Childbirth is the biggest physical achievement a woman’s body will ever experience. Although pregnancy may be a joyous feeling, the pain a woman may anticipate in view of birthing process may build up anxiety throughout her pregnancy. The fear of labour pain involved in a normal delivery process can be the biggest worry. Childbirth is seldom completely painless but there are few tips on ways and techniques to ease the pain of labour.
Understanding childbirth and labour pain
It is important to gain correct knowledge of the different phases of labour and delivery. Labour may vary with different experience for everyone but usually feels like extremely strong menstrual cramps that makes feel breathless and highly uncomfortable. On proceeding, labour pain worsens making the pregnant mother channelise her efforts in focusing on the labour and pushing the baby out. Eventually, on complete dilation of the cervix, the mother is ready to give birth.
Labour pain is caused by contractions of the muscles of the uterus and by pressure on the cervix. This pain is more often felt as strong cramping in the abdomen, groin and back with an achy feeling on the sides or thighs as well. Additional pain during labour may arise from pressure on the bladder and bowels by the baby’s head and the stretching of the birth canal and vagina.
Being familiar with the stages of childbirth and practicing comfort measures before the due date will help ease anxiety and facilitate painless labour. A small childbirth class from a certified instructor can be a guide for chieving painless childbirth goals. During pregnancy, starting any new therapy or exercise will need consultation with the doctor or health-care provider to avoid any complications.
Regular exercise of different kinds are often recommended for pregnant women. Exercise not just strengthens the mind body relationship but also create natural pain killers called Endorphins in the body. Endorphins released during labour make things easier for childbirth. The many benefits of exercise are to help ease labour pain, build up strong pushing muscles, develop strong and healthy placenta, accommodate the growing demand, improve digestion, regularise breathing, decrease heartburn and relieve fatigue.
Breathing exercise – Lamaze is a popular method for preparing pregnant women with physical and psychological training on conscious relaxation and controlled breathing for the management of labour pain during childbirth. Focussing on breathing in and out can train the mind to relax in the moment and decrease the perception of pain.
Cardio Exercise – Pregnant women who stay fit tend to have shorter labours. Fitness improves endurance to tolerate labour better, not needing medical intervention. Walking, swimming or taking a prenatal-exercise class during pregnancy can maintain healthy heart rate, improve circulation and release the best feel good medicines – natural endorphins, making childbirth painless and easier. Exercise can help for a shorter pushing phase of labour and relatively less hours of pain.
Kegels – Exercising by contracting and releasing the pelvic floor muscles may sound simple but the impact is big. The muscles that will help to push during labour can be strengthened by Kegel exercise started anytime and practiced throughout pregnancy to prepare for a painless childbirth.
Stretching – Exercises such as yoga, Pilates or slow dance help lengthen and loosen the muscles used during labour. Slow-form of movements also help to train the body in managing labour pain mentally and physically. Training the body to hold a yoga position for about a minute can practise the body to hold labour contractions that usually last for a minute.
Perception of labour pain can be affected by negative beliefs and fears. There are many strategies that can help build a positive attitude to better overcome labour pain. Repeated instilling of positive facts, images and ideas has the power to lead the mind away from the sensations of pain normally felt during childbirth. Keeping oneself distracted in other ways such as a new hobby or passion would allow the energy to be spent positively.
Self-hypnosis – Involves tapping into the subconscious state that controls the body and the different sensations that the body feels. Self-hypnosis techniques include guided meditation, deep-breathing techniques and listening to recorded affirmations where the expecting mother is not in a trance but rather a deep state of relaxation. Experts believe that hypnosis helps the person to remain relaxed and de-stressed as it mentally prepares to achieve natural birth without much pain. It is essential to start preparation months in advance.
Essential oils derived from plants contain active ingredients that may affect serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Using the oil to Massage the body or diffuse it for inhalation can allow the properties of oils to penetrate the cells, reaching the blood stream and the brain and thereby influence the body’s neurological and hormonal control of pain and pleasure.
Massages can bring feeling of less pain and anxiety during childbirth. The painful area when stimulated with pressure or heat, it softens the pain messages sent to the brain. A shoulder or neck rub and a gentle lower back massage during early labour can release tension.
Support provided to a woman during labour and childbirth could be the partner, family member, friend, helper or healthcare professional.
One of the most effective ways to trigger natural painkilling chemicals during labour is to engage in regular sex during pregnancy. Orgasms cause the uterus to contract and regular orgasms during pregnancy may help the body associate this sensation with pleasure rather than perceive it as pain during labour.
Is an effective non-pharmacologic treatment for labour pain. It helps to improve circulation and generate a general wellness response within the body. The needles inserted in to acupoints act as release levers, setting free tension and triggering the body to reject the chemicals that cause stress and pain. One may check with the gynaecologist for availability of acupuncture facilities during childbirth.
Sliding into a warm bath takes the pressure of the baby away from the spine and allows the body to feel weightless. Water acts as the anaesthesia that reduces the perception of pain proving to be an effective method during initial stages of labour.
The clinic was started by Dr Manulakshmi, one of the best Obstetrician and Gynecologist in chennai to provide specialized birthing and gynaecology services to women.