Pain relief options at Dorset sites
|Bean bags/birthing balls/mats||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Aromatherapy||Yes||Yes||No||Yes (if midwife is trained)|
|Gas and air||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Coping with labour
All labours are different – each woman deals with them in different ways, so try not to get too anxious about how your labour will be and how you will feel.
Some women shout or swear loudly, some remain calm and are quiet. Some prefer to hum songs or maybe tap tunes. It could be that you are tactile and want to hold your birth partner’s hand during the contractions, or you may want to have no physical contact. You might want to lie down or to keep moving. Some women like to sit on a bean bag or stand rocking their hips, or sit on all fours (which is great for the baby’s position). We are all different and there is no right or wrong way of coping with labour. Whatever feels natural to you is the best way.
There’s a lot that you and your birth partner can do to help during early labour, such as trying to relax at home and distracting yourself by keeping busy. Try to eat small amounts of food and keep drinking plenty of fluids.
The preparation for your labour starts antenatally, when you will be given lots of information about your options for coping with contractions. Being fully informed of all options will help you to decide what you would like to try. Your team midwife will be able to support and guide you to make your individual plan for labour, making it tailored to you as much as possible. Making your own decisions helps you to feel good about your labour and birth, and helps you to feel in control of the process.
Some women have clear plans of what they do and don’t want in labour. These can change as labour progresses. The midwife caring for you will support you and explain any changes that need to be made to your birth plan. Try not to feel bad if things change. Talk things through with the midwife or obstetrician caring for you, so that you understand why the changes are advised.
The Labour Line (0300 369 0388) is open 24 hours a day and they can give advice on coping with the pain of early labour. Taking paracetamol can be helpful in the early stages. Make sure you read the instructions on the packaging. Remaining at home as long as possible will help you relax, as you are in a familiar and more comfortable environment. Some women find listening to their favourite music or lighting candles can create a feeling of calm.
Your pain relief options
Concentrating on breathing slowly in and out will help you to remain relaxed. If you start to breathe too quickly, you will reduce your oxygen intake and become dizzy and feel panicked. Some women find it helpful to use relaxation CDs or techniques such as hypnobirthing (a method of pain relief that involves visualisation, relaxation and deep breathing). Hypnobirthing classes are offered privately in lots of areas, or there are DVDs and books available to purchase. If you plan to use hypnobirthing, it’s a good idea to start to practice the techniques as early as possible during pregnancy
Remember, most women choose to have several of these forms of pain relief in labour, so don’t worry if you change your mind from your original birth plan. Discuss the plan with your birth partner antenatally – they can be your advocate and voice when in labour if you are finding it difficult to explain things.
Learn more about pain during labour and your pain relief options.