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How Can I Deal with Childbirth Pain?

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  • Written By: Amanda R. Bell
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2016
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In general, you can manage childbirth pain naturally or with medication. Breathing and relaxation techniques are commonly employed by laboring women to deal with the pain of contractions and giving birth. Using a tub, birthing ball or changing positions during labor may also be helpful in dealing with childbirth pain. An analgesic injection in the early stages of labor may help to make you comfortable enough to rest, and an epidural or spinal can significantly reduce or eliminate the pain associated with contractions and birthing.

One of the most popular ways of managing childbirth pain is controlled, deep breathing. This is used in both Lamaze, a popular birthing method, and the Bradley method. Even if you are planning to take medication to manage pain, breathing deeply through early contractions can help to make you more comfortable until you are ready for medication. If you are planning to give birth without the use of drugs, breathing deeply through contractions and controlled breathing while pushing can be helpful.

Meditating or receiving a massage during labor can also help to manage childbirth pain. Distracting yourself from the contractions can make it easier to make it past each one. Having your partner, a family member, or friend massage your shoulders or back during labor can help to relieve a lot of the muscle tension that contractions can cause, thereby limiting pain.

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Studies have found that sitting in a warm bath during the labor process can greatly reduce the amount of pain a woman experiences. While the warm water is soothing, it can also help to relax the muscles in the back and pelvic area, thus limiting the impact of contractions. Sitting or leaning over a birth ball, sometimes referred to as an exercise ball, can also help to manage childbirth pain.

In many cases, contractions are the most painful when you are lying on your back or sitting still. By changing positions both in between and during contractions, you will likely be able to find one that make the contractions most bearable. Walking, with someone close by for support, can also be helpful in managing childbirth pain. Moving during labor has also been shown to aid in labor progression.

In the early stages of labor, as painkillers or analgesics can be injected to help you rest during the early, often sporadic, contractions. In many cases, these drugs are not given in the later stages of labor because they can make both you and your baby drowsy. An epidural, the most common type of pain medication for managing childbirth pain, can numb you from the waist down, greatly reducing or eliminating discomfort. Depending on the dosage, you may be able to still walk with an epidural or you may need to stay in bed. An anesthesiologist will place a needle into the lower back, thereby providing continual pain relief.

A spinal is similar to an epidural in that it numbs pain from the waist down. Unlike an epidural, however, a spinal is a single shot that can wear off during labor or birth. As with any medication, analgesics, epidurals, and spinals all carry their own risks, although they are considered safe for most women and children. To increase your chances of having the birth experience you want, discuss all of your childbirth pain management options with your doctor both prior to and during labor.

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