An epidural is a great pain-relief option for labour, but they don’t work for everyone and is not an option when you're having a home birth. A more natural approach to pain relief can sometimes work better.
If you find out that an epidural isn’t on the cards for you, midwife Andrea Klinkenberg believes you should opt for these tried and tested methods of dealing with pain during labour:
1. The benefits of massage
Massage relaxes muscles and reduces pain and can be done either by yourself or by your support person.
Massage helps stimulate your body’s release of pain. Many laboring women find lower back massage eases pain for longer periods at a time.
Use lotions and oils with calming smells – such as lavender – to make for a smooth, calming massage.
2. Have the right mindset
How we experience or deal with pain depends on how we interpret pain. ‘Mind over matter’ couldn’t be more suited to labour pain.
Use mental images to help you deal with the pain. Some women like to envision a rose opening gently and relating that to their cervix opening. Repeat a positive mantra to yourself over and over, such as “You can do this” or, “I can work through this pain”.
3. Breathing Exercises
Rhythmic breathing is important to ensure your body receives as much oxygen as possible. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Your in-breath should be the same length as your out-breath and there should be a slight pause between them. When you breathe out, feel the tension leaving your body.
Alternate between sitting or squatting depending on what your body tells you it needs. Sitting upright can help speed up your contractions while making you feel more comfortable. If you’re experiencing backache, move onto your hands and knees as this will take pressure off your spine. Sitting on a birthing ball is very beneficial as it helps decrease pain and speed up labour. Rolling your hips backwards and forwards can help the pelvis widen. Use gravity to your advantage, and walk around to guide your baby down the pelvis. You can use whichever method soothes you.
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