Pregnant clients always want to know ways that they can be more comfortable during labor. Since all births are a little different we have compiled a list of comfort measures that can be helpful during an unmedicated birth, a birth with an epidural, and/or a Cesarean birth.
A- Acknowledgement. Acknowledge what is happening with the laboring mother. Affirm her hard work.
B- Breathing. Good, deep breaths can relax your body and sometimes lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
C- Chapstick. All that good breathing may leave your lips a little chapped. Many of our clients find they utilize this a lot when they are pushing.
D- Dim the lights. No matter where you are giving birth your brain has some new sensations to process when you arrive at a new place. Hospital lights are not known for their soft, relaxing quality. Your brain may need less stimuli to help you relax. Dimming the lights is always a way to find some instant relaxation and calm.
E- Encouragment. It sounds so easy but many laboring woman just need to hear that they are doing a great job no matter what the birth circumstance.
F- Focal Point. Many of our clients find that focusing on a certain object, picture in the room, or their partner's face helps them focus through the contraction. This helps them stay grounded and find the contractions to be less intense.
G- Gravity. Many laboring woman can attest to how difficult it is to stay horizontal during active labor, particularly if they are having an unmedicated birth. Sometimes just staying upright can help with the intensity of the labor.
H- Humor. Tread lightly with this one. Most woman like this as a distraction in early labor but it might irritate them in active labor. We will say that we have seen some clients literally laugh a baby out while their midwife was telling them jokes. It's a great distraction tool for some women. Plus, laughing gives everyone a nice serotonin boost that can only make labor more pleasant.
I-Ice. Ice can be used several different ways in labor. Some woman like to crunch on ice chips to keep their mouths from getting dry. Some woman like to have a washcloth previously soaked in icy water applied to the back of their neck or forehead during transition or the pushing stage.
J- Just one contraction at time. Ok, so this is a little bit like the encouragement piece. Remind the laboring mother that she only needs to focus on one contraction at a time. This can help her feel less overwhelmed, more in control, and more relaxed.
K- Kiss! Pucker up, partners. Kissing with your laboring partner can increase oxytocin levels in the body. Oxytocin is less formally known as the love hormone. That hormone increases a feeling of love and security for the participating parties. Bonus, sometimes this helps move labor along.
L- Lollipop. This is a yummy comfort measure. It may give the laboring woman a little sugar boost while helping her mouth stay relaxed. If her jaw is somewhere she usually holds tension, this may help her stay nice and loose and relaxed.
M-Massage. Many woman enjoy massage during their labors. We recommend a firm touch as opposed to a light, feathery one. As always, it is appropriate to ask permission before you touch a laboring mother. If she gives her consent, keep in mind that she may change her mind after you start massaging her and she may ask you to stop. Don't take it personally.
N-Nourishment. Early labor is a great time for expectant mothers to have a good meal. Something with protein and carbohydrates is a good mix. This can help mom to have good energy levels and feel better able to handle labor. Remember to eat only things that are gentle on the digestive system. As always, first discuss eating during labor with your care provider.
O-Oxytocin. Well we are just going to say it again. Get that love hormone flowing! Sometimes all it takes is a warm embrace or slow dancing together through a contraction.
P-Pee. This is an easy one but many women forget to pee during labor. If possible try to drain your bladder at least once an hour while you are in labor. A full bladder can sometimes cause contractions to feel more intense than they should.
Q- Quiet. Remember how we talked about those dim lights? Same things apply here to the noise. A laboring woman doesn't need to worry about processing a lot noises and chatter. Use quiet, calm voices. Don't ask moms questions during a contraction.
R-Relaxation. Staying relaxed is one of the key pieces to helping labor progress. Many laboring moms enjoy listening to music, scriptures, or guided mediations, particularly in earlier stages of labor.
S- Shower. Getting into a warm shower feels great to most laboring moms. This is a great comfort measure for almost any stage of labor.
T- Tub. Many midwives jokingly call getting into a tub of water during labor an "aqua-dural" because many women find it so relaxing.
U- Use a doula. Ok. You know we had to put that one in here. A doula knows all the comfort measures listed here and more. Let your doula remember all this stuff and remind you of it during your labor and birth. Lucky for you we have some great doulas available to attend your birth.
V-Visualization. Imagining a flower opening or riding a wave can be a tool that some women utilize to help them manage their contractions.
W- Water. Stay hydrated. Drinking water helps you feel good while your body is working hard on helping baby out.
X- eXtra pillows. Ok, we cheated on this one a bit. It's true, though, you really can't have too many pillows at a birth. You can help keep mom comfortable in certain positions while she is laboring in the bed. Bonus...you can use those extra pillows to help support mom while she is breastfeeding her new baby.
Y- You are the star! The birth should be about the laboring woman and impending birth of the baby. Keep discussions to a minimum that are not about the laboring woman and what is happening at the time. She will appreciate the undivided support and attention and may feel more relaxed.
Z-Zero inhibitions. If mom seems to be worried or afraid take the time to listen to her fears. Sometimes just knowing that someone has listened can help laboring moms relax, let go, and have a more pleasant labor experience.
There you have it. Here's 26 ways you can be more comfortable during your baby's birth. Contact us today if you would like to have a doula remember all of this for you and attend your birth.