Talk about labor and it reminds you of the screams of the mother, the acute pain, and the painful process. But it is not the same for all. Though birthing naturally does end up with push exhilarations from the doctor and the screams, it is not always. In the present time anesthesia, is administered for subduing the pain. Studies, however, indicate that giving anesthesia can end up in complications as well.
Pain in labor is inevitable, but there are ways to deal with pain management during labor. If you are scared of giving birth, you will be even more interested to know how to cope with labor pains. Before knowing the techniques, it is important to understand the signs that a pregnant lady needs to know when she is in labor. This is important since many false alarms are misinterpreted as labor problems.
Signs That A Pregnant Woman Is In Labor
No one knows when labor will start, there is no set time for the same. It is a mysterious process and comes with different experiences for each pregnant woman. Every mom to be should be aware of signs of false labor pain. While some women show labor signs a few hours before, some show weeks before as well. According to a source, some common signs which indicate that the pregnant woman is going into labor are:
- Some women start feeling nausea and loose stools while the body prepares for labor
- More pelvic pressure is noticed as the head of the baby starts descending. The term lightning is also used medically, and it usually occurs just before labor begins or a few weeks beforehand
- The cervix begins to ripen when more vaginal discharge occurs, which is usually pink, brown, or mucous-like in appearance
- Cramping is the most common sign of labor and is associated with tightening of the abdomen
- Contractions start in the lower abdomen and start moving towards the lower back. The duration and frequency of the contractions are rhythmic and regular. They even increase but still take a few hours or days to get to the delivery
- Another common way to know is when contractions are in a gap of five minutes or even less than an hour, this marks the start of the labor progression
Stages Of Labor And The Pain Associated With Each
Labor is a painful and long process. There are a few stages of labor, and every labor has some peculiar features. Let us discuss them in brief1:
- Cervical dilation- This is the first stage where the cervix is opened by o to 10 centimeters.
- During early labor, the cervix starts dilating to about five centimeters accompanied by regular contractions
- The contractions in the early labor stages are shorter and feel like cramps during menstrual pain
- Early labor does take a few hours or a day or two
- Active labor– The intensification of the contractions in the upper abdomen close to two to three minutes apart, is termed as active labor.
- The contractions in these are stronger and longer as well
- They even need more attention, changing position and breathing, and labor support as well
- The cervical dilation at this stage is generally one or more centimeters per hour
- But this can change as each woman is different
- This stage starts by pushing and ends till the baby is delivered
- This can vary for different women and depends on the effort by the mother, the position of the baby, and the interventions by anesthesia
- Delivery of the placenta– The third stage or the final stage is when the baby is out, and the placenta is delivered.
Related Reading: 7 Risks Of Inducing Labor You Must Know About
Ways To Manage Pain In Labor
Every woman needs to deal with the labor pain in different ways. It is important to consult the doctor and the anesthesiologist helps to decide the pain management methods that can be used. “The different pain management during labor” techniques are “pain management during labor without epidural”, “pain management during labor naturally”, “non-pharmacological pain management during labor”.
Let us understand this in brief:
One can choose to use medicines or choose the pain management technique or its combination depending on the progress of the labor.
- Pain management during labor without epidural– The pain of childbirth is very acute and cumbersome, yet many women want to experience the same as naturally as possible. This sounds nice but it is not easy and requires much preparation beforehand. There are many tools like massage balls, music, rocking, birthing ball, etc, that are alternatives to epidurals that can help in experiencing labor pains without getting numb from the waist to the lower parts of the body2
- Pain management during labor naturally– If a pregnant woman wants to naturally manage her labor pain, then techniques like changing positions, deep breathing, massage, essential oils, relaxation, etc. will be beneficial3
- Non-pharmacological pain management during labor – Involves measures that help alleviate pain naturally during labor and childbirth. Techniques like patterned breathing, visualization, hypnobirthing, relaxation can all help in increasing and producing endorphins that help in relieving pain4
What Are The Pain Management Options During Labor?
Whether pain management during labor is done without epidurals, naturally, or the non-pharmacological way, all techniques help manage pain during labor? Let us discuss the nine management techniques that are helpful:
- Patterned breathing– The breathing techniques offer comfort and focus while the labor progress. It relaxes the body and mind and helps in a smooth delivery. Taking short breaths is however not advisable as it does not help much. Patterned breathing boosts the oxygen flow to the baby, is good for contracting the uterus, and helps manage pain as well5
- Use a birthing ball– A birthing ball is a great tool to be used during labor. It helps in managing pain and can be used in many ways. Some of them are6:
- Rocking: The worst of contractions can be eased off by rocking motion, sitting on a soft birthing ball certainly helps in easing the pain management during labor
- Leaning on the ball on all fours: In case of experiencing terrible pain in the back, this position is recommended since it helps in taking the pressure off the back and helps in pushing the baby’s head into the cervix
- Gentle bouncing– Bouncing on a ball can be a great technique to relieve stress and help push the baby down
- Hypnobirthing- This technique makes use of self-hypnosis and relaxes the woman mentally, physically, and spiritually. It also helps in minimizing the anxiety, fear, and pain at the time of childbirth7
- Aromatherapy- This technique uses essential oils like chamomile, lavender, rose, clary, etc. The oils can be massaged on the feet, on the palms, or the forehead. Adding it to or to hot water while bathing or to a warm towel can also make it effective. Many women have reported that this reduces the stress and tension experienced during labor. At this time, some women also experience a sensitivity to smell, which is why it is important to take a soothing and pleasant oil during this time
Related Reading: 6 Signs That Are Reasons To Stop Working During Pregnancy
- Hydrotherapy- Many techniques are used for pain management during labor that requires water. These can be soothing emotionally as well as offer relief from pain. Many women find jacuzzi very comforting, some like a combination of warm water and the sound of water. Studies show that immersing in water also accelerates labor, reduces blood pressure, and eases pain.
- Focus and distraction- There are several ways to cope with managing pain during labor especially by diverting the mind and focusing on something else. If the woman is not scared or anxious, the stress is not much. So, it is best to distract from the pain and focus on a pleasant scene, visualizing what happens when the baby moves down, how soon the baby would be in the arms, etc. This can further be aided by verbal coaching, concentration, auditory, etc8
- Audio-analgesia– The talks and music work wonders to control and manage pain in many situations like post-operative pains, dental work, burn treatment, and childbirth as well. This technique uses music to offer pain relief by playing soothing music in between the contractions9
- TENS- This technique stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. This is a small electrical device that helps in reducing pain signals that are sent to the brain. This device is also useful at the end of pregnancy in case of backache etc10
- Reflexology- This involves massaging the reflex areas on the feet which correspond to various parts of the body. This stimulates blood circulation and soothes any tension or pain incurred during labor11
Related Reading: 11 Common Complications During Pregnancy And Delivery
Thus, as discussed labor is not easy and painful as well. If one wishes not to take any pain medications during labor, it’s up to the mother to use any of the techniques mentioned above to find relief. In case not talking to the doctor will help as they can then administer pain relief medications to help in the smooth process of delivery. In either case, it is the birthing process that is important and more so a healthy baby.
Controlled relaxation and breathing techniques work to enhance labor progression and ease off labor pains. This diverts the focus on the progress of labor and even helps in managing pain.
The focus on contractions is shifted which helps to reduce the discomfort.
Labor for all women is different. Some women can rate it as two to three on a scale of one to ten while others can quote a ten.
The contractions pain comes and goes, even the position of the baby matters. Experts suggest squatting also helps in reducing the pain and even reduces the second stage of labor.
Some of the pushing tips that can be tried are: Pushing as if one is having a bowel movement. Tucking the chin to the chest. Putting in all efforts. Remain focused. Keep changing position. Trust the instinct. Rest in between contractions. Stop pushing when not instructed.