Labor experience can be daunting and even anticipation of it makes some women shake with fear. We are all afraid of pain, which is actually very subjective thing. For some women “can barely handle” pain, for others - “just slight discomfort.”
Very often, in order to cope with all the labor discomfort, women call for an epidural; a drug that helps manage pain. While there are benefits of an epidural, there are also some drawbacks. That’s why more women nowadays opt for a drug-free labor, which can be exhausting, oh yeah, but so unique and memorable.
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Luckily, there are so many natural alternatives to epidural that have been known and used for centuries. And while for the best effect you may need to use them in conjunction, but you can be sure that these techniques are not going to take away from your labor experience.
So, here is the ultimate list of 7 very effective ways to ease your labor pain and go epidural-free.
1. Do your homework
Yes, it’s important. I know, I know - our ancestors gave birth without any knowledge and they turned out fine. Of course, your body will birth a child anyway, whether you know how to do it or not. But if you don’t want to lay the matters in doctor’s hands and be subject to possible and unnecessary interventions, or if you want to be in control of the process - do your own research. Attend birthing classes, choosing a trusted midwife or doctor, finance permitting - hire a doula, read some literature. You will know what to expect and it will also prepare you for method #2.
2. Relax. Really, relax
In one of my previous posts I’ve already highlighted the importance of relaxation during birth.
In short, your body works in conjunction with your mind. So if you are tense and afraid, your uterus will close and make contractions more painful. But if your mind and body is relaxed, your uterus will function properly and you’re more likely to have a satisfying birth experience.
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard a lot about the power of deep breathing, but in my opinion people underestimate this trick. During labor, things can get chaotic. When you have irregular contractions, it’s very easy to concentrate on your breathing. But when they become frequent and longer, that’s when the fun begins. And it’s so easy to get panicky and distracted. But try to concentrate for just a second and resume that correct breathing. There are a couple of ways of mastering different techniques. In my Hypno-birthing classes I was taught to breathe from your stomach, also called abdominal breathing. Prior to my birth, I was practicing it a couple of times, but when I went into labor, for some reason it was difficult for me to perform this technique. So I went with a long inhale through the nose and long exhale through the mouse. This type of breathing was very helpful in shifting my mind from the discomfort of contractions.
4. Massage makes wonders
I’m sure you like a massage. And we all know how beneficial it is for treating many kinds of muscle spasms and skeletal discomfort. But you can’t even imagine how pain-relieving massage is during labor. It’s literally a lifesaver. During labor you’ll be able to tell what kind of touch you prefer: whether it’s a light touch, or strong rub. But be sure, massage is your labor friend.
5. Get off your back
If you’re not using an epidural, there’s a little need for you to lie on your back. As many women notice, moving around during labor really helps to get your mind off painful contractions and kill some time. Even if you have to be in your bed, changing your position to a side-lying will make a difference.
For me, lying on my back was unbearable. I understood it as soon as nurse connected me to a fetal heart monitor for first 20 min. I changed to side-lying and I felt relief right away.
6. Get into the water
Did you ever wonder why so many women choose to have a water birth? That’s because water gives a huge sense of relief when it comes to enduring painful contractions.
Some women literally spend the whole labor in a tub and only come out when it’s time to push, or even choose to give a water birth. While it’s your personal choice on whether or not you want to give birth in a water, one fact is for sure - water does help to ease the labor pain. Even standing under a stream of warm shower makes a difference. That’s what I was actually doing. My whole labor pain went into my lower back. It was pretty intense, but powerful shower stream made my contractions less painful.
7. Hot packs/cold packs
These are really cool things when it comes to easing labor discomfort. If you have labor on your back, which often happens with babies being in a posterior position (face front), hot or cold packs can make you feel sane again. You may want to see for yourself what works best for you. For some people cold packs do the trick, for others - hot packs.
When I was about to give birth I bought this cool Hot Cold Pack . It was basically a small rectangular pillow stuffed with clay-like substance. For making it warm, it needed to be thrown in a microwave for a couple of minutes, for making it cold - in a freezer. Personally, I loved the hot pack. I wrapped it around my back and it felt so much better. Definitely one of the proven pain-killing remedies.
And you can definitely use this hot cold pack for any other occasion if you or someone in your household needs some relief for a back pain.
As you can see these methods are absolutely doable and more importantly they really help. You don't need any fancy devices or special knowledge. Everything is in your hands and your birthing experience can be controlled from within without any medications. So, if you’re ready to jump on the epidural-free labor bandwagon, stock up your memory with these simple techniques and have a great and easy labor!
Now, if you’ve already been there, done that, what are your secret techniques to cope with labor pain? Please share your experience in the comment box below.