six ways to deal with
the pain of childbirth
That long-awaited day has finally arrived and your little one is on their way (and making sure you know it!). You may have been through 9 months of aches and discomfort to get to this point, but the journey's not quite over yet: now it's time to breathe deeply and get through the pain of childbirth.
Fortunately, there's no need to worry, as there are so many methods to choose from to make this process more comfortable for mums-to-be. Some women breeze through childbirth, others find it a little bit tougher, and you won't know the exact level of pain relief you will need until those contractions start.
From the gentle and non-interventional to the more medical, here are a couple of options for you to consider to push through this big, important day.
Using a birthing pool is popular with many mums. The warmth of the water and the weightlessness you feel are both soothing for your body. Your muscles are relaxed, just as they are in a normal bath, and you can adopt different positions quite easily without too much uncomfortable manoeuvring. Remember to pack a dressing gown in your birth kit in case you need to get out and pop to the loo!
A TENS machine (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) sends pain-blocking electrical signals to little pads on your back. You can still move around easily and there are no side-effects. The impulses help produce endorphins, which helps keep you mentally relaxed. TENS is often recommended for the early stages of labour and it can be used for home births as well as in hospital.
From acupuncture to yoga and reflexology, there are many complementary procedures that some women swear by to assist them with pain relief for childbirth. Massage, especially of the lower back, is often cited as a valuable stress reliever. Some gentle aromatherapy oils are said to help soothe anxiety and fear. Hypnobirthing classes are now also very popular and help many women have the most natural childbirth possible, using easily-learned self-hypnosis and breathing techniques.
gas and air
A mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen, Entonox, or gas and air, is fast-acting pain relief breathed in through a mouthpiece. You can control this yourself, and the baby does not need to be monitored, so it’s perfect if you want to keep moving about or be in a birthing pool.
pethidine and other drugs
Pethidine is a painkiller injected into your thigh. Meptid and diamorphine are also similar alternatives. These drugs are called opoids and they can help you rest if your labour has been long and painful. These can be given by the midwife so there’s no need to wait for a doctor, and they equally don’t slow your labour down.
An epidural is an anaesthetic injected into your back and it typically removes all pain and sensation from the waist down. In most cases, you can still feel your contractions and are aware of what’s happening, but without any pain. Mobile epidurals are administered in the same way but the main difference is you’re injected with a slightly different, lower dosage of drugs so you can move around a little. However, it can take about forty minutes all round to set up and to feel the effects so it might not be available if you are ready to pop!