How to Manage Labor Pain
Women have an inner strength, and innate knowledge of how to give birth. There are many ways to stay relaxed and calm during labor and the birthing process. Because all women experience labor differently, we will assist with whatever options you choose for the pain and discomfort.
What to Consider for Labor Pain Management
Different circumstances will affect how you manage your labor and birth. They include:
- Your level of pain tolerance
- Your beliefs and attitudes about birth
- The size and position of the baby
- Your position during labor
- How the people around you provide support
- Your emotional state during labor
- The strength and frequency of uterine contractions
- Any prior birth experiences
Analgesics and Anesthetics for Pain Management
Analgesics are medicines to ease anxiety and discomfort. They “take the edge off” the pain. Anesthetics decrease sensation and may affect muscle movement. The type and amount of pain medicine you receive is based on your wishes, the medical condition of you and your baby, and your doctor’s orders.
Epidural anesthesia decreases the sensation of pain in your lower body while allowing you to remain conscious. It is given during labor and continues through the birth. A nurse anesthetist is available 24 hours a day to administer your epidural when a doctor orders it.
Physical and Emotional Comfort
While it may become difficult to stay calm and relaxed during labor, there are ways to manage through it. Research and practice breathing techniques for the early stages of labor, transition breathing, and the second stage of labor. Consider attending a child birthing class to help mentally and physically prepare. You can also change positions often, walk or rock when possible, and keep your bladder empty. Ask those around you to provide massage, warm or cool packs, low back counter-pressure, calming scents, ice chips, gentle touches, words of encouragement or relaxing music.
Your Labor, Your Support Team
In addition to having a Community obstetrician (or OB), you may also choose to have Midwives and Doulas for support during birth. Certified midwives have special training in pregnancy and delivery, and are able to support your personal preferences during the process. Doulas are labor support partners trained in physical and emotional support during birth. They can help you manage labor, events leading up to the hospital visit, and continued support after birth. Both midwives and doulas are a great option for a positive labor experience.
Having a baby is challenging but there are ways to manage through it. Talk to your partner and Community Health Physician about labor and pain management options. And remember, it will all be worth it when you take your newborn baby home.