Here's a step-by-step plan for dealing with pain, one stage of labor at a time.
One very special reader I'll call Katherine, is expecting her first baby this fall. She's creative, energetic and super smart. She has an eye for detail, a keen sense of style and just the teensiest tendency towards anxiety. She knows a lot about childbirth, has taken classes, studied everything Fit Pregnancy has to offer including everything I've written in the last few years. Katherine is about as prepared for parenthood as any reader I've ever had. And yet, she's worried labor will be so painful she'll lose her freakin' mind. And she wants to go natural if possible.
Part of the challenge is, Katherine read the Facebook comments answering the question: What did labor feel like to you? Here are a few that put Katherine just a wee bit on edge:
- I thought I was going to die.
- Felt like my body was about to break apart from the inside out
- Like a migraine for my entire torso. .
- Like being tortured by Hannibal lector!!! Lol
Pretty vivid, right?
Katherine asked what I think is the best way to deal with labor pain. Hmmm, the BEST way, huh? Well, that depends. Every woman experiences labor differently. Labor varies a lot.
If you're looking for a game plan though, here's a step-by-step plan for dealing with pain, one stage of labor at a time.
Pre-labor - Study, take classes, and practice natural techniques, even if you plan on getting an epidural. The more you know, the better prepared and less frightened you'll be about what's happening to your body.
Early labor - During the early hours when contractions come and go irregularly, rest as much as possible. Take walks, change positions frequently, hop in the tub or shower and get a massage. You'll feel cramps and they won't feel great, but most women can handle early labor without medication.
Bust out your natural childbirth techniques. Use your deep breathing and relaxation skills. If you've studied Lamaze, Bradley, Birthing from Within, HypnoBirthing or any other method - bring it. I'm a big fan right now of HypnoBirthing. Lots of techniques are great, but there's something special about HypnoBirthing. It just seems to work.
Active labor -This is the time when the going gets tough. If you're planning to get an epidural - now's a good time. If natural is your goal, keep using all the tools in your natural toolbox.
If you're ready for medical help with the pain, don't beat yourself up about it. That's what it's there for. If you're lucky enough to be in a hospital that offers nitrous oxide (AKA laughing gas) start there.
Most women say epidurals are relatively easy procedures that make labor almost painless. Yes, they can make your legs numb, slow labor down a bit, make pushing more challenging and cause some women's blood pressure to drop, but, labor can be augmented with Pitocin, pushing can be coached, blood pressure can be boosted and for women who seriously need pain relief, numb legs are better than fierce contractions.