How to Deal with Labor Pain
People’s biggest fear about birth? Pain. Five years of teaching birthing classes in Jacksonville (and online!) has taught me that expecting parents fear pain the most. I hear “how am I supposed to deal with labor pain?” will I be able?”
To that I say…YES. You can handle the discomfort, the intensity, and the pain of birth. There are plenty of tools and resources to manage this whole-body event. Ironically, or maybe not, fear can increase your body’s perception of pain. It isn’t easy to just not be scared, but with practice, you can definitely traverse the terrain response of fear. This is especially true once you know about all of your available options for pain relief and feel comfortable being open to loose plans, rather than holding tightly to stringent expectations.
So what are your options for alleviating pain during labor and birth?
Meditation and mindset. I almost hate to say it because pain is REAL. By saying you can manage it via what is perceived as mind tricks seems invalidating. However, it is more nuanced than “mind over matter”. For many people, and with tons of practice, learning to lessen their fear and anxiety is a huge step to feeling more comfortable and lessen pain. This works particularly if you can remove your own judgment and urge to “fix” physical sensations by simply acknowledging your present state. There is a growing body of research on this topic, although it is limited and like anything, will never work for every person in every circumstance. However, I believe it is a great starting point!
Comfort measures. There are so many different activities and “hacks” to manage pain. They range from simple to complex. Some of my favorites to teach are physical exercises/poses that can take pressure off the uterus (like cat/cow), massage, and hydrotherapy. The great benefit to these is that they allow a support person and partner to help you and provide a chance for connection during labor. It can be affirming and beautiful.
Pharmaceuticals. Medicine is modern sapien’s great achievement! Let me say this straight, there is nothing wrong with wanting to avoid medication but there is also nothing wrong with wanting to utilize it for pain relief, especially when your contractions are strong and you’ve tried “all the things”. There are analgesics such as Stadol and anesthetics, such as the epidural. Each with their benefits. Nitrous Oxide (an anagelsic) is growing in popularity as it can lower anxiety and its risk profile is rather low. There are so many instances pharmaceuticals can help you manage labor, so don’t be afraid to use them if needed.
A great class will answer your questions and delve deeper into when/how to use these tips for managing labor pain. In our Mindful Birth class, you can ask questions and feel confident you are getting answers that are applicable to your goals and situation, and still backed by the science. All the while, you’ll begin equipping yourself with mindset work and a more peaceful demeanor ;)