Comfort Measures in Labor
Comfort measures do not interfere with your labor and can actually enhance it. They promote a sense that you are in control and can cope with your labor. They encourage your body’s production of endorphins, which are natural pain killers produced during periods of great physical demand and stress. These measures also may help you postpone the use of pain medication, which can interfere with the progress of labor.
We encourage you to create an environment that will enhance your ability to give birth. Your privacy is assured. The lighting in the room can be adjusted to suit you. We encourage you to bring things from home that we be comforting to you, such as music, your own clothes, your pillow, pictures, and aromatherapy. (See What to Bring to Hospital )
Partners, family members, our doulas, nurses and OB providers provide emotional support for you in labor. You can decide who you feel will best support you. We encourage you to invite support people to assist you in labor that you can rely on and with whom you are totally comfortable.
Relaxation is key to your labor. Relaxation will allow your uterus to work more efficiently and reduce discomfort. You can learn to detect muscle tension and release it. Relaxation techniques such as touch relaxation, progressive relaxation and neuromuscular dissociation are taught in the childbirth education classes.
Patterned breathing in labor helps to promote relaxation, keep you focused and give you a sense of control over pain. Slow, relaxed breathing and pattern-paced breathing techniques are taught in childbirth education classes.
Repetitive movement such as rocking, swaying and walking have a soothing affect on labor. Equipment such as the birthing ball or dancing with your partner can help. Rhythm can also refer to the rotation of all the measures you learn. Changing your strategy often will help it retain comfort for you. Your brain will become bored with any technique that is used too long and its ability to provide comfort will diminish. Try to switch between the tub, rocking in a chair, sitting on the birthing ball, taking a walk and then back to the tub.
A variety of items can be used during labor to relieve discomfort or tension. Items particularly useful applied to the back in rolling motions to relieve back pain include a rolling pin, tennis balls or manual massagers. Hot and cold packs, a birthing ball, a fan and cool washcloths are also helpful during labor.
Imagery, Attention Focusing, Mediation
The use of mental images and concepts can be useful to divert you and bring you strength and comfort.
Alternative methods such as hypnobirthing are used by some of our patients to help them relax and reframe their approach to pain.
For more information contact www.lamaze.org or our Childbirth Education Department.