“According to physiological law, all natural, normal functions of the body are achieved without peril or pain. Birth is a natural, normal physiological function for normal, healthy women and their healthy babies. It can, therefore, be inferred that healthy women, carrying healthy babies, can safely birth without peril or pain.” – Dr. Jonathan Dye, 1891
As an experienced Hypnobirthing Practitioner, Childbirth Educator, and mother who enjoyed two pain free empowering births, I am forever quizzed as to how women can really manage pain during labour naturally and look forward to their baby’s birthing day?
Here are my top 5 tips for managing pain naturally during childbirth!!!
1.CREATE AN OPTIMAL ENVIRONMENT FOR BIRTHING
Birth is a truly sacred and primal event and so your birth environment should allow you to feel safe, comfortable and relaxed so that you can labour uninhibited, release endorphins naturally and achieve the most natural, positive and empowered birth experience possible.
*Dim the lights, use candles at home and take LED candles to the hospital so that you are not startled by the hospital lights and taken out of your “ zone”.
*Speak in low tones; play calming relaxation or meditation style music.
*Use aromatherapy with high therapeutic grade 100% essential oils, diffuse them, put them on your body and place them in your bath water.
*Whether you are at home or in hospital, surround yourself with familiar comforting and relaxing items, it could be birth affirmations, visualisations, family pictures.
2.BREATHING TECHNIQUES AND RELAXATION
Relaxation and breathing techniques such as nasal breathing, relaxation breathing and diaphragmatic breathing can centre birthing women and focus their mental state during labour. Tension increases pain, relaxation reduces it. Listen to relaxation CD’s specific to childbirth eg Hypnobirthing, throughout your pregnancy and at the time of your labour. They will condition you to be able to “ let go” at the time of your birth. Birth breathing techniques are soooo important; oxygen improves the way your muscles work, and when your muscles work better (your uterus is a set of of smooth muscle cells) birth functions better!
Nasal breathing is particularly important as it accesses and facilitates the connection to the parasympathetic nervous system, this is the happy/calm part of our autonomic nervous system, we should all strive to be operating in this system for most of our daily life, but especially during childbirth as it encourages the release and maintenance of our beta-endorphins which are our natural pain relievers in labour. Beta-endorphins have been proven to be up to 40 times more powerful than morphine!
Mental imagery is a highly effective labour pain management technique; professional athletes to naturally enhance their performance use it frequently. When we visualize ahead of time a sequence of events, as we would like them to happen, we mentally prepare ourselves to be present to that situation. This reduces anxiety of the unknown in that the scene has become a familiar one, not a new experience to be feared. Labouring women may visualize their cervix opening, their uterus filling up a balloon during a contraction or their baby descending the birth path with ease. These techniques are particularly effective when paired with a visual picture such as an opening lotus flower or when combined with a relaxation script, either read by a birth companion or in an audio form.
4.USE WATER IMMERSION AND MOVE FREELY
The use of water is well documented as a labour pain management technique. Warm water immersion can be very effective for comfort and pain relief during labour. Water provides support and buoyancy that enables labouring women to relax and take advantage of the weightless feeling it provides. Warm water immersion in labour can significantly diminish stress hormones (catecholamines) and reduce pain by increasing the body’s production of pain relievers (beta-endorphins). It can ease muscular tension and help you to relax between contractions.
When you are upright in labour, gravity assists to move the baby down and out. Being on your back slows labour, increases the likelihood of tearing, and reduces oxygen flow to the baby. Changing and moving into positions that your body wants to during labour whether you are in or out of the water is key to working with your birthing body and eliminating discomfort.
5. POSITIVE EDUCATION AND EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
Fear is the biggest enemy to the birth room, fear creates tension and tension creates pain, a woman needs to approach her birth having released any and all fears she may be holding around the pregnancy, birth process and becoming a mother. Eliminating these often conditioned fears and replacing them with a positive expectation for birth is greatly supported by taking a private childbirth education course such as Hypnobirthing AustraliaTM, Active birth, and Gentle birth.
Alongside relaxation, emotional support may be the most imperative, and most overlooked, natural labour pain management technique for all labouring women. Studies have shown that women supported by other women, including knowledgeable birthing companions and especially doulas or professional labour companions, experience more positive, less complicated births and report more satisfaction with their birth experiences. They also show less use of pain relieving medications and other interventions during birthing and faster recovery.