As your belly grows larger and your due date looms nearer, you may start to feel anxiety toward your labor and delivery. It’s perfectly natural for women to be anxious over potential pain, especially first-time moms who have never experienced.
Luckily there are things you can do to make your labor and delivery easier. Parents.com highlights 10 of these “secrets.”
Maintaining some level of exercise is important, though women shouldn’t start a new fitness regimen after becoming pregnant (check with your doctor to ensure your activity level is safe). Good conditioning will help your endurance during labor, and you’re less likely to need medical intervention.
The 10 Minute Solution: Prenatal Pilates DVD is a fantastic option. It offers five, 10-minute workouts that can also be strung together for a longer workout.
Take a Childbirth Class
Don’t scoff at the idea of a childbirth class, it is a great way to alleviate anxiety leading up to labor and delivery! Not only will you learn coping mechanisms for pain and working through contractions, you will understand what your body is doing during each phase of labor. Knowing is half the battle, right?
Enlist Good Support
There are a number of reasons to line up additional support — such as a doula — in addition to your spouse. Having someone with you who specifically understands the needs and emotions of a woman in labor will not only take stress off a laboring mother, it will take stress off a clueless father. Statistics from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology also support this practice, with women 50-percent less likely to need a C-section and 30-percent less likely to need pain medication.
Once contractions begin, anxiety and excitement can also follow. Not only will you be nervous about pain, you will be ready to meet your baby! With first-time mothers, though, labor can last 12–14 hours, so you may want to distract yourself with other things. Take a walk, a shower, or read a book.
A recent study released by the American Society of Anesthesiologists has made eating during labor something to evaluate on a case-by-case basis, so consult with your doctor so you’re snacking on the right things. Keep the fare light and stay hydrated.
Take A Shower
Taking a warm shower can help negate labor pains, especially if you’re using a massaging shower head aimed at the small of your back.
Get In The Tub
This can also help you relax, though I’ve heard some women say it wasn’t as effective as they hoped because the water can’t be too hot. If you’re someone who really needs hot water to relax, this method may let you down a little.
Get A Massage
If you attend a childbirth class, massage will be one of the techniques suggested for alleviating pain during labor. Your spouse or partner can take your cues to massage your lower back, shoulders, or another areas that provide relief. Warning, though, this technique is not for the faint of heart. If your spouse or partner struggles when yelled at, refer to No. 3 and hire a doula.
Don’t Lie Down
Gravity will help you speed things along, so stay upright if you can. Standing, kneeling, or squatting will help your cervix dilate faster.
Be Open to Medication
I will confirm through personal experience that an epidural can actually speed up labor if you are already dilated to at least three centimeters. Each of my three children flew through centimeters 3–10 once the epidural hit. Relaxation at work.