Happy Labor Day!
The word “labor” reminds me of childbirth, and it’s such an amazing experience! True, it’s hard work, but it isn’t all bad.
I’ve done it three times, without pain relief, and here are the top ten things that helped me through it:
I prayed about the birth throughout my pregnancy and during labor. My husband prayed on me throughout the final stage of labor. God and breathing were the only things on my mind, and when breathing got too difficult, it was only God.
Seems like a no-brainer, but visualizing a baby in my arms, little fingers wrapped around mine, and a little head on my chest really is motivating. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to achieve it!
3. One Day
Reminding myself that when labor came it would only be one day of challenge. So many other challenges in life last days to months. What’s one day?
Knowing my bags were packed, the baby’s stuff was ready, the children had a sitter, and I had a birth plan all allowed me to focus on the birth. I was not distracted with concerns about my older children or items we still needed to buy or prepare for Baby.
Talking to my husband and doctor about what I wanted and didn’t want to happen during the birth allowed me to know what to expect, and not worry about making decisions in the moment. During labor, my husband took notes and answered the hospital’s questions on my behalf so I could focus on breathing.
Knowing my body was designed to do this, and knows better than any doctor or myself how to do it, allowed me to relax and go along for the ride.
Labor starts as pressure, and isn’t painful until the end. Choosing to remember that it is pressure, and not think of it as pain, prevented panic. Pressure is a positive thing. It tells you what is happening, where to push, and ultimately, it’s what brings the baby into this world.
8. One Breath
When breathing becomes challenging, I focus on one breath at a time. I visualize the air going into my lungs. I don’t think about the exhale or push that follows until I have fully inhaled.
Nothing takes my discomfort away like walking. It stretches my tightening muscles and gives me a task to focus on when the discomfort distracts me. Walking also helps the baby get into the birthing position. Much like the breathing, I focus on one foot at a time, with no regard for where I want to go or how long I will walk. I walked seven hours with each of my last two births.
10. Birthing Ball
Sitting on a birthing ball allowed me to stretch the lower abdominal muscles, much like walking. I still prefer walking, but would roll on the ball when the nurse wanted to intermittently hook me up to monitors. It was a compromise, since I didn’t want to lie in bed.
Every birth is different, but these things were useful with all of my births. I definitely recommend changing positions and applying pressure to different spots until you find something that brings comfort. We don’t have to torture ourselves. =)