Pain Management Tips for Expecting Mothers
Believe it or not, the labor and delivery world comes with many options, many of which mothers aren’t aware of or forget in the heat of the moment. When it comes to the labor pain and the delivery itself, many new moms assume you only have one or two options, and that’s it. Luckily, there’s a range of options for expecting mothers regarding pain management! If you want a few suggestions on what to do when the time comes around, explore these tips so your delivery won’t be as painful!
Consider the Type of Birth You Want
If you have a strong opinion about the birthing method you prefer, just try and see this through to fruition (perhaps you’ll have a change of heart). Labor and delivery can unfold in various ways (it may very well not go how you expect it to), and as the expecting mother, you’re entitled to design this experience how you deem fit.
When I was pregnant with Chulengo, we took weekly birthing classes to plan for a natural birth. We discovered that he was breech a few weeks before Chulengo’s due date. I tried all of the tricks to try to flip him:
- An external cephalic version (ECV)
- Hanging upside down in a pool
- Lying inverted on an ironing board
- Putting music by my heart + an ice pack near my groin
- All the other exercises recommended for Spinning Babies
Inevitably, I had a c-section to safely deliver Chulengo. While it wasn’t what I had planned, it was the best way to keep Chulengo and me safe and healthy.
Additionally, the type of birth you explore will directly link to the pain management you invest in and have access to. Many believe a water birth is less painful and more feasible for those seeking natural vaginal deliveries without interventions or epidurals. But if you know that you want a medically controlled environment in the trust of your provider and care team, this is where you can explore medically provided pain relief options.
Prepare Your Body For Birth Throughout Pregnancy
Because your body changes so much during pregnancy, trying to maintain good strength and flexibility is essential. A good rule of thumb is that if you were exercising before pregnancy, you could continue the exercise during pregnancy while maintaining proper precautions. Check with your OB to approve of your level of exercise during pregnancy.
I was able to continue OrangeTheory classes until the middle of my pregnancy. Daily walking and stretches can be helpful. Walking in a pool, swimming, or other light movements can also help your body stay strong and limber to prepare for labor.
As a Physical Therapist, I recommend seeing a Pelvic Floor Therapist throughout pregnancy to help prepare your body for birth. They can give you exercises and breathwork and perform gentle manual techniques to improve your baby’s position and comfort.
Request Medically Provided Relief
When you’re in the birth center or hospital for labor and delivery, you have the unique opportunity to speak with those overseeing your care about pain levels as they occur and management tips. They may offer an epidural or spinal block. Still, you can also explore practical intravenous alternatives if this feels intense or the needle is intimidating (don’t worry, it’s normal if you’re not a fan of them—me neither).
It’s worth noting that an intravenous alternative such as acetaminophen or other opioids may only take the edge off active labor contractions, and you may still experience a great deal of discomfort. To be safe though, speak with your provider beforehand and devise a plan before giving birth.
Practice Breathing With the Contractions
Throughout pregnancy, you may have heard much talk about breathwork and the importance of learning to breathe correctly. In through your nose and out through your mouth is as simple and effective as possible. Another way to manage the contractions or pain associated with labor is to rely on this technique as you are experiencing a contraction.
Think of a contraction like you’re riding a bike uphill. It comes in slowly. There’s a hard push to the top, then you cruise down the hill and release the pressure. A contraction is similar. It will creep in, strengthen, and ease off after about 45 to 60 seconds. That’s it. Breathe in on your way up the hill and let it all out on your way down. Repeat as each contraction arrives.
Practicing your breathwork throughout pregnancy is one of the best pain management tips for expecting mothers nearing labor. Once you’re in labor, you will want to rely on muscle memory to perform well, so plenty of practice can make for perfect labor.
Every technique you try, and every method you request will work just as it’s intended to. It’s essential to make requests and demands that align with your goals and remember that the pain is temporary. The minute you hold your new baby, the pain may soon shift into heart-throbbing love that will last a lifetime!