"Giving birth should be your greatest achievement, not your greatest fear." - Jane Weiderman
When you become pregnant, often a huge worry for moms is how badly labor and delivery will hurt. Although childbirth is painful, the way we approach that pain and acknowledge that pain will have a huge impact on how the birth pans out. When you hire a doula she is trained in specific natural pain relief techniques that really do make a difference. I'm going to discuss a few of my favourite pain relief techniques that I myself have utilized in my own deliveries and ones I've used as a Doula for past clients.
First up: Hydrotherapy
Some people refer to water as the Midwives epidural. In all of my experiences so far as a Doula, when a woman goes into the shower or warm bath or even the feeling of a warm or cool cloth on her, I have immediately seen a relaxing effect upon her. The use of water during labor and childbirth promotes relaxation of the mother and provides comfort. If you are a person who likes to have a warm bath during her menstrual cycle or a warm shower, chances are getting into the shower or tub while you are in labor will help to comfort and relax you and help to decrease your pain. I usually recommend to my clients to hop into a warm shower or bath (you don't want the water hot) when she is around 5 or so cm dilated because sometimes hopping into the water too early can slow down labor.
Water is an amazing tool for moms/dads/doulas/midwives/doctors/etc to utilize when a woman is in labor. It is free, readily available (in most circumstances) and is proven to be effective and safe when followed with evidenced based practices.
Second: The Hip Squeeze
What is a hip squeeze you ask? It's a magical wonderful maneuver that your doula will do especially in the event that you are experiencing back labor. Back labor occurs due to baby's positioning. When the baby's face is facing the mothers abdomen (occiput posterior) the back of the baby's head will put pressure on the mothers sacrum which can cause a significant amount of discomfort during labor. Performing a double hip squeeze helps to open the pelvis into a relaxed position and relieve pressure off of the mothers sacrum. It also helps to reposition a baby who is in a posterior position and can help a baby who is slow to descend.
So, how do you do it? I've added a video for you to watch. You can also use a Rebozo to perform a double hip squeeze, but I'll have a bit more info about what a rebozo is later on. (I do carry one in my birth bag for clients).
Last for now: Massage/Conscious Touch
Touch is a universal language. We can convey many different messages in the way we use touch. For example, you can show love with touch or you can show anger with touch. When we are consciously aware of the way we touch people we convey the message that we are present. When a woman is in labor it can truly be hard to relax the body, the way you approach her will determine how she responds to that. The goal is ultimately to help her relax to help decrease her pain and improve her comfort. By being aware of the way you hold her hand, or massage her back and focusing on holding space for her while you do that it will help to promote relaxation on her end. Offering a gentle, warm massage in a slow continuous manner is a great technique to help relax mom.
There are a ton of different natural pain relief techniques. I'll provide a list below of them. Being realistic with your expectations is super important. The three techniques I discussed here are my personal go-to's while a woman is in labor. However, every birth is different and each woman may not want these techniques. It is important to change positions, keep hydrated and listen to your body while you're in labor. Having a doula there for support will help to provide comfort, emotional support and be your guide through this journey. It is important to do your research about labor and delivery and your options. Your doula can guide you and provide you with evidenced based resources. Most of all choose techniques that work best for you and your body, but be mindful of the risks/benefits to all techniques. I am not a medical professional, and I will never provide you with medical advice as your doula, but I will encourage you to research both natural and medicated pain relief methods.
Labor is hard but you already have the power within you to get through it. My job is to help make you as comfortable as possible and to remind you of that strength and power you already have within you.
Images of techniques courtesy of Pinterest.