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Midwifery at WHA: How will I manage the pain of labor?

Posted November 12, 2013

Music and movement help ease childbirth, research shows.

Editor's Note: Midwifery at Women's Health Alliance, the sponsor of our Go Ask Mom Cutest Baby Contest, will be offering some health information during the next couple of weeks. Click here to read an earlier post about Centering Pregnancy.

Finding ways to manage the pain of labor can be both challenging and rewarding. Most women wonder what labor will feel like, and how much it will hurt. They wonder if they can handle the pain, and if it "means something" if they can’t. Some feel confident, while others are fearful. Some women are motivated to minimize the pain of labor through medication or epidural anesthesia. Others feel committed to having a natural birth without intervention.

When you think about your birth, you may enlist several family members or a doula to be present to support you through an unmedicated birth. Or, you may plan to labor with your partner only as long as you can "take it." Then you may choose to have IV pain medicine, or an epidural. Maybe you start with the intention of an unmedicated birth, but the labor takes unexpected turns and you request an epidural.

Your labor and birth should be an event that empowers you. You should feel heard and supported. Your questions and concerns should be answered so that you ultimately make the choice that is best for you. Birth plans are made to be changed, just as we change outdoor event activities to accommodate unexpected changes in the weather. Midwifery at WHA logo

Pregnant women and their partners may be reluctant to use the care of a Certified Nurse Midwife because they have heard it means they can’t have pain medication or an epidural. This is a common misconception. We, as midwives, have been trained in many methods of labor support, and pain management and will individualize your care.

We will incorporate as many of these methods as you find helpful. We may suggest non-medical therapies such as the presence of supportive people, hydrotherapy, massage, position changes, hot or cold compresses, breathing and relaxation techniques, or accupressure (to name a few).

Midwives encourage our moms to educate themselves about medication and epidurals so they have the information they need to make informed choices. Many of our moms use medication or have an epidural and make it a part of their original birth plan.

Remember that your birth is as unique as you are. Your birth will be different from your mom, cousin, friend, or the lady behind you in the grocery check out. Learn your options, prepare, and communicate your desires with those who will be present on that special day. Consider using a nurse-midwife for your care. Not only will you have many options available for pain management during labor, but you will be an active participant your care.

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  • babbleon1 Nov 13, 6:29 p.m.

    Main thing: Do what works for you, and make sure everyone on your team is supporting your choices.

    I was going to try natural, but gestational diabetes + an induction meant I couldn't leave the bed. Since I couldn't do most of the pain management techniques, I went with an epidural, and everything turned out great. I watched the birth in a mirror, was aware enough to ask questions, and had a great time. My husband supported my decisions all the way through, and the doctor and nurse laid out the options clearly, before the induction started.

    Two of my friends have had more than one natural birth. Both were able to do pain mgmt, such as a water birth and walking. Neither sneered at me for my induction, because they are real friends, not competitors. Their kids are fine too.

    Do what works for *you*.