Doula Bag of Tricks
Most women who choose to give birth naturally go through a time in their labor when they feel like they just need "a little something." It isn't that they need pain medications; they just need a little extra help getting over the current hump. If she did ask for medication, the hardest half hour of her labor may be waiting for it to be administered and take effect. Sometimes all it takes is reassuring her and helping her abdominally breathe. When that is not enough and you need to do something to help her, try one of these quick techniques:
Get her in the tub or shower: Water can work wonders to relieve discomfort in labor. It is so effective some midwives refer to it as a "waterdural."
Go for a walk: If she is willing to move, get her walking. Even if it is a very slow walk between contractions the pelvic movement will be good for aligning the pelvis and she may just find her contractions are more comfortable in an upright position.
Change positions: She may not want to move, but encourage her to try. Changing positions can work wonders because it can help the baby change alignment. This is especially helpful if you are waiting for an urge to push or dealing with a long transition.
Go to the Bathroom: It can be difficult to determine the source of a strong pelvic pain. If she has not emptied her bladder in an hour or more, get her to the toilet. Keeping the bladder empty will make more room for the baby to maneuver and reduces pressure for the mother.
Vocalization: If she has not been making noise, encourage her to open her mouth and breathe loudly with her contractions. Her breathing will naturally become low moaning tones (if she is screaming get her to open her mouth and just breathe heavy). This can provide a tremendous release of tension and give her a way to let out the stress of her contractions.
Sympathize: Labor can be very frustrating and it is OK for her to spend a few minutes working out the frustration she feels. Let her cry and reassure her that she is doing a good job, it is just the hardest work she will ever have to do. If possible point out the progress she has made, but do not try to talk her out of being upset. If her crying persists for longer than 10 minutes she may need help refocusing her energy to a more productive activity.
One Contraction at a Time: If she is very overwhelmed, keep her focused on the next contraction. Make a plan for her or with her and then help her work that plan (for example: "when the contraction begins you are going to sway your hips, just sway your hips"). When the contraction is done praise her for the good work and remind her that is one contraction that just accomplished a lot of work. Do not plan beyond the next contraction.
Distraction: If she just needs to get through the next few minutes try getting her to close her eyes and shut out what is happening around her. If she is able, help her to use visualization or other relaxation technique. If she is not able to focus with her eyes closed have her look at you, right in your eyes and focus on your breathing. Have her try to match her breathing to yours - keeping it deep but manageable.