The Key to Coping With Labor Pain

The key to labor is your ability to RELAX.
For many of us, relaxation doesn’t come easily. It is especially challenging when there is pain or discomfort present. But it is worth learning to relax and being able to do it in labor, in order to experience less pain, and be able to cope better.
Why is relaxation the key to coping with labor?

  • Our bodies instinctively know what to do in labor and when we relax, we help our bodies do what they are made to do.
  • During labor, our bodies release oxytocin, a hormone that helps us in labor. When we are relaxed and feel safe, our bodies release hormones that protect us and help with the natural process of labor.
  • When we are scared, tense, or overly anxious, our bodies respond with Fight or Flight and produce adrenaline which can create more pain and stop the good hormones from protecting us.
  • When we realize pain has the purpose of signaling when something is wrong or letting us know how labor is progressing, then we can relax and deal with it.

There are 3 types of relaxation:

  1. Physical relaxation has to do with what your body is feeling. Massage is one good technique to help achieve physical relaxation. There are many others.
  2. Mental relaxation has to do with what you are thinking about. Guided imagery is a powerful mental relaxation technique.
  3. Emotional relaxation has to do with how you feel about what is happening.

Feeling supported through your physical environment, along with encouragement and verbal support from a good coach, can go a long way in accomplishing mental relaxation.
Each type of relaxation has different techniques, and all 3 go hand in hand and are important in achieving optimal results.
Relaxation for labor takes practice:

  • Concentration is required. You must actually concentrate on relaxing and not simply watch T.V. or fall asleep.
  • One size does not fit all. Try various techniques to see what works best for you.
  • Practice often and in various situations. Practice every day and try to relax while riding in the car, standing in line, and in many other situations, not just while lying down.

The number one thing you can do to prepare for labor is learn to relax. Try out different relaxation techniques and practice them often and in many situations. If you are able to achieve relaxation easily in practice, you will be better equipped to relax in labor. And that is the key to experiencing less pain and allowing labor to progress normally and naturally.

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