There a several ways of getting some relief from the discomfort and pain of labour, some to them very old methods indeed.
It is a natural reaction to ease pain of any kind by moving – rocking, rubbing or massaging the area or shifting to another position. If a child comes with a tummy ache we automatically try to soothe it by stoking or gently rubbing where it hurts, and we ease aching muscles in our own bodies by stretching and bending. The idea of rubbing it better is as old as the hills. To lie immobile during a contraction is to deny a natural source of pain relief, your own body. As well as shifting pressure a rhythmic movement, like rocking or rubbing, acts as a way of distracting the brain from the sensation of pain. Breathing exercises work in the same way.
Lying down has number of disadvantages – it means the weight of the uterus is pressing o the central arteries and veins which reduces the blood flow both to your own heart and laso through the placenta to the baby. It can also cause backache. In addition you are not making any use of a ntural force which will make labour shorter and the baby’s descent easier – gravity.
Research has shown that more upright pisition in labour make contractions more efficient and so shorten the time it takes for the cervix to dilate. Studies have also shown that women who stay active during labour need less pain relief.
The Active Birth Movement runs classes concentrating on position and movement, but most antenatal courses now teach something about alternative positions in labour. The simplest approach is to do what feels best. Walking around and pausing during contractions to lean against a wall or the back of a chair is often sufficient in early labour. As contractions get stronger you may find that kneedling, knealing leaning forward on to a pils of pillows or against your partner, or sitting astride a back to front chair using the back as a support is helpful. During transition, a more upright posture or changing psisiton can often help a baby in an unusual position shift into one that is easier for birth. In the second stage, the force of gravity can again help the baby’s descent and some positions open the joints of the pelvis wider to allow more room for the baby to pass through.
Massage during labour is very much a question of personal choice – some women cannot bear tobe touched during a contraction while others find that back rubbing helps but only if their partner or birth attendant has the right technique. Some women want very firm, kneading massage, while others want a lighter touch.
This can be used quite successfully to ease pain during labour and delivery.
This is a mother’s story about having acupuncture for pain relief during labour
‘The Acupuncturist met me at the hospital but he didn’t put any needles in until contractions were quite strong, and I needed help – I didnt feel them going in – one in my ear, one between my thumb and finger and three at the end of one leg. They were all down one side so if I had to move and they needed to be taken out he could put them in on the other side. He attached the end of the needles to a machine which vibrated them. That felt like a very slight electric shock but nothing painful. After a which he turned this off and although I couldn’t see or feel anything the needles carried on vibrating.
Within half an hour I began to find the contractions easier to cope with – I used breathing exercises as well. The whole labour lasted six hours and I pushed the baby out without any problems – this was my second baby. The needles stayed in place all the time and didn’t bother me at all. I was pleased with the results.
Hypnosis during labour – ‘I went to six classes in hypnosis as well as learning breathing techniques as the normal antenatal course. We learnt the theory of hypnosis – it is nothing to do with being under some else’s control and having to obey them. Instead we used to sit round and fix our gaze on a particular spot while the practitioner talked us though until gradually we lost everything around us. The practitioner would ask us to imagine we were on a beach, to hear the waves feel the sund and sand. My blood pressure dropped and I felt totally relaxed after, althought I’d been aware of what was going on all the time. During the birth I dound I was able to practise the same technique, to relax totally and it helped during the first stage, although I also had some pethidine. But I couldn’t use it in the second stage because too much was happening and I had to concentrate on breathing and pushing, I felt it was a huge help.’
Transcutaneous Nerve Stimulation TENS
This is in widespread use and can be used at home in earl labour after appropriate instruction from your midwife. A small control box called a pulsar had a nine volt battery fitted and between four and six electrodes can be plugged into this power source. At the end of the wires eadingrom the box are flat rubber pads which are positioned on either side of the mother’s spine.
They are usually taped in place. The mother holds a control button which she can press to send an electrical pulse as the contraction begins. She can make this stronger and more frequent during the contraction or switch it off altogether in between. At the lowest levels there is a faint tickle which is barely noticeable, but the power is turned up the sensation is more like a fizz and then a definite buzz, although it is at no time painful.
TNS is said to work in two ways to help kill the pain of labour. Th first is that it stimulates the body to produce more of it’s own natural painkillers which can raise our pain tolerance threshold – these substances called endogenous opiates or endorphins. The second effect is that it interrupts the pain pathways from the womb to the brain.
Please Phone Tanya for your massage during pregnancy or labour on 0408 054 538.