When we ask the question “When you think of birth, what comes to mind?”, one of the most common responses is “pain.” Some cultures believe that the pain of childbirth is a right of passage. Many HypnoBirthing moms report feeling only pressure rather than pain – even through an unmedicated birth. However, we live in a world today where most modern cultures are conditioned to believe that labor is innately painful. The anticipation of pain can lead to a fear of childbirth that ultimately increases tension and pain throughout the body. If an unmedicated birth is your goal here are some ways to prepare for labor pain, overcome it, and potentially even avoid it.
Shift Your Mindset
Your mind is extremely powerful and it controls your body. For example, thinks about if you have ever gone for a run. Very quickly, it becomes challenging, but if you or someone else says “You can do it! Just a little further.”, then you keep running and a little more and a little more until you realize you have gone much further than you thought you could. Instead of focusing on “can’t”, focus on “can”, because you are capable of so much more than you realize. Your body was made to birth. Overcoming a negative mindset is the first and most important aspect of preparing for and overcoming labor pain.
Practice Comfort Measures with your Birth Partner
Comfort measures such as counterpressure, acupressure, and rebozo exercise can all help manage discomfort throughout pregnancy, labor, and birth. Don’t wait until labor becomes unbearable to begin using these comfort measures. Finding what works early in labor will be helpful as thing progress and communication begins to feel like it simply takes too much effort. It is recommended that you practice different comfort measures with your partner or doula before labor so that you are both familiar and comfortable with them.
Engage in Relaxation Practiced During Pregnancy
Deep relaxation, a form of meditation, is not something that most people can do easily the first time they try. To condition your body to relax easily, practice often. Utilize deep breathing, anchors, guided relaxation recordings, or whatever works for you. The more your condition your mind and body to relax with ease during pregnancy, the more natural it will feel during labor. When you are relaxed, your uterus can receive ample oxygen and work effectively.
Tone your Body
Various exercises and activities can be beneficial in toning your body for a more efficient and potentially short labor. This is important because while what may women fear is the pain of labor, what can be most challenging is exhaustion or when their provider expects them to progress at a specific rate.
To tone your body…
- Go for walks daily
- Take prenatal pilates and/or yoga
- Eat dates
- Massage your perineum
Ensure your Birth Plan is Respected
If you have a plan on how to prepare for possible labor pain, it is important that your birth team respects that plan. For instance, if you plan on using freedom of movement or a doula, but your birthplace only allows 1 “visitor” and requires continuous fetal monitoring then it becomes a stressful challenge to manage pain. You may even find that this stress causes you to tense up and increases pain. On the other hand, when you discuss your plan with your provider before labor and you know they support it, you can go into your birth with confidence and calm.
Bonus Tips for Managing Labor Pain
- Avoid negative birth stories
- Use movement (rock on a birth ball, sway holding your partner, lunges, etc.)
- Rest when you can
- Consume nutritious foods during early labor
- Stay hydrated
- Empty your bladder regularly
- Take a HypnoBirthing® class
- Hire a doula