Natural labor is not the easiest of tasks. But we choose it anyway to remain fully connected to the experience of childbirth, to protect our babies from harsh chemicals entering their bloodstream, to ensure more chances of successful latching and breastfeeding, and for many, many more personal reasons.
Even though every person processes pain differently, most women, doctors, and scientists (and even The Try Guys) agree that labor pain is one of the strongest sensations a woman will experience in her lifetime. Therefore, the ability to deal with intense pain is definitely a high-priority requirement during labor.
In this post, I collected my best practical tools on how to get through unmedicated labor on both physical and emotional levels.
You might think these are all easier-said-than-done, but if you just try to implement them during your labor, you might be surprised at how much more efficient you can be, how much less stress you can experience, and how much faster your labor can go.
So without any further ado…
1. Take It One Contraction At A Time
When a contraction arrives, focus solely on it. Do not think back to all the contractions you’ve already had or agonize over how you have been laboring for 2 days now. Do not think about all the contractions yet to come, or try to predict how long it will be before you can push and finally meet your baby. Focus only on the current contraction. Something that has helped me do so was counting breaths through it. I used shallow short breaths to get through my contractions, and counting them kept me focused on the present moment rather than letting my mind wander.
2. Relax Into Pain
I have to admit, I understood this advice fully only after my labor, and did not implement it at all. But when I did understand it, it opened a huge door into how I view pain and discomfort altogether, not just labor. Normally, when we encounter stress, or pain, or negative emotion, our immediate response is to tense up. We tense all our muscles, especially the abdominal ones, in an attempt to resist whatever is coming to us. I suggest you do the opposite of that. I know, it sounds alien, but if we can allow ourselves to fully feel that pain without resistance, our labor can progress so much faster, and our endurance levels will go way up.
This sounds pretty easy, but so many of us forget to do so in that same attempt to resist pain. Fortunately, innumerable breathing techniques for labor have been invented, and we can try them all out when the time comes. Or if you find yourself not remembering any of them in the midst of a contraction, simple everyday breathing will do. It’s just a matter of letting your abdominal muscles relax enough. This will not only help you breathe and get the oxygen flowing, but will also help your baby descend faster.
4. Be Where You Are Most Comfortable
This one is crucial, in my opinion. Where you labor and how comfortable you feel there can influence your birth experience so much. Think about it: when you are not comfortable you are a) stressed, and b) tense – the opposite of what you need to be to let the baby come down. And when you are comfortable, you are happier, your thoughts are more positive, and your muscles are more relaxed. Some of you might be energy conscious, so you feel very acutely the energy of different places and people. In this case, it is even more important for your well-being and the well-being of your baby to pick places and spots to labor that “vibe” well for you. It makes all the difference.
5. Do What You Are Called To Do
Similarly to the point above, doing what you feel called to do can help you stay centered, relaxed, and happy during even the most intense of pains. Some women prefer relaxing in the birthing pool, while some feel confined in a pool or tub and prefer to move around. Some choose to dance, and some choose to go for walks in nature. Some women decide they want to lay on their side, and others want to sway with their partner or bounce on a ball. The key component is to answer your body’s calling. If you feel called to moan – do just that, there’s a reason for it, and your body knows best. And you know the kind of power and alignment you feel from answering your intuitive nudges – it feels so uplifting, so wonderful, it puts you right in your center, and lets you focus and funnel energy in a super-hero mode.
Focus can make your whole labor experience. When you focus on the job at hand, instead of freaking out about how long you have already been in labor, or worrying about how long you still have left to go, you flow so much faster and so much more efficiently. You are able to process contractions with less stress, consequently tiring your body less, tensing up less, and therefore letting your baby come faster. When you are in the pushing stage, you funnel your energy into pushing rather than stressing out. Focus makes all the difference.
7. Remember That You Are Not Alone
I know you just raised a brow. You are the only one laboring in the room, I know. But hear me out here. I know how thoughts of isolation can get to you during labor. Your partner is right there, he is advising you left and right, but he doesn’t have to experience any of this pain himself. So how can he possibly know what you feel? Or the doctors, the midwives, doulas. None of them are actually experiencing the same. BUT. Not being able to physically feel the same level of pain does not mean they are not helping or are not able to help. They can always make your labor just a little easier, you just have to ask. They can get you a drink, cold washcloth, or tell you a distracting story – anything and everything they do is for you. Also, whether you believe it or not, each of us are surrounded by a plethora of our personal guides and angels, that help and guide us through life and send us signs on every corner. Normally we are just too busy to notice. When you are in labor, all your “army” is with you, ready to help and assist you. All you have to do is ask. Nothing fancy is needed; just like you would ask a friend, you can ask your angels and guides. You can ask a deceased loved one to come help you as well, to hold your hands through it, to be by your side. It helps and it works, it brings more comfort and magic to your labor experience.
I hope you find these tools helpful and they serve you in your amazing natural childbirth experience. May your labor be easy and fast, and your baby happy, healthy, and latching like a pro.
Have any more tips on surviving and enjoying natural labor? Share them in the comments below.
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