Six Way To Manage The Pain Of Labour

As the birth of your baby approaches it’s common for your thoughts to focus on the impending labor. For first time mothers the prospect of labor pains can be frightening, it is the unknown and often having listened to tales of other labor stories (women love to share!) for the past nine months, you’ve built up an expectation and image that probably harks back to Victorian times! However, the reality does differ from the apprehension as there are many effective ways in which to alleviate labor pain, placing the control back squarely in your quivering hands and helping you arrive at a place of confidence as you head into the home stretch. Let’s take a look at the various pain-relieving options available to you so that you can make an informed choice well in advance of your labor day!

#1: The Epidural

For the woman who wants to feel absolutely nothing throughout their labor, the epidural is the superhero of pain relief, delivering as close to nothing as possible. With all pain relief options there are advantages and disadvantages, having a small tube inserted into the back where they deliver the local anaesthetic can be an uncomfortable process, however, once it takes it effect it stops the pain messages passing from the womb to the brain. Many women even sleep through labor after having an epidural administered. But be prepared if you do have an epidural, you will more than likely nee
d intervention in which to deliver your baby. If the epidural is still in effect you won’t feel your contractions or the urge to push. This can result in interventions such as the use of forceps or a suction device to assist in the delivery.

#2. Pain Relieving Injections

A popular option for many laboring women is an intramuscular injection of a painkilling medication such as pethidine or diamorphine. Both of these drugs reduce the pain of contractions and work to relax, even sedate you, to some extent. As they are medications they can produce side effects including sedation and nausea and if given close to delivery they may affect the baby’s breathing, making the baby drowsy on delivery. If you intend to breastfeed immediately after birth, you may want to weight the advantages and disadvantage of these medications as they can affect the baby’s ability to feed.

#3: TENS Machine

A popular method of pain relief the TENS machine can be used for a variety of conditions such as chronic pain conditions including arthritis and within sporting communities to relieve pain of muscular injuries, the TENS machine is a multi-tasking highly effective method of pain relief. And more importantly it is side effect free, making it an ideal choice for the woman who wants natural pain relief and to experience a natural labor. The Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machine is extremely easy to use, simply requiring you to tape small electrodes on to your back and administer the currents as and when you feel you need them. The currents that are released encourage your body to produce endorphins which are the body’s own natural painkillers, interrupting the pain signals to the brain.

#4: Gas & Air

The administration of Gas & Air throughout labor simply delivers a pain relieving blend of nitrous oxide and oxygen which doesn’t necessarily relieve the pain but most certainly helps you to relax, even enabling you to mentally disassociate yourself from it. Inhaled through a mouthpiece as the contraction begins, and all being well, will help you to zone out as the contraction reaches its peak. It may make some women sleepy or nauseous but is completely safe for the baby and won’t affect the baby on delivery.

#5. The Water Birth

Increasingly popular the water birth is another option to consider in your quest for the right pain relief option for you. As the warmth and buoyancy of the water encourages the mother to relax and keep mobile, it offers a natural way to distance yourself from the pain of labor. Most commonly used by women who choose a home birth, they are however now made available to laboring women at most maternity hospitals. If this is an option you would like to investigate, we do recommend that you contact your maternity hospital to ensure that they offer this facility.

#6: Relaxation Aids

Relaxation is the key to managing the pain of labor, true relaxation supports your body to accept the experience more freely, as a frightened mind and tensed body will keep your muscles tight and your fear heightened. Aromatherapy, massage, hypnotherapy and meditation often in combination with a more formal type of pain relief can complement each other beautifully to create the optimal pain relief experience as you labor.

Your labor is as individual an experience as you are a person, and in the days after baby has arrived, when the infinitely more overwhelming fact of holding your new born baby in your arms sinks in, you will wonder what all the fear and apprehension was for. Because even though there are many old wives’ tales when it comes to labor the truest of all, is that once your baby has arrived, the pain instantly disappears and you know deep down you would do it all over again!

22nd Mar 2018

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