Fear of childbirth is very real! These tips will help you overcome your fear of childbirth and learn how to reduce labor pain.
How to Reduce Labor Pain
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Before giving birth to my first baby, I was anxious about labor and delivery. I talked with my doctor about my fear of childbirth. That is when I learned about the blessed epidural! Immediately, my anxiety began to fade. Everything was going to be fine, and I wouldn’t feel any pain! Haha, I was in for a surprise!
When I arrived at the hospital after laboring for a few hours, I was told it was too late for an epidural. All I could do was scream. Then scream some more. How could this be happening? I was NOT prepared for this! Although everything worked out in the end, it was a much more hectic birth experience than I was anticipating.
I do not want other first-time moms out there to make the same mistakes I made! Here are some amazing tips to help you reduce labor pains or overcome your fear of childbirth.
Learn About Your Options
There are many options to reduce labor pain. Talking with your doctor about the various methods to reduce labor pain is a great idea! Your doctor will explain all of your options, giving the pros and cons of each. They might mention epidurals, intravenous narcotics, or drug-free options.
An epidural is a numbing shot that is placed in your lower back. If it is placed correctly, it should numb from your waist down so that you don’t feel pain with each contraction. Ideally, you will still be able to feel pressure to know when to start pushing. Epidurals will help you be able to relax and get some rest if you have been laboring for several hours.
There is nothing wrong with getting an epidural. I do not have a high tolerance for pain, and I am grateful this is an option! Don’t put pressure on yourself to have a natural birth unless that is something that you want to do.
Hypnobirthing is also an option that many moms swear by. It utilizes a mix of breathing, mindfulness, visualization, and relaxing techniques. The main goal of hypnobirthing is to help laboring moms remain calm and relaxed to alleviate some of the pain of childbirth. If mothers become upset, adrenaline may cause blood to flow away from the fetus, prolonging labor.
If you are experiencing severe pain with contractions, or have back labor- your husband, a friend, or a doula can help with a technique called counterpressure. This is when someone pushes on your sacrum with as much force as they can muster.
It is important to have your husband or friend practice beforehand just to make sure they can do it right, otherwise, it won’t be very useful to you!
If you have been on the fence about buying a birth ball, hopefully, this will convince you to bite the bullet! A birthing ball is an excellent, drug-free way to reduce labor pains. Sitting on the birthing ball helps in more ways than one. Of course, it helps to eliminate pain from contractions (hallelujah), and secondly, it is a great way to reposition the baby to get them in an ideal place for labor and delivery. Undoubtedly a win-win!
Music can transport you to a different world, which is why it is an excellent way to reduce labor pains and/or cope with them. Throughout pregnancy, create a playlist of soothing music that is relaxing to you. If you begin to feel anxious and tense up, turn on your playlist. The music will help you relax and loosen the muscles in your body, reducing labor pain.
Our minds are so powerful. Have you ever heard the saying, “Mind-over-matter”? This may just be the time to learn the truth of that sentiment!
Create a safe place in your mind. It could be a picturesque beach with warm waves crashing against the reef, and a soft wind blowing through your hair. Or, you could be wrapped up in your husband’s arms, holding your tiny, newborn child. Whatever image that relaxes and inspires you, hold on to it. When the labor pains are becoming unbearable, transport yourself to one of your imaginary destinations. Stay focused on the image, and breathe deeply and consistently.
Dance and Move Around
This might sound bizarre, but dancing and moving around the room in different positions reduces labor pain and makes it more bearable. I found hunching over and rocking back and forth to be incredibly soothing, so try to keep in motion as much as you can until you find your sweet spot.
One of the benefits of a natural birth is that you can move around as much as you like. Try walking around as much as possible to help lower your baby into the birth canal and to reduce pain.
Heating pads, warm baths, and hot showers help to loosen your muscles, thereby reducing labor pain as well. Many women choose to give birth in a warm bathtub. There are birthing centers that provide warm baths to laboring mothers, you can look into that if you are interested.
Water promotes relaxation as well as reduce pain. If you feel overwhelmed or anxious, try taking a warm bath or putting a heating pad against your lower back.
Let Those Emotions Out
If nothing seems to be working, try screaming and yelling. Trust me, it just might work. And even if it doesn’t take away all of the pain, it is so nice to scream and let all of those emotions out. Plus, a woman in labor can get away with saying and doing just about anything!
This unique form of pain management is another way to reduce labor pain. TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Basically, a small, battery-powered device is connected to a belt that you can wear. When it is powered on, electrodes in the belt emit a very low-voltage electric current to interrupt the pain receptors in your lower back.
Make a Plan
Once you are aware of all of the options available to you, you need to sit down with your husband and make a birth plan. Your doctor may be able to give you a checklist of things to plan for. If not, this is a great resource.
Make sure your birth plan includes your choice in pain relief, the type of atmosphere you want while laboring, and any other specific things you do or do not want doctors to do (such as immediate skin-to-skin time with baby). Give a copy of your birth plan to your doctor so they can plan accordingly.
Attending a birthing class is another great way to learn about what to expect for labor and delivery, and what to add to your birth plan.
Be Willing to Let Go of Control
I know that we just talked about making a plan, but unfortunately, some birthing situations are simply out of our control. If medically necessary, doctors may have to perform an emergency c-section, an episiotomy, or use a vacuum designed to help your baby make it through the birth canal.
It is very important that you stay calm during these changes. Your baby will sense your stress. Regardless of how your baby gets into this world, they will still be your baby! They will still love and adore you, spit up all over you, and make you so sleep deprived that you start putting hair brushes in the fridge (oops!).
Let go of control, and allow the medical professionals to do what they feel is best for you and the baby. It might seem scary, but trust them! And in the words of a highly famous Disney song, Let it Go!
Prepare Your Body
Prepare your body for birth by doing yoga and maintaining a habit of regular exercise. I exercised every single day for 30 minutes up until the day I gave birth to my daughter. My total labor lasted 3 hours from start to finish, and I swear it was because of my daily exercise habits!
I know that my experience may be vastly different than yours, but regular exercise will help prepare your body for labor. If you want an “easier” way to exercise, try using birthing balls! They are perfect for stretching and loosening the muscles in your back and hips to prepare for delivery.
Prepare Your Mind
I wish I had spent more time preparing my mind for labor and delivery. It is important to plan for the unexpected, in case something happens and your birth plan falls through. Approach labor and delivery with a positive attitude and confidence in your abilities. You were quite literally designed to give birth, it is what you were made for!
Most importantly, remember that the pain you are feeling has a purpose. It is helping get your child to this earth. If the pain is becoming unbearable, just repeat to yourself that it will end.
Would you add anything else to this list on how to reduce labor pain?
Michele is a Family Life Educator with her degree in marriage and family studies. She is a mom to 5 kids and loves helping others strengthen their families! When she is not blogging she is spending time with her family and running around drinking Diet Coke trying to get everything done!