Pregnancy is a milestone in any woman’s life. Knowing that you are pregnant is very life-changing. Finally, your desire to have a child is turning into reality!
As you enter the third trimester of your pregnancy, the upcoming childbirth looms ever so large and thoughts about the baby’s health, method of childbirth, and the experience of being in labor occupy your mind.
For moms going through pregnancy and childbirth for the very first time, these thoughts and questions are a natural occurrence. And as the expected date of delivery draws ever so near, your anxiety levels may increase, especially at the thought of going into labor, and knowing that it might be a very painful experience.
What is labor?
Labor is the natural process of giving birth to your child. During the last trimester of pregnancy, labor contractions – or the tightening of the uterus – may occur more frequently. They can start on the 29th week of pregnancy. In some cases, contractions can occur even mid-pregnancy. Being in labor and experiencing labor contractions often start during the 37th week of pregnancy.
This is different from the Braxton-Hicks contractions experienced by pregnant women prior to the third trimester. Braxton-Hicks contractions are also known as false contractions. While these are usually painless, first-time mothers may feel a bit of anxiety. There is little cause for concern though, as these false contractions may be caused by diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, sexual activity, or a full bladder.
As the expected date of delivery nears, the baby lowers or settles into the mom’s pelvis. This may result in more trips to the bathroom to pee or it may also make it easier for moms to breathe.
Counting down the days or hours prior to delivery, labor contractions are your body’s way of pushing the baby through the birth canal, signaling the impending arrival of your child.
Is being in labor painful?
Just as the experience of pregnancy is unique to each woman, they may also experience labor differently. Many women report a dull ache in the back and lower abdomen, along with pressure in the pelvis during labor contractions. Women in early labor feel as if they have an upset stomach or discomfort in their digestive system. Other women describe being in labor as going through an intense menstrual cramp.
The ache, pressure, stomach upset, discomfort, or cramp that pregnant women go through has also been described as feeling like a tidal wave of sensations as they increase in intensity before gradually subsiding. As the countdown towards childbirth turns into hours, the frequency, duration, interval between contractions, and intensity of labor contractions increases, lengthens, occurs closer together, and heightens until the mother delivers the baby.
For many women, the thought of going through labor is nerve-wracking. To help women be more confident as they go into labor, there are methods to help reduce labor pains naturally that are worth exploring. Just make sure to run these methods by your doctor first before trying any of them.
Ways to reduce labor pains naturally:
1. Staying active
Women in labor may benefit from being on their toes and staying active to help reduce the pain and discomfort. For example, taking a walk may be helpful in relieving some of the labor discomforts. Another way is rolling on a birthing ball or sitting on a rocking chair and moving it gently. Even just standing or staying upright helps in relieving labor pains and discomfort.
A more vigorous way of staying active is by dancing. Moving in rhythm to music helps your baby gently lower into your birth canal and it also helps widen your pelvis, making more space for the baby to pass through. Make sure to consult with a doctor though, before starting any dance programs, as there are plenty of dances you can do. You have to make sure that this activity won’t prove to be detrimental to both you and your soon-to-be baby.
If smelling something good can relax you, why not try it for this situation? The use of essential oils may also help you feel less anxious. After all, essential oils are derived from plants with properties that inspire health and wellness.
One good example is lavender essential oil. It’s famous for its ability to create a relaxing atmosphere. A whiff of its scent may induce feelings of calm to help women overcome the anxiety that they feel during labor. Try other oils as well, as each one has a different effect.
3. Warm water
When we feel tired or tense, a good warm shower helps us to relax. The use of warm water may also relieve women in labor from tense and tight muscles caused by the anxiety of childbirth.
Some women find it soothing to be submerged in warm water during labor. The warm water helps their muscles relax, thereby reducing labor pains. Being in water may also help relieve the pressure on the pelvis that women in labor feel. It would be good to check with the hospital if they provide birthing pools that moms could use.
4. Reflexology or light massage
There are points in our hands and feet that correspond to particular parts of our bodies. Lightly massaging these areas in our bodies where pain and discomfort may arise can help mitigate the feeling.
The use of reflexology can also be explored to relieve labor pains. Similar to a massage, reflexology involves lightly massaging reflex zones in our feet to promote blood circulation and release the tension in our bodies.
Another way to help reduce labor pains is music. There have been studies showing how listening to music affects how women perceive the pain or discomfort that they are going through during labor. This method may result in decreasing the level of anxiety and unpleasantness of the situation.
This practice can be started at the start of your pregnancy. Get the most relaxing song you can think of, whether classical or for meditation, and listen to it whenever you feel pain. Listening to music early on may also positively affect babies while still in the mother’s womb. They will benefit from the serenity and calm that the music induces in their moms.
Support moms in any way possible.
These are just some of the ways to reduce labor pains naturally. However, moms who go through labor still need all the love, care, and support that they need as they bring their children into the world. Anticipate and prepare for their pains. Ask them about their wishes, preferences, and goals during this period. Make sure they’re as happy as can be.
If you think you or your partner needs additional support, an experienced and well-trained labor doula may just be the answer. Aside from immediate families, partners, and friends, doulas can be another source of care and support that helps moms have a good and memorable childbirth experience.
For doulas who provide deep personal care and support for moms during childbirth, especially first-time mothers, check us out at Northeast Doulas. We guarantee that we provide only deep and personal care for the most important moments in your lives.