Labor pains are a natural part of childbirth, even when planning on having an epidural. Contractions can go on for hours before the doctor decides to administer pain relief meds of any type, and sometimes they do not work. It is important to use a controlled breathing pattern to get through each contraction, especially after they become too painful to calmly endure. Squeezing the bed rail, crying or screaming only makes it worse.
I am the mother of five children. Three were born before epidurals were used during natural childbirth, and one was improperly applied and did not work at all. The one that worked was not administered until my cervix had dilated to four centimeters. It took lots of excruciating contractions before receiving much needed relief, and I had to use a controlled breathing pattern to make it to the epidural.
It Shifts the Focus Away from Pain to a Necessary Bodily Function
Unlike using the bathroom, coughing, scratching an itch or one of many other natural human actions and reactions, breathing is something that we do not have to think about – unless extreme pain is a factor. Inhaling and exhaling too quickly can cause a mother in labor to hyperventilate. It is of important to maintain a normal pace for a number of reasons. When controlled, not only does it help to maintain proper oxygen levels, but it also shifts the focus away from the pain. Instead of concentrating on the intensifying contractions, the focus is on an audible pattern of exhaling and inhaling. It can make a tremendous difference.
An Effective Breathing Pattern to Practice with a Partner
When in labor with my first child, Demerol was the only pain medication that the doctor would allow. Although I was told that it would take the edge off, it did absolutely nothing to ease my pain. I might as well have taken a baby aspirin. What did help to ease labor pains was a controlled breathing pattern that a nurse taught me after I completely lost control. She seemed like an angel that had come to my rescue, and what she did worked to keep me calm. It included three distinct, short exhalations and one blow just before taking a breath. Perceptibly, it sounded like he, he, he, who. It was the only thing that kept my mind occupied during the most painful experience of my life.
Practice with Your Partner
Relaxation is mentioned a lot during natural childbirth classes. What instructors usually fail to mention is what to really expect during labor. Tensing up increases the level of pain. Relaxing the muscles will not take it away completely, but it will help. However, loosening tight muscles will not come naturally. Relaxation during labor takes a conscious effort, and it should be practiced well in advance of your due date.
In addition to practicing relaxation techniques, practice the aforementioned breathing pattern. It might seem silly, and you might feel a little embarrassed while practicing, but you will not feel that way while experiencing labor pains. Practice the breathing pattern in advance, and be prepared to consciously breathe your way through the birth of your child.
Begin by lying down in a comfortable position with your upper body slightly elevated. Use as many pillows as necessary. Have your partner place the palms of his or her hands gently against yours. Do not clasp your fingers together. You must remain relaxed and in control. Look directly into his or her eyes, and breathe using the he, he, he, who breathing pattern over and over again for about 60 seconds straight. Have a breathing pattern and relaxation plan in place. It will not be a picnic in the park, but you will have a much more comfortable experience.
Source: Mother of Five Children