Labor and pain management

Giuditta Tornetta, doula, lactation educator, hypnotherapist and author of Joy in Birthing, shares some ways to manage pain during labor.

Almost every mother I encounter in my practice, seems to have the same concerns when it comes to pain during labor. Take comfort in knowing you are not alone. In modern life the concepts that a natural, joyful birth is a sacred ritual has been forgotten, but we can remember and embrace the miraculous.

Q. I want to experience a natural childbirth, how will I get pain relief without drugs?
There are many safe and very effective forms of pain relief during labor, here are some helpful hints:

Baths and showers
A great way to relax during labor is soaking in a tub or lingering in the shower. If your water has broken the shower is safest. Numerous studies have shown that hydrotherapy, when used correctly during labor, is safe, reduces pain, and frequently speeds labor.

Massage, music and change of position
Touch conveys a kind, caring, and comforting message to the laboring woman. Make sure you add massage oil to your birthing bag, and practice before labor so your partner will know what kind of touch you like. Changing your position usually helps to relieve pressure. Try leaning against your partner or a wall, walking and rocking your pelvis. You could ask your partner to play certain music that you find soothing. If you are experiencing back labor, get on your hands and knees, or use a birthing ball.

You could diffuse the pain by making sounds, moaning, or groaning. I have found that an ancient Hindu sound, the sound Ah, works wonders as a way of releasing tension.

Visualization and hypnosis
Some women find relief through the technique of visualization. Creating mental pictures is a proven way of calming fears and reducing pain. Hypnosis can be very helpful. Get a self-hypnosis tape, there are many on the market listen to it before labor and learn how to visualize a natural, painless childbirth.

Q. I am afraid I will not be able to handle the pain, how will drugs affect me?
Even though some drugs offer a considerable amount of pain relief, they can detract from the overall birthing experience. Narcotics, sedatives, gas and oxygen can make you feel drowsy, lightheaded and even give birth without realizing it. Some women enjoy the drifting sensation, whereas others feel a distinct lack of control. Most drugs prevent you from moving around and squatting to push your baby out. Q: If I hire a Doula will she have a problem with my desire for an epidural?
I cannot speak for all doulas, but I know that a doula’s role is to support whatever decision you make. If your pain is unbearable and you are extremely anxious, the excessive tension could affect the uterus and further slow down labor. Sedatives and tranquilizers will sedate your baby and affect its ability to suckle and respond to you immediately after birth. Narcotics are known to depress its respiration and suckling ability. So, all things considered, an epidural is the best.


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