Labor Tips to Ease the Way
Labor is an intense, powerful experience for women. In order to make this journey more palatable and fulfilling, there are many steps moms-to-be can take before and during the labor process to alleviate their discomfort and even to shorten their labor time.
Here are some tips to help women ease their way through labor.
Go to the Source: An excellent source of information and helpful suggestions about the stages of labor are women who have already gone through the process! Although everyone's experience is unique, other moms may have firsthand knowledge that will be useful to you.
Relax: While this may seem like a tall order for women going through labor, relaxation really is the best antidote to physical pain. Moreover, relaxing allows the body to do its job during labor with minimal resistance. Women can begin to practice relaxing long before they enter the labor room and are encouraged to do so throughout their pregnancy. This way, when the big day arrives they are equipped with a valuable set of skills.
Some helpful modes of relaxing include: deep breathing, meditation, listening to music, massage, meditation, yoga positions, and a supportive labor partner who is calming and soothing.
Deep Breathing: During labor you will want to use deep breathing, otherwise known as Pranayam breathing. In general, Pranayam breathing is a set of breathing exercises designed to meet the body's needs and keep it in optimal health. During labor, deep breathing fights away stress and relaxes the body.
Unbeknownst to most people, their breathing is shallow, breathing only from their chest and thereby using only a fraction of the lungs. In deep breathing, one breaths from the chest.
Pranayama breathing also develops one's concentration and focus, and ultimately leads to serenity and peace of mind. Successful deep breathing can only be attained, however, through practice and preparation.
Meditation: Meditation is another powerful tool of relaxation. During labor meditation can help women focus on peaceful, positive, and soothing thoughts and images, instead of concentrating on the pain. The use of meditation is known to speed up the labor process and to act as a natural pain reliever during the process.
Forms of meditation can be as simple as listening to soothing music and thinking peaceful thoughts, or more formally, Pranayama breathing and guided meditations and visualizations.
Yoga: There are specific yoga poses that are particularly beneficial for women throughout their pregnancy and during labor. One such set of poses is the Cat Pose Series, also known in Yoga as Bidalasana Vinyasa. This series stretches the spine and hips, relieving lower back pressure and increasing circulation. During labor the Cat Position can be helpful in repositioning a baby from a breech position.
Here are the basics of the Cat Pose:
On your hands and knees, exhale and arch your back, tilting your head down and looking at your feet. As you inhale, look up and reverse the arch of the back, letting your stomach hang loosely down. Repeat these stretches. Note that in this position the weight of the body is supported by the arms and legs, thus giving your back free range of motion. Move your spine in as many directions as you can to stretch and relax it. Return to neutral.
For more on the Cat Pose Series (including pictures to guide you) go online or visit your local library.
These are but a few of myriads of labor tips to make labor a more satisfying experience for women, and to help them "ease on down the road" towards a healthy baby!