Empowered Hospital Birth Series Part III: Comfort Measures
Let's help manage the intensity of this 'rock your world' experience that you are about to have. Comfort measures sounds like someone might try to find you a comfy couch and some fuzzy slippers but its going to take a little more than fuzzy slippers to work through the powerful labor of love involved in bringing your baby into this world. The intensity of childbirth is like none other, but fortunately, there is so much we can do to support a Momma as she works through labor with her baby. Check out some options for non-medical ways to manage pain in labor.
Hospital Approved Comfort Measures:
Birth Ball- The birth ball is so useful because of its versatility. Not only do birth balls come in different sizes, they also come in different shapes. The bigger, round balls are great for sitting, rocking, and leaning in times of rest. The peanut shapes balls can be propped between the knees to help keep the hips open, leaving room for baby's head to descend. Sometimes you can get lucky and get a large peanut ball that can help you if you need more balance than the standard round ball, because it has a comfy little spot to sit and you can only roll two ways. If you're required to stay in the bed, both the peanut and round ball can help you get comfortable in different positions on or near the bed.
Water- Most hospitals offer different forms of hydrotherapy in the labor and delivery rooms, in the form of a tub or shower. Many women find it helpful to labor in the shower with the stream of water pointed at wherever their pain is most intense, usually the back or low belly. The size of most hospital tubs are too small for women to comfortably labor in for a long time without getting tired, however some hospitals allow inflatable birth tubs in the room. Be sure to check with the hospital policies, because chances are you will not be able to deliver in the tub.
Dancing- Movement of the hips and body certainly help the baby to get into the proper position to make his way down through the pelvis. Dancing also relieve tension and welcomes fun and intimacy into the room.
Walking- Enjoy walking the halls and moving around. Go for a stroll with your partner or your doula and check out the labor and delivery wing. If the staff isn't comfortable with you being in the hallways (sometimes they are sticklers for HIPAA reasons) you can make a game of walking around the room. Play around making patterns and going from corner to corner, count laps if it helps pass the time.
Hot and Cold- Hot packs are great for cramping and contractions on the lower back and belly. Sometimes ice and heat alternating are enough to distract women from the intensity of the contractions. Toward the end of labor Moms usually like cold washcloths on their face as things start to get more intense.
Massage- Women in labor experience touch in many different ways. Many women don't want to be touched at all, in which case it can be helpful to teach the laboring mother ways to self-massage and self soothe. Some women request constant touch throughout labor, with extra attention during the peak of contractions. Squeezing the hips can be helpful for contractions that wrap around the front of the belly and counter pressure on the lower back can ease pain and tightness in the lower back.
Rebozo-This large shawl used for many years by Mexican midwives will wrap around the belly in different ways to relieve pressure from the hips and back. The rebozo can be used by the partner, midwife, doula or the laboring woman herself.
** The most important comfort measure is a strong support team who can tune into you, the laboring mother, and help with what you need in the moment, each moment, until that baby is safely in your arms. **