As you head towards the finish line of pregnancy, it’s only natural to think about, and freak out about labor. You read up on birth stories, watch ‘One Born Every Minute’, and get emotional about it all.
And also a bit fearful.
That was me.
I loved watching and reading about birth to learn what to expect. But it didn’t really prepare me for what I should do in labor. I wasn’t happy to just lie back and wait for birth to happen. And I also didn’t want to have an epidural, yikes.
So, I went looking for some better labor advice. Here’s what I found:
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1. Birth Skills
First, I was recommended this book on a pregnancy forum: Juju Sundin’s Birth Skills. I downloaded it from Amazon, and wow. It’s awesome and empowering.
I read it right through and then came back to it during the last few weeks of my pregnancy. The book sets out actual exercises you can use during labor to get through it.
The way it works is using movement and actions to distract your brain from the pain of labor. Here’s some examples from the book:
- Movement – for example, stamping, pacing, kicking your legs – It works to use your body’s natural response to pain (adrenalin) actively and also distracts your brain by offering pain-free sensations to compete with the pain of labor.
- Breathing and Vocalising – blow out a candle, make an ‘ahhh’ sound – both breathing and vocalising help to distract you. Breathing activities give you something to focus on, while controlled vocalising.
- Visualisation – visualising the pain as a muscle working and fatiguing while working to bring the baby into position and your cervix opening was really helpful. The pain has a purpose. There’s also some great visualisation exercises for the pushing stage too.
Another thing I did to prepare for labor was start listening to a hypno-birthing track. It was really calming and could put me to sleep just about every time I listened to it (by the end of my pregnancy I’d clued into this fact and was listening to it before bed at night).
Tension makes pain worse. Relaxing through contractions (and after) helps to manage the pain.
3. Use a TENS Machine
I was determined to have a natural birth, so I hired a TENS machine from my hospital. A TENS machine uses an electrical current to create a tingly or buzzing feeling. The odd feeling helps to distract and interrupt your brain from interpreting pain signals.
You can dial up the intensity of the machine with the hand device to match your contractions.
The only downside to using a TENS machine is that you can’t use the shower or bath with it on (electronics and water don’t mix).
That’s a Wrap
Labor is hard. But it’s less hard if you know what to expect and have plans to help you through.