10 ways to help labour pain

Forget those horror stories – a little knowledge can help make your birth experience a really positive one – here are ten ways to minimise labour pain and help make the birth of your child a memorable occasion – for the right reasons!

Learn to breathe

At the very least, do the breathing exercises taught in your prenatal classes. Even better, take it further by reading up on mindful birthing or hypnobirthing, (you can learn all about hypnobirthing here), both methods of dealing with birth sensations and pain through the mind. These take a good bit of practise, so start early, and if possible, get your birth partner involved too.

Write down your preferences

It’s impossible to predict exactly how a birth will go, and to plan every last detail, but it’s a very good idea to think about your preferences before B-Day, and to write them down and vocalise them to your medical team. Pop a copy into your labour bag, and make sure your birthing partner has one too. Be prepared to be flexible, but at least everyone knows what you’d like happen – ideally. Plus you’ll feel confident and in control.

Stay at home for as long as possible

You’re most comfortable at home, so unless you have been told otherwise or your waters have broken, try and stay at home for as long as possible when you feel the first signs of labour. If you’re unsure, call the hospital for advice. Try sleeping, distraction techniques or eating a snack. When your contractions get more frequent (every few minutes), last for longer and feel more intense, you may have moved into active labour and you should head to the hospital.

Move around

Some studies indicate that being upright results in shorter, less painful births. Being able to move around can also help you feel more confident and in control. In any case, listen to your body and do what you feel is most comfortable. Try squatting, swaying or rocking; simply move around as much as is comfortable.

Get wet!

Warm water can work wonders for labour pain. Even a shower can help – the warm water will relax you, while the stream of water will massage you too. Many hospitals have some sort of facility for baths or water therapy while in labour, but talk to your medical team about this during your pregnancy, and obviously get clearance from them first as there may be a reason for not having a bath or shower at a certain time.

Massage can help

Here’s one for your birthing partner – massage can help relieve labour pains, so make sure your partner attends prenatal classes to find out exactly what techniques can help. At the very least, a foot rub or hand massage can help you feel more confident and supported during the throes of a contraction.

Positive thoughts can help

You’re sniggering now, right? But actually, focusing on something that makes you feel relaxed and positive, and using cues like music, can really help you ride out any pain or discomfort.

Read up on pain relief

Whether you’re hoping for a natural birth or not, we’d recommend that you do your research on common pain relief during labour and decide on your preferences – you don’t have to choose for definite until you’re in labour. An epidural is the most effective pain relief, but can take 15-20 minutes to become effective. More immediate relief is given by gas and air (Entonox), which is given through a mask or mouthpiece. Another common pain relief given is pethidine, a drug in the opiates group that is given by intra-muscular injection.

Remember your compresses

A warm compress on your lower abdomen, groin, lower back or shoulders can help labour pain, so remember to pack a face cloth in your labour bag. Include, too, a cold pack, which can be useful to soothe painful areas. Include a second cloth for cold water to cool down a sweaty face (especially in summer).

Don’t forget TENS

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machines use electrical impulses to stop pain impulses from reaching your brain and stimulating the body to produce its own natural painkillers, endorphins. These are available to buy in pharmacies and Boots, and can be hired at www.medicare.ie.

maternity & infant

Originally posted 2016-06-14 10:24:00.