HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH PAIN?
By Andrea Eastman, MA, CCE, IBCLC
I remember feeling like such a failure after the birth of my first daughter because I was unable to lay still and relax while I was in pain during contractions, as I was taught in my Bradley Methiod classes. All of the videos and pictures in books showed the laboring women lying there peacefully on their sides. One of the books even stated that the side-lying position was the best one for labor. Well, not for me!
Later on, I realized that the Bradley Method® failed me - I did not fail. As I was doing my own research to prepare for the birth of my second daughter, I came across a book called "An Easier Childbirth" by Gayle Peterson. What a revelation for me! She discusses the fact that we all deal with pain in different ways - auditory, kinesthetic, visual - and gives exercises to help women determine their own coping styles.
How do you deal with pain? I remember one time, I was walking in a darkened room and kicked the end of a rocker with the top of my foot. What was the very first thing that I did? I grabbed my foot, started hopping up and down, cursing under my breath while I was grinding my teeth. After some time, I realized that it was a good time to practice my relaxation skills, and so I flopped on the floor, let out a deep breath, and relaxed.
But my first instinct was to use movement and sound to deal with my pain!
Peterson writes in her book "When we can identify our primary channel for receiving information, we can enhance our natural coping style for dealing with pain in labor. Some women suppress their natural style because they have been taught relaxation and breathing techniques that do not take into account their unique way of processing the labor experience."
Women have many different ways of dealing with pain during labor. When left to uninhibited expression, a large percentage will moan or make some use of sound during labor. These women use an AUDITORY means of expression for dealing with their pain. Other women may squeeze a pillow or a friend's hand or even want to move around as a way of meeting the contractions. These women are KINESTHETIC in their coping style. They need to express their pain physically. Still others prefer to use internal or external visual images for traveling through contractions. These women primarily use a VISUAL means of coping with pain.
During my second birth I used active birth techniques to use gravity to my benefit and have less pain. During the tough contractions, I found myself kneeling forward on my hands and knees (with my knees spread far apart to open up my pelvis) slowly rocking, almost like I was rocking the baby. Sometimes I would moan, other times I would visualize a rose (or lotus flower) opening petal by petal. Between the contractions, I would flop on the floor, breathe deeply, and relax. When the next contraction would start building, I would get back on my hands and knees and start rocking again.
Think about how you deal with pain. Keep a list. Read Peterson's book. And prepare for your birth by practicing your primary coping style, along with the others. Listen to your body, and follow your body's cue. Your body will guide you if you let it.
An Easier Childbirth: A Mother's Guide for Birthing Normally - By Gayle Peterson
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