Contractions are one of the most feared experiences of female existence. We’ve seen the movies and TV shows where labor contractions have brought women to their knees. They scream, yell, and curse their way through labor.
Unfortunately, these perceptions have shaped our beliefs that labor contractions have to be a painful experience.
However, there are many things you can avoid doing that will help you manage contractions better, especially if you’re striving for a natural childbirth.
Check out this list of 5 things you should avoid doing if you want less painful and manageable contractions.
1. Lay on your back
This is not an ideal position for labor. You want to get up and walk around. You also want to engage your body in positions that are going to aid you in childbirth like squats, getting on a birthing ball, or being on your hands and knees. This may seem counter-intuitive because of the pain you’re experiencing, but laying on your back will only increase your pain and prolong labor. When I transferred from my homebirth to the hospital, it was difficult for my body to adjust to sitting in a hospital bed. Thankfully, I wasn’t there long before it was time to deliver my daughter.
2. Try to hold a conversation
It’s not your job to keep your caregivers or family members entertained. I know people will call you and text you trying to find out the progress of labor. Everyone is so excited to see the baby. But don’t feel pressured to focus on everyone else. Labor and childbirth is about you and your experience. You must go inward during your contractions in order for the pain and discomfort to be manageable. If you are really good at focusing your energy, you can even achieve a painless contraction.
3. Hold your breath
Breathe! Your body needs your breath in order to stay focused and open up for the final stages of labor. Holding your breath is a natural reaction to pain and fear. Fight this impulse. Breathe in fully during each contraction. I noticed when I would breathe deeply, the contraction felt like my body expanding and it didn’t hurt. When I held my breath in fearful anticipation, the contraction felt like it was tearing through my womb — it was very painful. Stay connected to your breath during labor. Start practicing this breathing exercise to get prepared. You can use this same exercise in labor.
4. Try to escape it
When my contractions started getting really painful, I wanted to run away. Actually, I did run. lol. From one side of the room to the other. From upstairs to downstairs. I wanted to get away from them. I wanted to escape them. My midwife made me sit down and be present with the contractions and this relieved some of the pain. They weren’t nearly as painful as when I was trying to escape. The contractions must happen in order to open the body for labor. Stay with them. Be present. Breathe. Focus. This is the only way to relieve some of the pain.
Making high pitched noises increases pain during a contraction. If you need to make noise during a contraction, focus on low sounding grunts or moans. Making this type of noise keeps you ground and present with your body. It also helps to open your body during labor, which is what we want to happen. High pitched screams puts your body in a stress response, which will slow labor down, increase pain, and close the body — making labor more difficult.