Whether you hope to get through labour without medication, or you're looking to ease the pain until it’s time for an epidural, midwife Jennifer Ristok offers some tips to help you feel more comfortable.
1. Preparation is important, since most people fear the unknown. Understanding what happens in labour (and why it’s happening) can make you feel more confident when you’re actually in labour.
2. It’s important that you and your partner discover what helps you relax before labour starts.
3. Breathing patterns can provide something to focus on, but generally slow, relaxing breathing is the most effective.
4. Listen to music. If you're giving birth in a hospital, bring along your own CD player or iPod.
5. Try some soothing water therapy. Many hospitals now make showers and whirlpool tubs available to labouring women.
6. Gentle massage can be very relaxing, although some women don't like to be touched at all during labour. And some women like gentle stroking, while others find that a firm, steady pressure on their thighs, shoulders or lower back is reassuring.
7. Walking and moving around in labour is very helpful if it makes you more comfortable. When contractions are too strong to walk through, you can lean on your partner or against a wall.
8. If you decide to sit in bed, you should change positions frequently. You may want to lie on one side, sit propped up, squat or kneel.