Article written by Anne-Valérie Adler, certified Doula, preparation for childbirth and postpartum doula *
Most of the births begin with contractions with the future mother.
The pain that the woman feels during her delivery is in a way the corollary of the contractions that take place and mark the beginning of the labour, which will lead to the birth of the baby.
Pain, like contractions, is not continuous and equal during labor and delivery. The pain occurs in successive waves. At first, the contractions are irregular and shorter. The more the contractions intensify and the more the pain is sustained. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that between each contraction, there is a time of calm and rest.
Pain is a very subjective thing that is perceived very differently by women.
In most cases, the woman will be better able to cope with her birth by preparing herself during pregnancy, including a childbirth preparation course.
There are a variety of ways women can cope with pain, mitigate it to a certain extent, and facilitate childbirth.
On the one hand, the woman can use conventional methods to reduce pain: TENS (electrical transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), the injection of pethidine, which is an analgesic, or the epidural. The epidural is a cocktail of analgesic products which is injected close to the spine in the lower back of the expectant mother that has the effect of making the lower body numb. There is no doubt that the epidural is the most efficient way to relieve the future mother from pain. Nevertheless, epidurals also have disadvantages. This technique may lead to more interventions during the delivery of the baby (ventouse, forceps, c-sections etc.).
On the other hand, there are all kinds of natural techniques which an expectant mother can resort to such as:
- relaxation (these 2 tools will be extremely valuable during all the labour: a more relaxed woman who breathes better will have less pain and her baby receiving more oxygen will feel better),
- massages (eg in the lower back), the use of water in the form of bath (except water loss), or shower (water jet on the stomach and lower back to relax, which significantly reduces the pain),
- movements (standing, walking, etc.),
- different positions,
- reflexology and shiatso,
- aromatherapy and
- the services of a doula who will be at the side of the couple, from the beginning of labour until birth (and in most cases, already during pregnancy).
In the end, it is important for the woman to be familiar with the painkiller methods available to her and their implications so that she can – during her delivery – make an informed choice of which one (s) suits her best.
* Article published in Escapade magazine in February 2013