Many women consider giving birth as the most challenging phase of their lives. Approaching the due date, the apprehension about the labor and delivery seems to amplify. Not all goes as planned inside the delivery room. However, moms can have much control over the birth—following a few practices daily, the process of childbirth can be made easier without any medical intervention.
1. Yoga During Pregnancy
Yoga has been proven to shorten the total duration of labor.1
The breathing techniques of inhaling and exhaling that a mother learns during yoga can help her stay relaxed during labor and reduce the tension in the body.
Many yogic poses like squatting and kneeling on hands and knees encourage proper birth positioning of the baby. Yoga also reduces the risk of birth complications like lower birth weight and prevents preterm labor.2
2. The Technique Of Hypnotism
Here hypnosis doesn’t involve swaying a ticking pocket watch before the eyes of pregnant women and asking her to push. Pregnant women are usually taught the technique of self-hypnosis, where they learn to hypnotize themselves through deep breathing, visualization, and hypnosis scripts. For instance, women during hypnosis visualize her baby moving downwards as she breaths deeply.
Hypnoses has been seen effective in reducing labor pain, duration of labor, and reduce the risk of preterm labor.3 The results are empirically based on personal experiences rather than theoretical results, though more research is going on to study the technique.
3. Massage Therapy
Muscle tension and stress in joints is an everyday story when it comes to pregnancy. Few sessions of prenatal massage can relax your muscles and ease the pain. Some women also suffer from excruciating back pain during pregnancy. A massage expert who knows target points in the body can help with the pain.
Receiving a massage during labor has been shown to reduce anxiety and pain. It cuts your duration of stay at the hospital and reduces the risk of postpartum depression.4
4. Kegel Exercises For Labor
Kegel exercises involve training your pelvic muscles—the muscles that support your growing uterus and bladder along with other organs. The growing baby puts pressure on the pelvis and the bladder. Many women find it difficult to hold onto their pee, leading to urine incontinence, especially in the third trimester.
Kegel exercises help in strengthening of the pelvic muscles. Coming to the labor, training your pelvic muscles also decreases the labor duration, particularly in the second stage.5
Read more about urine leakage during pregnancy and Kegal exercises.
5. Perineum Massage Stretches
The perineum is the area between vagina and anus. Perineal tearing happens when this area comes under pressure during vaginal birth, resulting in cuts in the skin or the tissue—this happens mostly in first-time moms. Perineal massage can prevent tearing of the tissue during delivery.6
Women usually do the massage on their own. Make sure your hands are clean, your nails are trimmed, and you have a lubricant like coconut oil or olive oil. Massaging also helps increase the blood circulation and promotes quick healing after the birth.
Note: Developing a mental fear of tearing will only stress you during labor hindering the process. Your body is well prepared for birthing and your perineum will stretch enough to let the baby pass through.
6. Get Support Or Hire A Doula
Make sure you have the right person beside you in the labor room. Sometimes, family members may get emotional and make things rather too discouraging when all you need is strength and support. Your partner may make it easier for you if they know what to do. An expert like a doula can encourage you and remind you to breathe deep and relax.
A constant support in the labor and delivery room can reduce the chances of opting for pain-alleviating methods.
7. Optimal Fetal Positioning
There are times when your baby is not in the most favorable position for birth. The optimal position for birth is when the baby head is downwards, with the back of their head towards the tummy. The labor becomes painful and prolonged if the baby’s head is pressed against the mother’s tailbone.
Optimal fetal positioning can help the baby get in the best position for birth before the labor starts. To encourage it, doctors recommend mothers to avoid slouching on the couch or leaning back more often, for instance when sitting in a car seat.
8. Labor At Home
As compared to the glitzy hospitals, with bright lights and too many strangers, a home birth is more comfortable and relaxing, because it is home after all. If medical intervention is necessary, a hospital is the only choice. However, ask your doctor if you can wait at home until you experience frequent contractions that are a minute to 3-5 minutes apart.
9. TENS Therapy
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is an analgesic therapy that uses a low-voltage electric current to reduce pain. It uses electric current to stimulate nerves, which blocks normal pain. It is also said to encourage the production natural painkillers in the body called endorphins. The reasons are yet be researched upon.7
Though it is readily available in the market without the requirement of prescription, one should always use it under a guidance of a specialist—it could be harmful if misused.
10. Hydrotherapy For Labor Pains
Hydrotherapy during pregnancy has been considered safe and beneficial. Not only is it relaxing, it also relieves lower back pain that women often experience during labor. Having a hot shower or a hot water bath in between labor helps ease down the pain and reduce maternal stress.8
Make sure the temperature of the water is optimal—which is around 32-34 degree Celsius.
11. Labor And Birth Positions
After receiving an epidural, you are restricted to the bed. So, before you feel the need, keep moving around. Be on all fours—hands, and knees. Lean on a pillow or your elbows. Try sitting on a birthing ball. However, if the contractions are taking over, moving around may be the last thing on your mind.
Painful Contractions And Pushing
Try staying in upright position, leaning forward when contractions happen. Remaining on the bed may cause painful contractions and a longer labor. Use pillows and cushions for support. Ask your partner to give you a gentle massage on the back. If you are tired, rest your head and arms on a birthing ball or pillows. When pushing, be on all fours or in a squatting position.
Every labor experience is different, and each one is equally unpredictable. The key is to remain calm and relaxed. Remember, nature has given you the power and ability to give birth—everything will be fine in the end.
|↑1||Chuntharapat, Songporn, Wongchan Petpichetchian, and Urai Hatthakit. “Yoga during pregnancy: effects on maternal comfort, labor pain, and birth outcomes.” Complementary therapies in clinical practice 14, no. 2 (2008): 105-115.|
|↑2||Narendran, Shamanthakamani, Raghuram Nagarathna, Vivek Narendran, Sulochana Gunasheela, and Hongasandra Rama Rao Nagendra. “Efficacy of yoga on pregnancy outcome.” Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine 11, no. 2 (2005): 237-244.|
|↑3||Martin, Alice A., Paul G. Schauble, Surekha H. Rai, and R. Whit Jr. “Effects of Hypnosis on the Labor Processes and Birth Outcomes of Pregnant Adolescents.” Journal of Family Practice 50, no. 5 (2001): 441-441.|
|↑4||Field, Tiffany, M. Hemandez-Reif, Steven Taylor, O. Quintino, and I. Burman. “Labor pain is reduced by massage therapy.” Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology 18, no. 4 (1997): 286-291.|
|↑5||Salvesen, Kjell Å., and Siv Mørkved. “Randomised controlled trial of pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy.” Bmj 329, no. 7462 (2004): 378-380.|
|↑6||Beckmann, Michael M., and Andrea J. Garrett. “Antenatal perineal massage for reducing perineal trauma.” The Cochrane Library (2006).|
|↑7||Jones, Iain, and Mark I. Johnson. “Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.” Continuing Education in Anaesthesia, Critical Care & Pain (2009): mkp021.|
|↑8||Schitter, Agnes M., Marko Nedeljkovic, Heiner Baur, Johannes Fleckenstein, and Luigi Raio. “Effects of passive hydrotherapy WATSU (WaterShiatsu) in the third trimester of pregnancy: results of a controlled pilot study.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015 (2015).|