Your Options for Labor and Pain Management

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By Jessie van der Hagen, CNP, CNM, Family Medicine and Midwife

Jessica van der Hagen, FNP-C, CNMWhen we decide to become mothers we don’t always consider the process of labor and birth. As our pregnancy progresses and comes to an end, we become excited to meet “baby”. We start to think about labor and birth and start preparing for our journey. Labor and birth is not an easy task. There is really no way to ex­perience labor and birth without pain/discomfort. Believe it or not, the pain of labor is valuable.

The pain of each con­traction becomes a guide for the labor­ing woman. The positions and activities you choose in response to pain helps la­bor progress by increasing the strength of the contractions and encouraging the baby to move down the birth canal. So, if you need to walk, go for a walk. Try different positions to get comfortable. Use the birthing ball or if a shower/ tub offers comfort, get in the water. If you feel like squatting, squat. When it’s time to give birth, listen to your body, it knows what to do. Our bodies were made to grow and birth babies, it’s normal.

It is important to be prepared for your birth. Educate yourself on natural childbirth. Know that there are options for pain con­trol, both natural and with medications. Medications are always available if that is what you choose, but with medicines, come risk – for you and your baby. Learn about labor pain management including nitrous oxide, epidural and IV pain medication options at Glacial Ridge Hospital.

Practice relaxation. Relax every day. If you practice, your brain can take you there easier in time of need. Pre­pare mentally, as you will be challenged.

Have a supportive team. Your labor coach is extremely important. Use some­one you trust and feel comfortable with. Your nurses and midwife or physician are also there to cheer you on.

Be flexible and realistic. It’s great to have a birth plan with all your wishes spelled out, but know it may not all go according to your plan. No matter what your birth plan en­tails, pain medications or not, the goal is to have a healthy mom and baby. Birth is an amazing and beautiful process, but it won’t come without a lot of hard work and labor pain.

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