In this article I would like to introduce non-pharmacological methods of alleviating labor pain. These are methods that do not interfere with the physiological delivery process, but on the other hand they can't stand childbirth pain completely. For many women giving birth, these are methods supporting the operation of pharmacological methods. Due to their neutral, and sometimes even supportive effect on the course of labor (such effects are brought, for example, by vertical positions or water immersion), it is worth at least initially to choose these methods of pain relief.
What factors affect the perception of labor pain?
Birth cramps hurt - it's obvious. However, it is worth knowing what factors affect the perception of pain. It turns out that you have influence on many of them. There is no reason to suffer more than necessary.
Birth pain can be compounded primarily by loneliness and a sense of helplessness. It is worth to prevent it. An accompanying person who supports and knows how he can help during childbirth is a great relief. Even the presence of a future father, sister, mother or friend can reduce the feeling of discomfort and isolation experienced by those who give birth without the surroundings or the staff of the delivery room. The help of experienced and kind medical staff reduces the feeling of helplessness. Many women giving birth simply do not know what is happening to them, they do not know what stage of labor they are in, nobody tells them what will happen next, what they can prepare for. Without knowing the sense or the essence of the actions taken by the midwife or doctor, each of us would feel threatened, would not trust such people without which the birth-related experiences lose their value. Good communication between the mother and the midwife, knowledge of the environment and a sense of security significantly affect our comfort, and thus, the sensation of pain. That is why I encourage you to visit and get to know the delivery procedure before the solution, see the room, meet the staff and ask questions. Acquiring as much knowledge as possible in advance about delivery and the place where it is to take place will definitely affect your sense of security.
Another important factor that affects the perception of pain is frequent thinking about him, you may even notice some women are waiting for pain. Let us remember that there are those giving birth, who undergo birth almost painlessly, and on the other hand, there are also those who since the first abdominal pains have been asking for epidural. Let's consider that feeling pain is an individual matter, depends on our pain threshold, psyche and approach to it. Think about cramps as a means to an end, not suffering, remember that while cramps are painful, they don't last forever. At the beginning of labor, when the contractions do not hurt, but are only felt, it is worth staying at home, taking care of other activities (e.g. pack up to the hospital, take a shower, prepare a cot for a toddler). It will have a much better effect on delivery than staying in the delivery room from the very beginning.
What to do during delivery
Many women giving birth during labor complain of low back pain, in this case the person accompanying the delivery is helpful. Maybe she massage the places that hurt the most. Such massage allows you to relax your muscles, and also supports a woman who feels strange and lonely in the delivery room. It is both a method of relieving labor pain and a great method of activating a partner. Let's remember that childbirth is usually a stressful event also for an accompanying person, helping the partner feel needed. Massage is usually done during the contraction, when the woman feels pain. When the spasm passes, the pain usually goes away and massage is not necessary. It is worth remembering, however, that when and with what strength massage is performed depends on the woman giving birth and her needs. Massaging is best done with the use of olive (I recommend taking it to the delivery lay), using circular movements with your thumbs, or "rubbing" the sacral area. Remember that such a massage does not have to be performed only when the woman is giving birth, it is worth combining e.g. the use of vertical positions with massage.
Another way to relieve pain is water immersion. If in your delivery room you can use a bath tub or shower, and there are no contraindications to their use - use it. Water relaxes, reduces pain, increases the blood supply to the placenta, and thus also to the baby, and also affects the more efficient delivery process - increases oxytocin concentration (a hormone responsible for uterine contractions) and endorphins (hormones of joy that are produced in our body during e.g. falling in love, orgasm or eating chocolate). Many scientific studies show that the use of a delivery pool reduces the frequency of anesthesia in relation to women giving birth traditionally. The moment of immersion in water will be chosen by the midwife they are most often used when the cervix is 5 cm wide. In the case of earlier application of immersion, it is possible to inhibit contractile function. Being in the bath tub or shower, it is worth spraying the stomach and back with a stream of water, this will help relax muscles and reduce back pain.
Vertical positions in addition to beneficial effects on the delivery process, they also reduce pain. During delivery, the uterus contracts from one of its angles and leans forward. Lying on the delivery bed, especially in the supine position, we attach additional resistance that the uterus must overcome. Cramps are therefore stronger and more painful. The woman giving birth instinctively takes the most appropriate positions at the moment. This promotes faster opening of the cervix and correct insertion of the baby's head into the birth canal.
Dear Lord! Even if you are connected to a CTG apparatus (monitoring uterine contractions and toddler heart rate), ask and ask for the possibility of getting up and moving! In rare cases, continuous CTG recording is a must, often it's just a routine. By talking to a midwife and expressing your desire, you are often able to change a lot! Come, crouch, roll your hips, sit on the delivery ball, don't lie !!!
Proper breathing also affects the perception of pain. Analyzing the mechanism of breathing: by inhaling, you tense all abdominal muscles, exhale, relax them. That is why it is important to breathe during contraction. Holding your breath, you also tighten your muscles and reduce air flow to the uterus (also to the toddler who begins to tire of delivery). That is why you breathe is so important. Quick breathing inhale-exhale-inhale-exhale leave at the end of the labor delivery, when you don't have the strength to consciously extend the exhalation. Too early such a way of breathing does not allow the air to be removed from the previous inspiration, and consequently fresh oxygen cannot flow into the lungs.
Proper breathing, in the early stages of labor focuses on exhalation, which aims to relax the muscles. So: a deep breath before the contraction, a prolonged exhalation on the contraction. Exhale should be twice as long as inhale. The most important, however, is the simple rule - never hold your air during a contraction! This applies to each phase of labor (only during pressure needs to hold your breath). Remember that when you are not breathing, your child is not breathing. Childbirth is also tiring for him, and a constant supply of oxygen is necessary for proper delivery.
They help many women during childbirth, forgotten by many wraps. Use heated towels, bottles with warm water (necessarily wrapped with a towel to prevent burns!), towels soaked in warm water alternately with ice bags (also wrapped, e.g. in a diaper) or with cooled gel compresses brings relief. Wraps are usually used in the sacrum, lower abdomen or perineum, in other places where the pain worries the most.
TENS is a method used in some delivery rooms. This is percutaneous stimulation of peripheral nerves by electrostimulators that send low-amplitude electrical impulses. Therefore, using TENS involves sticking electrodes (two or four) to the lumbar region, which are connected with cables to the controller (the size of a TV or mobile phone remote control). By using this method of pain relief, giving birth alone decides about the strength of the impulse, it is completely mobile, the device does not interfere with walking or taking vertical positions. TENS activates two analgesic mechanisms: it blocks the nerve impulse that carries pain information to the brain and stimulates the release of endorphins. This method does not cause side effects, and its only disadvantage is that it cannot be used, for example, in people with pacemakers.
My methods of relieving pain do not tolerate it completely, as I mentioned at the beginning of the article, but they make it easier to bear. For many women, these methods are not enough, then a decision should be made as to which pharmacological method to use. However, I hope that at least in the early stages of labor, non-pharmacological methods will prove helpful and effective. We should remember that they do not bring side effects for both the child and the mother, they guarantee safety, which cannot be said about even the best pharmacological methods. It often turns out that the correct technique of using non-pharmacological methods is sufficient (e.g. in the case of rapidly progressing delivery). Each delivery is different. We must remember that. What is certain, however, is that much of how we experience it depends on us, people accompanying us and medical staff.
Finally, dear Lord, I invite you for discussion. If you haven't given birth, how do you imagine the pain of delivery? And if you are already happy mothers - how do you remember him? What in your opinion influenced his feelings?