Just as every woman is different, every labor is different, too. You may find that what worked for your mother or a friend to help them during labor, may not work for you. But there are things that you can do to help reduce the stress of labor and improve your comfort. Here are a few examples:
If you can, walk periodically during your labor. Walking not only stretches sore muscles, it helps to pass the time. It may also help labor to progress more quickly because being on your feet will help the work of gravity.
Rest as much as possible. Save your energy for when you’ll really need it.
If your water hasn’t broken yet, it’s safe to take a warm bath to help you relax. If you’re not up for a bath, or your water has already broken, then a warm shower might feel great.
Keep up with your regular activities as long as possible. They’re a good distraction.
A back massage during labor can help you relax. Warm packs to your lower back may also help between contractions.
A cool cloth to your face or neck may help if you get too hot, or if you start feeling nauseated.
You can use music two ways during your labor. You can listen to soothing music to help you relax, and high-energy music when it’s time to push.
If your mouth gets dry during labor, hard candy or ice chips can help you to keep your mouth moist.
Gently rubbing your stomach can also help you relax. Sprinkling on a little bit of baby powder will make the rubbing easy and smooth.
Visualization, which is sometimes called imagery, is a technique that can help you relax by picturing in your mind a specific situation. There’s no right or wrong way to visualize. You can imagine a simple idea or an elaborate scenario, and use that image to help you relax or to motivate you when you’re pushing. Here are some examples:
- Imagine your contraction is a mountain and you climb, climb, climb to the top, and then you slide down the other side.
- Imagine with each contraction that you are hugging your baby, gently pushing him or her out to meet the world.