Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Life

November 18, 2012

WHOLE FAMILY: Keep on moving to help manage childbirth pain

I ended last week with this: “So next week I’ll go a little further and write about how to manage childbirth pain without Pharmacia. You might be surprised how simple — normal, natural — it is.”

Well, someone’s baby could not wait for this week, and my phone jangled with a call from a woman in early labor. Not her first baby, but she’d still be interested in hearing more about managing pain. I gave her my three if-we-don’t-have-time-to-go-over-everything best tips and bid her blessings as she birthed.

Did I mention I love my job?

You want those three best tips. Right. Well, they were nothing earth-shattering, but they’re as good a place to start as any. I told her this:

One — Keep moving as long as you can and want to. Despite many TV images and the sad state of many real-life births these days, women largely don’t like to be lying down in labor. So “movement” would be the one-word pain-management technique here.

Movement, means, of course, actually moving, but it can mean more.

If you watch a woman laboring unhindered, you might get dizzy. She sways, she squats, she paces. She’s often up one minute, down the next.  I even had a doula client once who walked on a treadmill and one who escaped to a vast outdoor porch for some walking and fresh air. (It took me a few panicked minutes to find her. How would I explain to the midwife I lost her client in those inky dark outdoors?)

The point is to move however your body wants to move or move at the advice of someone — a coach, midwife or anyone else in the know — who knows what movements might be advantageous.

Additionally, I think of “movement” in labor in at least two other ways: Changing positions fairly often and staying ahead of any tendency to fall into a rut.

Sometimes people ask about the BEST position for laboring. My answer, usually, is there IS NO ONE best position; it’s the fact you CHANGE positions that matters. A general rule of thumb is to change positions every half hour or so. Even the action of walking to the toilet, having a contraction there and walking back to a rocking chair counts as position change.

And the no-rut thing. Most labors have a “flow” of their own, and good birth attendants can “feel” it and adjust as necessary. It’s easy to get “stuck” somewhere in the middle, between the signposts, “Crud, I have to do this” and “$!*!$*! I cannot do this!” Frankly, I think I’d rather be at either end than the long middle.

Avoiding ruts is simple: Change it up. That sort of “movement” means try a new technique, fluff the pillows, change birth attendants for a while, open the blinds or shut them, get a new mantra, on and on. Just MOVE by doing something different.

Rhetorically: How do you get anything out of a tight spot? You either move the object itself or move what’s around it. When a laboring mother moves, she does both.

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