When you’re expecting a baby, you think about a lot of things. One of the biggest worries of almost every mother is what to expect and how to handle labor pains. There will surely be some pain and at no point of time can you predict the severity of it. Every mother is different and every delivery may not be the same. Moms who have previously delivered may not experience the same level of pain in all their pregnancies.
There’s a lot going on, from your muscles contracting to the pressure on your body as your baby comes out in a vaginal birth. There are several choices for a mother. Talk to your doctor about it so that she knows what you want and you’ll know your options. It is important to remember that your choices may change when your labor starts. Your birth may be complicated or different from what you and your doctor expected. However, it is great to have a plan but be open to changes if needed.
Here are some ways to manage your labor pains:
1. Natural Approaches
One of the best things that any mom-to-be can do during her pregnancy, is to stay active. If your doctor approves, you can take many steps to be active when you’re pregnant. You’ll be stronger and have more endurance, which can be important if your labor lasts for a long time.
Apart from this, you can also try taking up Lamaze classes. This encourages women to feel confident about giving birth and enjoy it as a natural, healthy process. Lamaze includes relaxation and breathing exercises that can help reduce your perception of pain and also teaches you to use distraction or massage from a supportive coach.
Some hospitals allow the father of the baby to be in the room during birthing. At such a time, the Bradley Method might be useful. Here the baby’s father acts as a birth coach. It encourages medication-free labor unless it is absolutely necessary. Classes that teach this method focus on nutrition, exercise, relaxation, and breathing techniques. Talk to your doctor about similar classes around you that will help you prepare to manage labor pain during childbirth.
Apart from this, some women also use other methods to help ease the pain when labor arrives. These include walking, massage, trying to relax, taking a bath or shower, shifting position, and listening to music, etc.
2. Pain Medication
Depending upon the severity of pain, a variety of pain medication can be used during labor and delivery. Many women rely on such medicines, and it can be a huge relief when pain is quickly eased and energy can be focused on getting through the contractions. Talk to your doctor about the benefits as well as risks of each type of medicines. Here are some common pain medications used by doctors.
- Analgesics: Analgesics can help ease the pain but don’t numb it completely. They don’t affect sensation or muscle movement. They can be given in many ways. If they are given intravenously (through an IV into a vein) or through a shot into a muscle, they can affect the whole body. These medications can sometimes cause side effects in the mother, including drowsiness and nausea. They can affect the baby too.
- Regional Anesthesia: This is what most women think of when they consider pain medicine during labor. By blocking the feeling from specific regions of the body, this method can be quite useful for pain relief in both vaginal and cesarean section deliveries.
3. Epidural Block
An epidural is a form of local anesthesia that relives most of the pain from the entire body below the belly button, including the vaginal walls, during labor and delivery. It involves medicine given by an anesthesiologist through a thin, tube-like catheter that’s inserted in the woman’s lower back. The amount of medicine can be increased or decreased according to the expectant mother’s needs. The amount of medicine that reaches the baby is negligible, hence there are no effects on the baby. However, epidurals can cause a woman’s blood pressure to drop and can make it difficult to use the washroom. They can also lead to itching, nausea, and headache. Therefore, make sure you discuss it in detail with your doctor before asking for an epidural block.
4. Spinal Block
Doctors can use a spinal block before a C-section. It is used very rarely in a vaginal birth. It is a shot you get in your lower back and it starts to work within a few minutes. Its effects can last for up to 2 hours and it has the same side effects as those for an epidural. Make sure you discuss this with your doctor.
5. Combined spinal-epidural (CSE)
A CSE combines the benefits of an epidural and spinal block to ease pain quickly and for some time. You get the same level of pain relief from a CSE as you get with an epidural, but with a lower dose of medication. You may still be able to walk a short distance after you get it. That way, you may be able to use the bathroom with some assistance.
These are not exactly pain relievers but may help a woman stay calm and relaxed if they are very anxious. These are very rarely used as they can have effects on both the mother and baby. Therefore, if you’ve been suggested tranquilizers, make sure you discuss the need and risks with your doctor in detail.
You must review your pain control options with your doctor. Ask them about what’s available, how effective these options are likely to be, and when it’s best not to use some medications. If you want to use pain-control methods apart from medicine, make sure you talk to your doctor about it.
Remember that you can change your pain-control method any time during your birth. Sometimes, the doctor will decide it for you. Your ability to endure the pain of childbirth has nothing to do with your worth as a mother. Talk to our experts at KIMS Cuddles and prepare by educating yourself about what pain management works best for you.