Tori's Blog

Springtime – Labor Coping Methods

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

Here in northern California spring-timehas arrived. Finally (less) rain, lots of sunshine, flowers blooming and the amazing California poppy is everywhere. All the spring flowers have me thinking about new birth. I thought this would be a good time to review some of my favorite labor coping methods. These are the the strategies I have found to be most helpful to women.

Think about the day of your labor as one working day. It’s not like a holiday celebration that has to follow a certain pattern. Remember that “nature” is not something we can control so it’s best to just allow the day to unfold.

Don’t go to the hospital or birth center too early. Unless your practitioner gives you different instructions, use the 5-1-1 Recipe.

Do whatever will help you the most when it is actually most likely to help you. For example, in early labor, distraction is the best coping tool.

Use relaxation, visualization, and breathing techniques. Some women use all these tools; others prefer only one or two. These techniques can help dramatically with active labor, whether you choose to have medication or not.

Know that labor takes on a life of its own. Although relaxation and breathing techniques can help you handle your contractions, you can’t control them. Let your body follow its own rhythms.

Move around so that you can find your most comfortable position. Changing positions allows you to find the best one for your own labor.

Ask for the kind of touch or massage you want. Light touch is soothing for some women in labor but distracting for others. Firm pressure on your lower back or hips from your partner may be very helpful.

Try laboring in water. Sitting in a warm bath or sitting/standing in a shower can often make a strong contraction feel entirely different and much more manageable. Your practitioner may ask you not to submerse yourself after your water bag has broken, but a shower is generally fine anytime. Some birth centers and hospitals have large, inflatable pools that can be used in labor, and a portable one can sometimes be rented and brought in or used at home.

Keep hydrated and energized. Take regular sips of cool drinks, suck on juice bars, popsicles or ice.

Trust in your practitioner and your support people. It’s really tough to have a baby all by yourself. Let those around you help you.

Always remember that labor lasts for a finite time. Try not to think of the hours ahead.

Take your contractions one at a time. No matter how strong they are, they will generally last only about 1 minute. You can cope that long. At the end of the minute, you will get a break.

Never lose sight of why you are laboring. Keep in your mind’s eye on the beautiful baby you will soon be holding in your arms.

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