While almost no woman would ever use the word “comfortable” to describe how they felt in labor, there are things that can be done to lessen the pain of birth. This list isn’t exhaustive but are approaches that work and that you can easily try without a lot of previous training or experience.
The surroundings are important. Dim the lights. Set the thermostat low. Put on some rhythmic music (we like The Rhythm Within – music specifically designed for birth, based on the science of entrainment.) Diffuse a relaxing aroma, like lavender. Have something pleasant to look at, like pictures of your family, favorite vacation spot or birth affirmations.
Get your partner, support person or doula to massage you. You may respond well to counter pressure on the lower back and the double hip squeeze. Your hands and feet are always overworked and will most likely respond well to touch. During contractions, you’ll probably prefer firm, steady pressure, while efflurage (light strokes) are more helpful between contractions.
Try to move your body every 30-60 minutes. If you’re standing, trying sitting. If you’re sitting, try lying down. Take a trip to the toilet once an hour. Some perennial favorites are the “slow-dance with your partner,” bouncing on an exercise ball, swaying hips in a figure-eight pattern and lying semi-prone in bed.
This is a fancy name for “water therapy.” Showers and baths are great places to labor because they’re relaxing and everyone has at least one. You may find both cool and hot water to be helpful depending on where you are in your labor.
It’s important to try different techniques and tools because how we respond in labor may be different than we imagine ahead of time. Listen to your body – if it feels good, great. If it doesn’t, try something else. The whole objective is to keep you as relaxed, calm and confident as possible.