This post is based on my observations and experience on how women get through the pain and intensity of labour. Your experience might be very different. My hope is that this information will assist women and their partners in preparing for birth.
I cannot realistically talk about all the variations of what could happen during your labour and delivery. One of my favourite things to do is read birth stories and I’d love to hear yours! Don’t hesitate to contact me with your story, and I would be happy to post them for others to enjoy and learn from. Reading other women’s experiences is a great way to help prepare for your own birth story. Also, if you have any pictures, please send them along for me to share.
You won’t be able to fully plan for your birth. It’s truly a time when you have to be willing to let go of your expectations. I won’t be able to tell you what contractions feel like, or what will help you cope with them. Some women like to walk around or be massaged. Some like to be touched, while others want to be left alone. I spontaneously started singing during my labour! It helped me focus and got me through the pain.
These are the types of things you won’t know beforehand, and you’ll have to figure it out once you get there. That said, it might be helpful to do a bit of research and practice.
Two things are certain from what I’ve seen. If you want to cope with the pain, you have to focus during the contractions and rest well in between.
If you do have a very specific birth plan, find a way to be flexible and know that you might have to deviate from the plan. For example, you might not, under any circumstance, want an epidural for pain. That’s totally acceptable and feasible, but once you’re in labour you might feel differently and really want one. Don’t beat yourself up for wanting to change that when the time comes.
More from Babytalk: How to Make the Perfect Birth Plan
Focus and rest
If your plan is to labour without pain medication, it is very important to rest between contractions. As hard as they are, if you’re able to relax in between, you’ll have a far easier time of keeping calm and being able to cope with the next one. Of all the vaginal deliveries without epidurals I’ve witnessed, almost all the women were able to rest and sometimes sleep between their contractions.
The other aspect is your focus. How do you usually get through a hard task? If you are able to focus intently, it will help to get through each contraction. For example, a birth mantra. A sentence or word that you say over and over again to help you cope with the pain. Eventually, you will get into a rhythm where every contraction becomes easier due to your ritual. If that ritual is no longer working, find something new that does. That can be a different position or another mantra.
Labour is like a very intense workout every two minutes, or so. Find a way to focus on each surge and rest well in between. Women that are able to master this can even sleep between contractions!
I find a lot of women are hard on themselves when it comes to labour and giving birth. There is no way to be in complete control, especially not during a complicated process like birth. During the birthing process, it is essential to try to let go of control. I understand that it’s not an easy mindset to change. Maybe try to practice during your pregnancy. Don’t forget to relax and enjoy the journey. Parenthood is even more erratic than pregnancy and birth, so this is a great time for you to learn to surrender your power.