The Loving Cedar, LLC

How to cope through Labor and Childbirth

Notes from the certified doula
Birth Partner Support

Table of Contents

What are comfort measures?

Comfort measures are what provides the natural pain relief during labor and birth. There are many techniques proven effective for coping with the pain of labor and childbirth.  Natural birth doesn’t mean you have to suffer through the pain. There are many resources and tools to help ride out those waves of contractions! Comfort measures are essential to childbirth.

 So let’s dive right in to the techniques and get you on your way to having an amazing birth journey! Being prepared is key. Practice different techniques before labor and write down your favorites so your birth partner and/ or doula can use them.  Have a few others on the table just in case, you may find during labor that you don’t like what you thought you would like. 

Note to birth partner: Don’t ask her what she needs during a contraction, just try a comfort measure and if it isn’t working, she will let you know. Most likely she will  snap at you, but she can’t help that.  So don’t take it personally, just lovingly try something else. Your job is to help get her through those contractions, and encourage, encourage, encourage. Because guess what: She can do this! And so can you! (Read more on birth partner support).

Labor Pain: Pain or Suffering?

Before we dive into the comfort measures and techniques of coping with labor pain. Let’s talk about pain and suffering for a minute. Suffering  is completely different from pain in a psychological sense. Pain may cause suffering, but pain isn’t always associated with suffering. Suffering is a sense of fear, helplessness, or loss of control. Pain is the physical sensation that is not always a pleasant feeling. As long as we keep the thought of suffering out of the picture, we can get through the pain. Decreasing the pain with different techniques helps keep us from going into that suffering state. 

 

Find your special focus object

Find something to focus on besides the pain. If your complete focus is just on the pain, it can turn to suffering. We don’t want that.

Maybe your focus is breathing. Closing your eyes, internal focus. 

Are you someone that needs eyes open to focus on an object? Maybe a candle flickering, or your birth partners shirt. 

Find something, and let the comfort measures do the rest with easing the pain. Don’t think about what you need to do. Let your birth team do that for you. You just focus on that object or your breath.

Finding your ritual

The main comfort measures!

  • Movement
  • Comfort touch
  • Calming environment
  • Heat and Cold
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Breathing
  • Tools

Let's talk about how to utilize those 7 comfort measures!

Movement: 

Change positions frequently. Naturally we are made to move around, lying in one position can be torture.  Moving can sooth and help your body from tensing up. 

  • Sitting allows you to rest.
  • Side lying is good for when you are exhausted, keep those hips open with a ball or peanut.
  • Lunge helps open the pelvis.
  • Standing uses gravity to help get baby down. It also always you to move around. Walking/swaying/dancing.
  • Kneeling is good for back pain, and leaning forward can relieve pressure off legs and behind. 
  •  Squatting helps baby move down, and can give comfort with stretching the hips and legs. 

Here are some different positions to try…

Comfort measure postions

Comfort touch: 

  • Gentle touch releases the oh so wonderful oxytocin. Oxytocin is the love hormone that has many benefits to labor and birth. It helps speed up labor, and gets that baby out. It also boosts endorphins, the pain relieving hormone. Gentle touch can include cuddling, stroking, kissing, hugging, massage, or holding onto your partner. 
  •  Counter pressure, acupressure. This is where your wonderful birth partner comes in again. 

Counter pressure:

  • Use your fist or the heel of your hand and press steadily and firmly in the low back or buttocks area. Press in different areas until you find the “right” spot

Hip squeeze:

  • This is one of my favorite techniques. From behind, locate the pelvic bones at the sides of their hips, just below the waist. Move your hands down to the roundest part of their buttock. Press both sides towards the center. This will press their hips together. Apply firm pressure during contractions. This is great for back labor. It releases tension, and reduces pain. 
Comfort measures for labor and birth

Calming environment: 

  • Dim lighting, warm room, soft music. Creating a space to feel safe and comfortable to help relax. 
  • Aromatherapy stimulates the brain to associate that favorite smell of yours to relaxation. This helps you to relax instantly when smelling it. And guess what, that boosts your pain-relieving hormones!
  • Candles are like aromatherapy if they give off a scent, or your other senses are used to help you relax with candles-your sight. Focusing in the flickering can help you relax as well. 

Set up a special oasis for this journey!

Calming oasis

Heat and Cold:

  • Heat releases tension, helps with relaxation, and soothes muscles. A heating pad is great for back labor.
  • Soak a  washcloth in hot water and place on your perineum. This is very soothing and can help it stretch.
  • Getting warm?A cool cloth on the forehead can keep you going! 
  • Keep a few wet washcloths in the freezer to switch out when one gets too warm. Or have an ice bowl next to you. 

Hydrotherapy:

  • Deep tub with warm water can be so soothing. Let the water relax you and release tension. Water can help ease the weight of gravity off your body.
  • Showers can be so comforting as well. Allowing the water to spray on you. Water is a natural pain reliever. Straddle a chair in the shower to open your hips and let the water release tension around your body. 

Breathing:

  • This is one of the favorite techniques, mindful breathing. Slow, long, focused. (Read more on mindful breathing).
  • Focused breathing can help you not only keep breathing, but it keeps you from hyperventilating. 

Tools:

  • A birth ball or peanut does wonders.
  • Don’t forget that amazing rebozo
  • TENS units have been proven to help back pain. Electrical pulses stimulate pain receptors in the body to ease pain. The only bad thing about the TENS is your body can adapt to it. So this should be your last choice. 
Comfort measures for birth and labor
Comfort Measure for labor and birth

When I go into labor, what do I do again? I'm too nervous to remember!

When in labor, your goal is to stay relaxed and focused. Coping through the pain. Remember, your baby will be in your arms before you know it! Rest between contractions, and power through with those waves using comfort measures. Take one wave at a time. Breath, let your birth partner do the thinking. You just focus on breathing through and then relax.  Take advantage of the rest, and use those comfort measures! You are amazing mama, and you can do it. Take care of yourself. Rest, eat, stay hydrated, and don’t loose focus. 

Would you like more tips and tricks for comfort measures? Sign up for your free tips for the birth partner and comfort measures checklist printable bundle. 

Hello!

I am Leah. Welcome to The Loving Cedar LLC. Here is where you will find parenting tips and tricks to help you simplify life.

doula

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