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How to Manage Labor Pains Naturally
Labor pains have the reputation of being the worst pain in the world. As women, we dread having these pains of birth our whole lives, and try to imagine how we will survive once it’s actually happening. Although a 2006 Listening to Mothers II survey found that the majority of women now opt for epidural or spinal analgesia to cope with labor pains, many women prefer to manage their labor pains in natural ways. Dr. Judith Reichman, M.D., medical contributor for the NBC Today show and one of the leading voices on women’s health issues in America, recommends four steps for managing labor pains naturally.
Step 1: Get continuous labor support
Dr. Reichman notes that trained professionals, such as a nurse, midwife or doula, are skilled in knowing what soothes the body during labor, such as touch, massage and applying cold or heat. According to Elaine Stillerman, a licensed massage therapist and author of three highly acclaimed books on massage during labor, a professional will know how to help alleviate labor pains by recognizing body positions that will ease pain, and will be able to administer pressure and stimulation on pressure points in the body that alleviate pain, especially back pain caused by labor. Having a trained professional in the birthing room with you through the birthing process also provides many women with a sense of comfort that may help alleviate labor pains naturally.
Step 2: Consider water immersion to manage labor pains naturally
Many of the women who participated in the Listening to Mothers II survey found water immersion during labor to be helpful in easing labor pains. The survey concluded that women who got into a warm bath tub during labor reported the birth process to be less intense and stressful on their bodies than those who did not soak in a warm bath during labor.
Step 3: Try hypnosis to ease labor pains
Dr. Reichman notes that hypnosis has been found to effectively ease early labor pains and reduce the need for narcotics to alleviate labor pains. This type of natural labor pain management requires a trained hypnotist who understands hypnobirthing, and also requires good timing, as it will take time to reach the proper state of hypnosis that will cause labor pains to abate.
Step 4: Utilize acupuncture
Acupuncture is sometimes used to manage labor pains naturally, according to Dr. Reichman. Some European midwives are trained in acupuncture, but most American midwives have never been trained in acupuncture for labor. Cindi Ignatovsky, a licensed acupuncturist trained in prenatal acupuncture, confirms that acupuncture during labor helps with relaxation, helps the cervix dilate and decreases labor pains.
Taking the traditional route of managing your labor pains in a natural way can have benefits for both mother and baby, so when deciding which option you want to use, make sure you have a loved one close for emotional support and become comfortable with your natural labor pain management choice before labor begins.