More and more women are forgoing the aid of pain relieving drugs in favor of a natural labor and delivery. In fact, a few hospitals no longer offer women in labor the option of an epidural, saving it only for scheduled and emergency cesarean sections.With so many studies being done, both for and against the various drugs used during labor, expectant mothers are left straddling the line between conflicting sides. With no apparent answer on the issue of drugs, the decision to use nothing becomes obvious.
Patti, a mom who chose to give birth to four out of five of her children naturally says, “After a bad experience using an epidural with my first born, I swore never to use drugs during another labor. The best way I could avoid any potential side effects, was to use nothing at all. I found that I felt so much better, and healed faster after delivering the rest of my children naturally.”Manage the processUnfortunately, there is no way to avoid the pain without drugs, but here are 10 things you can try to help manage the natural childbirth process.
1. Massage. Have your partner, doula or a hired massage therapist massage your back, feet or anywhere else that you feel may help. Massage can relax your muscles and relieve pain and tension during labor.
2. Change positions. Try walking, standing, squatting, and getting down on all fours, or wrap your arms around someone’s shoulders and let yourself hang or lie down on your side. Find the position that feels the most comfortable for you, not one that is convenient for others.
3. Warm baths or showers can help take the edge off the pain, allowing you to relax and progress through labor. Birth pools are another option; they give you the depth and room to move around. You can even deliver the baby in a birth pool for a water birth.
4. Birth ball. The birth ball has become a popular device for women in labor. Using one in either a sitting or leaning position can work to relieve the pressure on your back and soothe aching legs.
5. Music. Put on your headphones and listen to soothing music while you do your breathing exercises. The music can help you stay focused and relaxed.
6. Aromatherapy. Studies have shown that women are benefiting from the use of essential oils during labor. They can help reduce anxiety, pain, labor time, hospital stays and postpartum depression. Oils can be inhaled, used in the bath water, massaged on, spritzed in a cooling spray or for scenting the room by burning.
7. Hot compress packs. Wrap hot packs in a towel and apply them to the neck, shoulders or back to relieve pain. A hot water bottle can also be used.
8. Acupuncture can be used during labor to reduce pain and boost energy levels. It can also help after delivery by relieving stress, anxiety, depression and back pain.
9. Movement. Walking, climbing stairs, rocking in a chair, moving on a birth ball and rocking your hips can all help speed up labor and relieve pain.
10. Visualizing something pleasant during contractions can help you relax and stay focused on your breathing as you work towards delivery.
Before trying anything, talk to your doctor or midwife, doula or another professional about what will work best for you. Remember, women have been giving birth naturally for thousands of years — and you can, too.