Managing labour pain

Managing labour pain

Want to take the labour out of childbirth? Learn about the many ways to manage your pain, including alternative medicine and nondrug approaches.

Managing labour painLet's face it: Labour hurts. And how could it not hurt? Your uterus will have to rhythmically squeeze your baby down toward the birth canal, then your baby's head will have to push its way through your cervix and out your vagina (yes — out that same tiny opening that you once thought was too small to fit a tampon). Plenty of gain (you get a baby when you're done), but also, plenty of pain. While there's no getting around that, thankfully there are many options for pain relief in childbirth. Whether you opt for an unmedicated childbirth experience or choose to get some medical help for an easier labour and delivery, as a pregnant woman in the 21st century, you can take some of the labour out of childbirth.

Childbirth Pain Relief of the Past

Mind you, it wasn't always that way — as you've probably heard. Women have lived to tell the tale of childbirth since time began — but the tale has changed quite a bit from labouring generation to generation, fortunately for the better. Make that for the much better. In the early days of giving birth, enduring labour — from the first sharp twinge to the last grueling push — was the only option. Then came the anesthetic revolution, which offered an attractive alternative — go to sleep, wake up with a baby. Instead of knocking themselves out, women in labor could just get themselves knocked out cold. Of course, there was only one little problem with this childbirth pain relief method — the woman missed the entire experience. In response to that issue, the pendulum took a wild swing back during the Sixties and Seventies, heralding the natural childbirth movement — which relied on breathing and relaxation techniques to distract a woman from the pain of labour and often portrayed pain medication as the enemy.

Today's Choices for Pain Relief in Childbirth

Now it's your tale to spin — and your labor experience to create. These days, it's possible to write your own ticket (or at least, your own birth plan) to the childbirth of your dreams. You can choose to go unmedicated throughout or through part of your labour, you can turn to alternative medicine and nondrug approaches for pain relief in childbirth — or you can choose childbirth with a little help from today's anesthetics, an experience that leaves you with little or no pain during labor, but allows you to remain awake during the entire process, able to greet your newborn as he or she emerges.

From having a traditional epidural labour — when an anesthetic is injected directly into your back that numbs the lower half of your body — to using analgesics, tranquilizers, and a host of nonmedicinal techniques that seek to reduce the perception of pain, including massage, acupuncture, hypnosis, hydrotherapy, and more, today's laboring woman has plenty of childbirth pain relief choices. Explore your options, talk to your practitioner, and keep in mind that you don't just have to pick one from column A. You may want to go with traditional childbirth pain relief only, stay strictly med-free, or decide that a combination of traditional and CAM techniques works best for you. It's your birth, your way.


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Written by

Sandra Ong

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