For many pregnant moms, the idea of having a natural birth can be unnerving. As a continuum of my last article I am going to expand on four more useful tools you can use to help make childbirth more manageable.
Freedom to Move During Labour
Every woman in labour should be entitled to move freely. Having any type of restraint can add stress and anxiety, which means you are putting unnecessary stress onto you and the baby.
There may be specific reasons why you need to be stationary; for example, in order to be monitored. If you do, make sure to at least lie on your side and keep changing sides. By doing so, you will alleviate pressure on your back. Because fetal monitoring can be intermittent, try to walk around, sit, get in the shower, squat or get into a birthing pool if that is available to you. Sitting on an exercise ball can be very comfortable in the early stages of labour.
In terms of helping decrease discomfort, different positions can either increase or decrease pain. For example, if you are lying on your back and your baby is positioned posteriorly (which your doctor or midwife can determine via leopold’s maneuver), you can have severe low back pain. The best thing to do is switch to being on all fours or going into the fetal position. These positions can really help reduce the discomfort.
Overall, you should be given the opportunity to explore. Allow your body to move in whichever position brings you most comfort.
Get in it! Wherever you choose to give birth, either in a hospital or at home, make sure you utilize water to help relax your body. Water can greatly reduce your discomfort and give you more comfort during active labour. According to a Cochrane Review, water immersion significantly benefits women in labour, particularly the first stage, which is the contractions prior to pushing. Being in water has shown to provide pain relief, relaxation, and comfort.
The article states:
“Water immersion during the first stage of labour significantly reduces epidural/spinal analgesia requirements and reported maternal pain, without adversely affecting labour duration, operative delivery rates, or neonatal wellbeing. Immersion in water during the second stage of labour increased women’s reported satisfaction with pushing.”
If you have not thought about doing a water birth, check with your hospital to see if they can provide a pool for you to use. Or if you are doing a home birth, you can rent pools at a very reasonable rate. If your hospital does not offer birth pools, or you are unsure of birthing in a pool, choose a birthing room with a shower as this can also provide relief during labour.
Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of medicine and has helped people all around the world with different concerns. During labour, it has been found that women may experience less pain and require less analgesic medication, according to a new study in The Clinical Journal of Pain. A large majority of women receiving acupuncture treatments during labour said they would want it again if they were going to have more children.
If you are afraid of needles, you can alternatively do acupressure points. To make acupressure more effective, use acupuncture seeds, which you simply stick onto your skin and press to simulate the acupuncture point. They are comfortable to use and all you need is to have someone show you where to stick them!
Homeopathic remedies have been used for over 300 years and are one of the safest and effective forms of medicine to help alleviate discomfort during labour – either contractions or low back pain. There are a variety of remedies that can be used so you should consult a professional before you start purchasing. For my patients, I provide a homeopathic birthing kit with descriptions of each remedy so either the doula or husband can give the remedy that best suits how you feel. In addition to helping alleviate pain, homeopathy is excellent for postpartum healing. I also prescribe homeopathy to women starting at 34 weeks to help prepare the body for the delivery.
I have now shared seven ways to help decrease pain and discomfort during labour. I hope these suggestions will bring relief for you or someone you share this with for their labour. In part three, I will be covering three more natural strategies to help reduce discomort during labour so stay tuned!
Cluett ER, Burns E. Immersion in water in labour and birth September 7 2014
The Clinical Journal of Pain (2003;19:187–91)
NESHEIM, B.-I. and KINGE, R. (2006), Performance of acupuncture as labor analgesia in the clinical setting. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 85: 441–443. doi: 10.1080/00016340500432523
Sedigheh HANTOUSHZADEH, Navid ALHUSSEINI and Amir Hussein LEBASCHI. The effects of acupuncture during labour on nulliparous women: A randomised controlled trial. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Volume 47, Issue 1, pages 26–30, February 2007.
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