There are so many options for managing labour pain, and for optimizing labour progress!
You may be exhausted and tempted to stay in bed, but it is beneficial to get up and work with your body! Utilize your support person to provide things that will bring you any amount of comfort at this time.
Note: if continuous fetal monitoring is indicated during your labour, it MAY limit the options for position changes and movement. That being said, you can and should advocate for yourself to find solutions and compromises with your health care team!
Position Changes and & Movement
Standing, swaying, walking, squatting, even getting on all fours! Position changes and movement can help support labour progress, get gravity working for you, and even help with pain management.
A birthing ball is your friend!
Touch & Massage
Never underestimate the power of physical touch to comfort and support a labouring person!
Massaging the back, shoulders, neck, and even feet, can promote relaxation, focus (and distraction), and help with pain management.
Counter pressure can help decrease tension in the ligaments and has actually been shown to decrease pain sensations.
Counter Pressure involves putting sustained pressure on the lower back and hips: this “pushes back” against the pressure the baby is putting in these areas.
Warm & Cool
Labouring people can be sensitive to temperatures.
Have at the ready: heating pads or warm compresses for back, neck, and ligament pain and cool cloths and fans for when the body is working really hard.
Labouring in a warm shower or bath is an amazing strategy!
Many people find it easy to move around and change position while immersed in a bath, as the water relieves pressure on ligaments and joints.
A hot shower also provides these benefits when a tub is not available (many hospitals do not have the facilities for a tub; while labouring in a tub is fabulous, many providers rightfully have safety concerns for the actual delivery taking place in a tub).
Your support person can provide massage, counter pressure, and encouragement during your time in the shower or bath.
It’s actually very hard to be a labour support person: it is incredibly difficult to see your loved one in pain. If you are a labour support person, just being present to hold their hand or provide emotional support can help immensely.
Other things you can do:
– See above tips for touch & massage, counter pressure, warm & cool compresses, and assisting with position changes
– Frequently offer ice chips, water, snacks
– Have on hand: lip balm, gum, or mints (lips and mouths get very dry during labour)
– Music (prepare a labour playlist)!