Sources of Unnecessary Pain in Childbirth
Does the idea of "unnecessary pain" in labor and birth sound strange to you? Perhaps you thought labor was supposed to be extremely painful, and there was nothing you could do about it.
There are things women do during labor that actually cause the pain to be intensified. Unfortunately, many women do not know what these things are. Understanding how they affect your labor can help you in preventing labor pain.
Tension If you are skeptical of this, try it while you labor. During one contraction, do whatever you want, tensing your muscles. Then, during the next contraction actively relax your muscles. You will feel a difference.
Paying Attention Too Soon Many women become obsessed with timing contractions from the very first contraction. For some, there is a fear that if you do not pay attention, you may miss something. Some of the signs of progress in labor can be subtle, but you will not miss the major signs. When contractions begin, ignore them and go about your day for as long as you can. When the contractions demand more attention, give them only as much as they demand. Contractions will demand your full attention by the time you are in good active labor, which will require a lot of energy. Don't waste your energy by paying attention too early.
Lack of Sleep A tired body is less able to deal with the stress of labor, causing everything to "feel" more even though your body is not doing more work. Be sure to get plenty of rest in the days leading up to your labor. When contractions begin, don't be afraid to take a nap. I promise you will NOT sleep through the birth of your baby. If you have the luxury of a slow starting labor, use the early mild contractions to get some sleep.
Thirst If you do not take sips of water or juice between your contractions, you stand a good chance of becoming dehydrated. When your body is dehydrated, your muscle output is decreased by 30%. That means that your uterus will contract just as hard, but it will do 30% less work. Dehydration also heightens feelings of exhaustion and can elevate your temperature. If your temperature goes up, your medical team, intent on ensuring your baby is healthy, will assume this "fever" is caused by an infection and you may begin to receive antibiotics via injection or IV (which is a pain in and of itself).
Hunger Your body uses food as its energy source. If you are not eating during labor, you are depriving your body of energy it needs to labor. Many hospitals now allow you to eat during labor. If your birthplace does not allow eating, understand that most women lose their desire to eat during active labor, so simply stay home until your desire to eat is gone.
Need to urinate There will be a lot of activity going on in your pelvic region. During active labor you may not be able to distinguish the need to urinate from the other pressures you feel. Your uterus will put pressure on your bladder as contracts, so the best way to prevent pain from an over-full bladder is to urinate frequently (at least every two hours).
Performance Anxiety Also known as going to the hospital too soon. Some women believe that if they can just get to the hospital, everything will happen faster. That is not true. In fact, the move to the hospital can actually be stressful enough to temporarily slow down or stop your contractions. Waiting until you are in good active labor can help prevent this. Being in the hospital too early makes the labor seem slower than if you had stayed at home and busied yourself with your life. Having nurses and doctors checking on you can make the "seeming slow" labor seem even slower, causing the mom to feel that she has to perform better, labor must get moving. This anxiety can be enough to send some women into the fear/tension/pain cycle.
Lying on you Back When you are on your back, the contracting uterus has to move "up" against gravity, which is much more work than simply moving forward. Also, you can constrict the blood flow to the heart, causing you to be light-headed. Staying off you back can help in preventing labor pain.