How to Manage the Pain of Childbirth
Most first time moms are, understandably very concerned about the pain they will experience during labor and delivery. While a few lucky women say they had little pain during delivery, the majority of women will definitely need some coping strategies to deal with the pain. Being able to alleviate your anxiety about the entire process can go a long way in lessening the pain of childbirth.
What Causes the Pain of Childbirth?
During labor, the uterine muscles contract and pressure is put on the cervix. The pain is felt as abdomen cramping, as well as pressure in the groin and back areas along with an overall achy feeling. Some women will have pain on the sides of the abdomen or their thighs as well. Depending on where the baby's head is lying, there may be intense pressure put on the bladder and bowels. The second most common cause of pain during childhood is simply poor body mechanics. Most athletes are well aware that there are right ways and wrong ways to move their body; a jogger knows that if he tenses his upper body, then a run around the block is going to be much more difficult.
During childbirth, the idea is to keep the muscles which are not being used for labor relaxed, freeing up energy for the muscles which are actively working. The position of your body will change the pressure points during labor. Some labor positions naturally help the progress of childbirth while others hinder it, and in the same vein some positions relieve pain, while others intensify it. Finally, your body's natural response to stress is anxiety, which decreases the available oxygen both for you and your baby. In other words, your fear begets anxiety which creates muscle tension which increases your pain, which increases your fear and so on. The cycle continues until you are able to breathe deeply and un-tense your muscles.
How to Prepare for the Pain of Childbirth
During your pregnancy, it's important to maintain regular exercise so your muscles will be strengthened and prepared for labor. Exercise also increases your overall endurance; if you end up having a long labor, you will be glad to be able to hang in there for the long haul. Of course the level of exercise you do during your pregnancy will by very dependent upon your pre-pregnancy fitness level, so work with your doctor to create an exercise plan which works for you and your unborn baby. Childbirth classes are an excellent way to learn various techniques to hand pain. You will learn how to do stretches to strengthen the muscles which support your uterus and visualization exercises to lessen the pain.
Lamaze and Bradley
The two most common childbirth philosophies are Lamaze and Bradley, although most people are probably more familiar with Lamaze. Lamaze teaches participants that childbirth is normal and natural and that women should be able to be confident in their abilities to come through it in a totally healthy manner. Lamaze classes help women learn relaxation techniques and breathing exercises as well as teaching the support coach or partner how to use distraction and massage to help you through labor. Lamaze is generally neutral regarding pain medication, leaving the decision up to the mother. The Bradley method allows the father to be an active participant in the birth as the birth coach. One of the goals of this method is to avoid pain medications, and to focus on deep-breathing techniques to cope with the pain of labor.
Other Methods of Handling Pain
Finally, some women use hypnosis, yoga, meditation, massage or distraction to help them cope with the pain. Whatever method you use to alleviate pain during your labor, the most important thing to remember is to breathe and remain calm-and that millions of women have gone through the same experience.