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8 Ways to Minimize Labor and Delivery Pain

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The newest member of your family is on the way and you are eagerly anticipating the day that you deliver your new baby boy or girl into the world.

As eager as you are for the day that your baby will arrive, you may also be experiencing some anxiety regarding the birthing process and any pain that you may have to go through.

This is completely normal and it is important to remember that you are not alone.

Many women, whether they have previously experienced childbirth or not, wonder how they are going to manage the pain associated with labor and childbirth.

Understanding what options you have available to you and how to minimize your pain during childbirth will help you to better prepare for the event.

Knowing your pain relief options and what to expect during your labor and delivery can also be a relief in and of itself, reducing any labor anxiety that you may be experiencing and taking the “unknown” out of the equation.

Here we will discuss some ways in which you can prepare your body for the birth of your child and some common pain relief options that you may want to discuss with your doctor before the big day arrives so you are fully aware of all your options.

Don’t worry about writing these down because I’ve created a downloadable and printable PDF checklist that you use to remember them all.

There will be a link to the checklist below the video.

Ok let’s get started:

1. Prepare Your Body for Childbirth with Fast and Easy Exercises

One of the best ways to reduce any pain you may experience during childbirth is to prepare your body for the labor and delivery process. There are exercises that you can perform to assist your body in this preparation.

Every woman is different, as is every pregnancy. Because of this, you should check with your doctor prior to starting any exercise program while you are pregnant.

If your doctor gives you the green light, the following exercises can help you prepare your body for the big day.

Kegel Exercise –

This exercise is intended to help tone the pelvic floor muscles. By toning the muscles that support the pelvic organs, you can help decrease a great deal of the common discomforts of late pregnancy, alleviate hemorrhoids and incontinence, and reduce pain during childbirth. 

To perform Kegel exercises, contract your pelvic floor muscles and hold the position for five seconds.

After five seconds, relax the muscle. Try to work up to holding for 10 sec.

Repeat the process 10 times. You can do this four to six times per day to strengthen these muscles and prepare your body for the birth of your child.

If you aren’t sure how to contract your pelvic floor muscle, try to find the muscle while you are using the bathroom.

During urination, try to stop the flow of the urine midstream without the use of your abdominal, buttock or thigh muscles.

When you are able to start and stop urination at will without the assistance of these other muscles, you are exercising your pelvic floor muscle correctly.

This exercise can help you locate this muscle so you know exactly which muscle you should be working on when you perform this exercise.

The nice thing about this exercise is that you can perform sitting in your car or at your desk or lying flat on your back.

Tailor Sitting:

This exercise will help you strengthen and stretch the muscles in your thighs, pelvis, and your back.

It also helps you keep your pelvic joints flexible, which will help greatly during the birthing process.
To perform this exercise, sit on the floor with the bottoms of your feet touching or if more comfortable with your feet as close to you as possible while crossing your ankles.

Drop your knees to the side to a comfortable position with your back straight.

Many people refer to this as the “butterfly” position. Once in position, press your knees gently to the floor using your elbows.

Hold the position for 10 seconds and repeat the stretch 10 times.

You can perform this exercise one to three times per day.

Perineal Massage –

As your due date draws near, you may want to begin performing perineal massage. This exercise involves gently massaging your perineal area (the area located between your anus and vagina).

By massaging this area regularly, you can reduce the risk of vaginal tears and may even be able to eliminate the need for an episiotomy.

To perform this massage, prop yourself up in bed with your knees bent and relax after you have washed your hands and trimmed your nails.

Next, lubricate your thumbs with almond or olive oil. Do not use mineral oil, petroleum jelly or baby oil.

Once you have properly lubricated your thumbs, place them about 1 inch inside of your vaginal area, resting your hands on your buttocks.

Press down on the vaginal wall, toward the anus, and hold your thumbs in position until you feel a slight burning sensation. Once you feel the area beginning to stretch, start massaging with circular or “U” shaped movements.

Perform this massage daily for approximately 10 to 15 minutes per day during the second half of your third trimester.

Turning a Breech Baby –

If the big day is drawing near and your baby has not yet moved into the proper position, you may be facing a breech delivery.

Ideally, you should try to get your baby into position between 34 and 37 weeks gestation.

After 37 weeks, it is harder to get your baby to turn if the little one’s head isn’t already in position.

To turn a breech baby, you can try a number of methods. Focusing on your posture is a great way to help your baby get into position. To help improve posture, sit on a birthing ball and work on your balance and sitting straight for approximately 20 to 30 minutes per day.

In addition to performing posture exercises, you can also try other natural methods, such as playing music near where you want the baby’s head to be or applying a bag of frozen vegetables toward the top of your uterus and a warm water bottle near the bottom.

The hot/cold method will encourage your little one to flip around and change positions.

The best position to turn a breech baby is to get on all fours and bring your knees directly beneath your hips. and your hands resting beneath your shoulders.

From this position try to touch your chest to the floor, bend your elbows so that you can bring your arms down.

Relax and try to stay in this position for 20 minutes or as long as comfortable. Try to practice this 3 times a day.

Acupuncture is another method that is used to turn a breech baby with considerable success.

External Cephalic Version is another method for turning a breech baby but I suggest  having an ultrasound first to make sure there are not other medical reasons for the baby to be in the breech position.

2. Enroll in a Prenatal Yoga Class

Prenatal yoga classes have become increasingly popular in recent years.

Yoga is a great way to stay in shape during pregnancy and can help you learn to connect your body and mind.

Enrolling in such a class will help keep you limber and toned and can improve your circulation as well.

One of the first things you will learn in yoga class is how to breathe. The breathing technique used in yoga, known as ujjayi, teaches you to take air slowly in through your nose and exhale while making an H sound .

The sound is like the wind through the trees. This breathing technique will help prepare you for labor and will help you to remain calm once the big day arrives.

Staying calm during labor is very important. When you are in pain or become afraid, your body undergoes a chemical reaction. Generally the body will produce adrenalin and may reduce the amount of oxytocin that is released when you begin to “tighten up” due to fear or pain.

Oxytocin is a hormone that causes your labor to progress. If your body reduces the amount of oxytocin that is being released, the progression of your labor may be delayed.

The breathing techniques that you learn during yoga class will teach you to fight the urge to tighten up when you feel a contraction coming on and will show you how to stay relaxed, which will actually help your labor progress more quickly and can reduce any pain you may experience.

3. Enroll in a Lamaze Class

If you’re going to be enrolling in a prenatal yoga class, you may be wondering what benefits Lamaze can offer since you will learn breathing techniques in your yoga class.

The truth is that Lamaze is far from being a mere breathing class.

Lamaze actually helps women feel more confident in their ability to give birth. The goal of Lamaze is to empower women by helping them learn about the birthing process in detail.

The concept is that women will be better able to make informed decisions regarding their labor and delivery when they are properly educated. Rather than just “going through” labor, you can learn to become an active participant in your labor with the help of a Lamaze instructor.

Lamaze will also help you learn how to understand any pain that you may experience during labor. This class will teach you how to understand and work with any pain that you encounter.

For example, if you are experiencing pain in a specific area, the lessons you learn in Lamaze will teach you how to better position your body to assist the birthing process and reduce the amount of pain that you experience.

Some women think that Lamaze is only for women who plan on delivering naturally. The truth is that Lamaze can be used by all expectant women, whether they plan on using pain medication or not.

While Lamaze can definitely help you a great deal if you are planning on a natural childbirth, do not overlook this method if you are planning on using pain relief or an epidural.

4. Move Around

When you think about labor and delivery, you may imagine yourself lying in bed until your little one arrives.

Some women can’t imagine getting up and moving around during the midst of labor. The truth is that movement can actually help you a great deal during the birthing process.

Not only can walking, changing positions, or rolling on a birthing ball alleviate pain during childbirth, but it can also help your labor progress. When you are up and moving, gravity works for you by helping the baby move down and through the pelvis.

While you may be limited in your movements if you are hooked up to an IV or a fetal monitor, you may still be able to utilize a birthing ball or you can try standing or squatting to help your labor progress.

If you remain active during the labor process, you can significantly reduce any pain you may encounter.

5. Soothe Your Body with Warm Water

Many women understand the benefits of a water birth. You do not have to actually give birth in water, however, to experience the benefits that water has to offer during the labor process.

Warm water has been known to work miracles for those looking for relief from labor pain.

If your birthing unit offers a tub, don’t be afraid to soak in it. If no tub is available, don’t underestimate the benefits of a warm shower. The stream of hot water can keep you relaxed and relieve your tired muscles.

Just make sure you don’t get into the water too early. If you are in very early labor, water may slow things down.

Wait until you are 5 centimeters dilated before turning to warm water for pain relief.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for an Epidural

Epidurals have been the topic of much controversy when it comes to labor and delivery. If you have heard horror stories about prolonged labor or emergency caesareans don’t worry.

The truth is that your chance of a c-section does not increase when you have an epidural and your labor, if it is prolonged, will likely only be prolonged by about one hour.

Epidurals have been used to help many women through the labor and delivery process.

It helped me through some of my births. If you do encounter pain during labor and you feel as though it is just too much for you to take, don’t be afraid to ask for an epidural.

Also do not worry about missing the “window” of opportunity to receive this pain relief.

Chances are that unless your baby is crowning, your doctor will be able to administer medication.

If you are concerned about limited mobility due to an epidural, you may want to discuss a “walking” epidural with your doctor. This type of epidural can reduce your pain without any loss of sensation or reducing your ability to move.

It is important to discuss your epidural options with your doctor prior to your due date. An epidural can only be administered by an anesthesiologist so proper preparations will need to be made.

7. Know Your Pain Relief Options

If you do not want an epidural, or if for some reason you are unable to have one, you may be able to opt for other pain relief medications, such as analgesics.

It is important to discuss pain relief options with your doctor in advance so you know exactly what is and what is not available to you. When discussing your pain relief options with your physician, be sure to consider these different pain control methods.

Analgesics

These medications include both opioid and non-opioid analgesics and are delivered via an IV or are injected directly into your muscle. Unlike an epidural, however, analgesic pain medications may make you feel drowsy or loopy.

The meds may also make your baby groggy, so if you are almost at the stage where you are ready to push, you may want to try to avoid the use of such medications.

If, however, you still need to dilate and you are feeling quite a bit of discomfort, you can turn to such medications to alleviate any pain you may be feeling.

The pain relief may also help you rest more between contractions, making the labor process easier on you.

Analgesics are a very popular choice for women who are experiencing a prolonged labor and need help taking the edge off of the pain.

Tranquilizers

If you are experiencing severe anxiety during labor, you may benefit from the use of a tranquilizer.

This is because stress can actually cause your labor to slow due to the way your body chemically reacts to extreme stress.

If your anxiety is interfering with your ability to deliver, you may be able to benefit from a tranquilizer.

However, it is important to note that tranquilizers can make you drowsy and many doctors prefer to stay away from this type of medication during childbirth.

Ideally, if you can control your anxiety using natural techniques, you should try to do so before opting for a tranquilizer.

If, however, you find that natural techniques aren’t helping, you may want to discuss a tranquilizer with your doctor.

Gas

Some women prefer to opt for gas to take the edge off the pain. Gas is a rapid-acting pain reliever that is inhaled through a mask. The availability of gas, however, largely depends on where you live.

While gas is very common in the United Kingdom and Canada, there are fewer than a handful of hospitals that make it available in the United States.

Remember, always consult with your doctor during the last weeks of your pregnancy if you plan on having pain medication during labor.

Your doctor will be able to discuss your pain relief options with you in detail and will help you to better understand the pros and cons of each.

The types of pain relief available to you will vary depending on the hospital you are delivering at and the circumstances of your labor.

Make sure you fully understand the benefits and potential drawbacks of each pain relief option that is offered to you prior to making a decision as to which pain relief method is best for you.

8. Prepare for Pain Relief after Childbirth

Right now your main concern may be eliminating pain during the labor and delivery process. You should, however, also prepare for any pain you may encounter after the birth of your child.

Whether you are delivering vaginally or via cesarean, you will need to take measures to stay on top of any pain and minimize your discomfort.

If you deliver vaginally and undergo an episiotomy or have a vaginal tear during delivery, the wound may be tender and sore for a few weeks.

You can promote healing of any wounds by cooling the area with an ice pack or by using a witch hazel pad.

If you experience burning during urination, pour warm water over your vaginal area while urinating. You can also press a clean pad firmly against your wound when you are having a bowel movement.

Be sure to keep the area clean by using a squirt bottle for rinsing after using the toilet.

When sitting, be sure to sit down carefully. If you find that sitting is uncomfortable, be sure to sit on a pillow or a padded ring, known as a donut.

If you deliver via cesarean, you may find that it is painful to move. It is important to remember that the sooner you get your body moving after surgery, the more quickly your recovery will progress.

If you are prescribed opiates for post-delivery pain, be sure that you take them as prescribed. It is important to take them according to the schedule provided by your doctor.

If you miss a dose or take a dose late, you will have to play “catch-up” to regain control of the pain. Staying on top of the pain is easier when you take your prescription medications as scheduled by your doctor.

If you do take opiates for pain relief, it is important to take a stool softener as well. After delivery, it is common to become constipated and for hemorrhoids to flare up.

Opiates can worsen constipation. Do not be afraid to ask your doctor to prescribe a stool softener or have someone pick up an over-the-counter brand for you to use.

You’re in Control

When it comes to pain during the labor and delivery process, there is one thing you need to remember at all times. You are in control of the situation.

By preparing properly beforehand, you can minimize any pain or discomfort you may experience during and after childbirth. Be sure to discuss your pain relief options with your doctor so you know exactly what your options are before the big day arrives.

By preparing your body and your mind prior to going into labor, you will be able to empower yourself to manage your pain effectively.

I hope you enjoyed my tips and if you have any of your own, please share them in the comments below. For more fun information about your pregnancy and childbirth please subscribe and visit us at pregnancychat.com

Thanks for Watching.

 
 
 

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