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This information is especially helpful if you are planning on an unmedicated birth. But even if you want an epidural typically you have to labor for a while to get to active labor before an epidural is administered.
Having pain reliving tricks will be incredibly helpful no matter what type of birth you want.
1. Childbirth Education Course.
It's true, education is a pain relieving option for labor. One of the hardest parts of labor and birth is the unknown. When you become educated on your options, make decisions, understand what is the very best for you, you show up with more confidence. Plus a lot of the process of labor is in managing your mind. Find a great childbirth education class that will help teach you not only what to expect in pregnancy and labor, but tools to help with labor (like the following list but in depth), how to manage your mind, all the options you have for pregnancy and birth, and how to advocate for yourself. We recommend Unmedicated Birth Academy.
When we feel pain in our bodies we innately tense up against the pain. BUT if you consciously relax all your muscles in your body when you have a contraction it will diminish the intensity of the contraction and become a much more manageable sensation.
When in a stressful, painful, or intense situation if you breathe deep breaths it will facilitate relaxation and interrupt the secretion of stressor hormones. It's in the holding of your breath that your body interprets that signal to respond in the fight or flight reaction. Continuing to breathe even when there is pain or stress will make it so your body diminishes the severity.
Often called "nature's epidural." A bath or shower is an awesome option for pain relief. The warmth and pressure of the water hugs the pelvis in all the right places aiding in calm and relaxation.
5. Counter Pressure.
Putting pressure from the outside helps to disperse the sensation that's felt on the inside. As doulas our favorite counters pressures are:
You will definitely need the help of a partner or support people. Most women really like the physical comfort from counter pressure throughout their labor experience. Bonus pro tip: use a heating pad or hot rice pack on the lower back to aid in the relaxation and benefit of the counter pressure.
Especially if you are experiencing some sharp pains, that's typically an indication that the baby isn't in the best position. So Moving and shifting your hips in labor is incredibly helpful. As baby moves into the pelvis, down the birth canal, and through to birth there are lots of ways they might not be in optimal position. Like their little head or body can be a little crooked, or they hit a sticky spot, or get held up by the pubic bone. But the best news is you assist in that baby moving down and out by walking, climbing stairs, shifting your pelvis from side to side.
7. Effleurage or Light Touch.
Have a support person use the back of their fingers and gently stroke your back, arms, legs, or anywhere with plenty of surface area. The gentle pressure stimulates your nerve endings to release endorphins and relax your muscles. Especially if you like being touched the Effleurage feels really wonderful and is something you will probably want to done throughout your pregnancy.
8. TENS Unit.
TENS units work by delivering small electrical impulses through electrodes that have adhesive pads to attach them to a person’s skin. These electrical impulses flood the nervous system, reducing its ability to transmit pain signals to the spinal cord and brain. Placing the small pads on the lower back and using the unit throughout labor has helped many women. Buy one here.
9. Massage Gun.
We recently heard of this one and have been impressed with the results. A massage gun can really help deliver awesome counter pressure on mom and can be an great help for the partner especially if there isn't additional support people like a doula to help assist in counter pressure. This one is on sale.
10. Nitrous Oxide
Laughing gas. Has to be provided and administered by a professional but nitrous oxide is offered by many out of hospital midwives. It's primarily used to help take the edge off the intensity of contractions. Nitrous is nice helpful because it works quickly and within a few deep breaths of full oxygen it can be out of your system. It also helps moms to focus on their breathing which is an added benefit. Talk to your care provider to see if they offer nitrous oxide.
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With the main reason people develop hemorrhoids is from pressure in the bottom, it seems unlikely many women will experience pregnancy and birth unscathed.