an open mind and do your research. So take a deep breath (good practice for later) and prepare to enter the wide world of pain management. Before days of delivery, read these things on HappyMom.Life for your best mental labor prep.
The most important thing you can relax during labor is your mind. The idea is simple -- when you fear pain, you tense up, which makes the pain worse, which makes you tense up more.
To stay relaxed, it's crucial to pay attention to your breathing, the same way you do when you're lifting weights. Whether you're hee-ing or haa-ing, panting or deep inhaling, as long as you're focusing on your breath and releasing it, you'll find some relief. And don't feel inhibited about making strange loud noises.
Walking, swaying, changing positions, and rolling on a birthing ball can not only ease the pain but can help your labor progress by using the force of gravity to your advantage and encouraging the movement and rotation of the baby down through the pelvic canal. In a hospital setting, being hooked up to fetal monitors, IVs, and pain medicine can limit your walking, but you can still try positions like hands and knees in the bed or standing, squatting, or sitting by the side of the bed.
Warm water can work wonders for diminishing labor pain. It felt absolutely amazing and so soothing to step into this 100 degrees F. water at the birthing center.
Don't underestimate the power of the shower either -- the stream of hot water will not only keep you relaxed but will massage you too. There are no hard-and-fast rules, but some doctors or midwives may caution you against getting in the water in early labor (under 4 centimeters) for fear it'll slow things down.
Massage may be a bit of an understatement when it comes to the kind of pressure most women need for relief during labor. Even if you don't find that counter pressure reduces the pain, having your partner rub your feet or massage your hands or temples can distract you, relax you, and generally make you feel cared for, which is a major morale boost.
Over the last 10 years, the epidural has changed dramatically. The medicine is no longer delivered through one hefty shot that leaves you completely numb. Instead, it's given via a slow continuous drip so you can't run out, and you should feel enough pressure to be able to push. In fact, most hospitals now use patient-controlled epidural anesthesia, which keeps the baseline epidural low but allows you to press a button for more if you need it.
Spinal and Combined Spinal-Epidural
Epidurals can be very effective, but they take a good 10 to 25 minutes to work. The spinal, which goes into a slightly lower space in your back, works within seconds. But unlike the epidural, which you get continuously, the spinal is a single injection that is effective for about 45 minutes. Eighty to 90 percent of elective c-sections are done with spinals, and sometimes doctors will choose to use a spinal or spinal-epidural combo for women who are very far along in labor and desperate for fast relief.
Photo Credit: Pinterest
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