Although I went through a non-medicated home water birth, you may still get bits and pieces of lessons from this regardless of your kind of birth.
Dealing with birth pains DOES NOT start on the day of your labor. It starts from the very start of your pregnancy. Why is that so? Because it has a lot to do with preparing yourself, not just physically, but also emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
What we are more familiar with is the preparation we do physically prior to birth: we exercise, some do kegels, eat the right food, and study breathing techniques. These are all good and helpful during the actual labour. To add to these, my midwife also suggested to have sex (for low-risk pregnancy). She actually preferred this vs. kegels as this is more natural and a more holistic experience.
What we often neglect is conditioning ourselves emotionally, mentally and spiritually prior to the birth. We are so consumed with the more tangible preparations, and usually just think that “delivering” will depend upon your OB-Gyne or midwife, and that you will just show up on the day. Well, in fact, the right mindset is not even calling it “delivery”, but BIRTH—which is a very unique and sacred experience with you and your baby.
So, how do you prepare yourself prior to birth?
Make sure that there is NO FEAR and ANXIETY about birth.
The actual birth will be easier if you are calm and at peace. The more at peace you are, the better your body works with all the right hormones needed for the baby to come out. And remember, a mother in distress usually causes the baby distress, which leads to more interventions during birth.
How do you deal with fear and anxiety?
Arrest it early on.
What are your fears and worries? Get information. Ask, learn, research. The more you understand, the more you feel in control and empowered.
We learned more about our birth through these.
Faith is the opposite of fear. I have a friend who even memorized verses, so she had “weapons” during birth.
Change your mindset about PAIN.
- Media and other people have greatly influenced our perception of birth and projects the pain very negatively
- But know that YOUR BODY IS DESIGNED TO GIVE BIRTH, so you can!
- Which also goes to say that the PAIN WILL NOT KILL YOU, it will just make you stronger (unless you have a heart condition or complication, hence, the need for medical intervention). Why should you be scared if you will not die, right?
- The pain in childbirth is a positive type of pain. Unlike the usual pain, this PAIN HAS A PURPOSE. The pain opens up your birth canal. Each contraction brings you closer to seeing your baby.
- Unlike when it is a pain from a disease, you do not know what the pain is for, where is it coming from, or when will it end. In birth, you’re sure that when you endure for a little bit, the PAIN WILL END SOON, and you are sure of this. And the more painful it is, the sooner it will be. That’s just great, right?
- YOUR BODY IS PREPARED FOR THAT PAIN. There are changes in your body for months and months during pregnancy, and other than the development of the baby, it also prepares your body to endure childbirth.
Then comes the D-day.
There are different stages during labor prior to birth.
This is the time when pain is most manageable. It lasts for 30 seconds or less and has intervals of 5 minutes or more. Some women experience early labor for a few days.
I started early labor at 1 am until maybe around 11am. I can still walk around, I tried to take a nap (although I don’t recall being successful). I can still eat.
WHAT TO DO? It is important to REST as much as possible during this stage. Try to relax, listen to music, talk to your baby. Best if you can take a nap. Conserve your energy during this stage.
If you are not doing home birth, do not rush to the hospital just yet. If you can still talk or smile. It means, it’s not time to go to the hospital. Best to go to the hospital during active labor to minimize unnecessary interventions.
Pain lasts for more than 30 seconds, usually about a minute. Intervals every 2 minutes. Intensity also increases.
During active labor, I thought, the baby was coming out! Haha. Below are what I did that can help you.
WHAT TO DO?
- Try to still relax. Close your eyes. Breathe slowly.
- Avoid looking at the TIME. It will just agonize you even more.
- Eat if you can. You need the strength for this stage. Eating is quite difficult at this stage, so it is best that you have food that will be easier for you to eat.
- Think happy thoughts J like your baby. Focus on the outcome rather than the pain.
- Get in the tub, if necessary to soothe your pain
- Listen to your body and move around
- Stay close to your husband. Usually his pheromones/ smell relaxes you. We kissed, hugged. Other couples even do nipple stimulation.
TRANSITION TO BIRTH
This is the final leg of labor, the peak of the pain, your baby will soon be crowning and coming out.
WHAT TO DO?
If you reached this time without intervention, Congratulations! But you will most likely act instinctively and not remember any thing I write about this stage. You can do it! Just listen to your OB or midwife. Give your best!
Think: it will end soon!