Childbirth is one heck of a marathon effort. An effort that feels Herculean on the best of days. And whilst rocking our births like the rock star goddesses we are (duh!) over the last 200, 000 years, – it’s clear that one can never have too many good old fashioned tricks for coping with the intensity of contractions in child birth. Although every woman will labor entirely differently and each one of us will cope with our surges in different ways, there is no harm in having an arsenal full of tools to use, should you need them. Of course, the purpose of labor is to have a baby and it is vital to remember that avoiding pain at all costs should not be your main priority. It is pain with purpose and that perspective can make all the difference when it comes to crunch time.
Click bait or not, the following suggestions come tried, tested and true from the juiciest wombs pulsating across the horizons of this planet.
1. High Pressure Shower Heads
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have most probably heard or seen the rise of women birthing in water. No surprise at all, since warm water is incredibly effective at easing pain relief. Kind of like when you have a killer head ache or period pain and you soak in a hot tub, the same goes for labor pains! On top of this, the water helps make you buoyant, thus creating a sense of weightlessness and taking off pressure from your lower back, legs and uterus. But what you most probably don’t hear discussed as often, is the use of a high pressure shower head in labor. Sheesh, you have no idea what you’ve been missing out on mama. Traditionally, hydrotherapy is the use of water as treatment for conditions, injuries or paralysis. Massage therapy is the manipulation of soft tissues to enhance a person’s health or well-being. Acupuncture (or acupressure) is the application of pressure on specific points of the body to target pain relief, relaxation and well-being. If we bring all of those same principles and combine them with the high pressure function of the shower head we get one Chuck Norris style roundhouse that packs some serious punch in alleviating whatever discomfort you may be feeling. Because most hospitals or birth centers have ancient shower heads (and pretty awful water pressure!), I do recommend you pick up an updated head from your local hardware store and install it as soon as you can. Did I mention installation is straightforward and simple? Having it handy will keep you laboring in the comfort of your home for longer (avoiding premature arrival to hospital, unnecessary intervention or induction, etc.) with the option of hopping into the shower whenever you need the extra help & relief.
High Pressure Shower Head
2. Water-proof Bullet Vibrators
Authors Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman penned a fantastic book titled, ‘The Unofficial Guide To Having A Baby‘. (If you haven’t read it, I recommend you do!) In it, they explore the use of clitoral stimulation and orgasm as a means of pain relief in labor. According to their writings, one orgasm is thought to be 22 times as relaxing as the use of a tranquilizer AND arousal widens the vagina by up to 2″. Orgasmic birth expert Debra Pascali Bonaro agrees it is a great alternative to medicated pain relief and so do I. So besides being an obviously handy tool (pun intended), a mini vibrator gives you a discreet, reliable source of stimulation to use when ever you need a gentle analgesic to alleviate the pain. Additionally, a vibrator will target sensory loaded areas of the clitoris, vulva and cervix – pleasure points that release oxytocin (the ‘love hormone’ that also prompts contractions, milk let down, etc.) to help encourage your body to function optimally in labor. Self-stimulation also helps you to focus and re-direct your energy on something other than your surges, while giving you an opportunity to turn pain into pleasure. Although this hot tip may sound a bit foreign to the many of us who have been taught that sexuality does not have a place in childbirth, you would be surprised at how effective this natural pain relief method is if we just give it a chance.
Waterproof Bullet Size Vibrator
3. Aromatherapy using Essential Oils
We all have our favorite smells. Smells that evoke the strongest nostalgia, smells that spark the most vivid memories. Smells that transport us to a place we have never been. Smells that put smiles on our faces. Smells that remind us of our favorite person. Smells that inspire a whole range of emotions. This is exactly what aromatherapy is all about. Using the powerful highly concentrated oils of plants & herbs; they are smelt, tasted or applied to the skin in order to absorb the benefit of that particular oil or blend. For example, one oil may trigger a message that gets wired to your brain that might promote a heightened sense of well-being and happiness. One oil may have a warming affect when applied, encouraging healthy circulation and vitality. When added to the bath, one oil may help to drastically aid in relaxing after bouts of insomnia or anxiety. When it comes to pregnancy and labor, there are dozens of epic oils you can use to compliment your routine, needs or desires. Clary sage, rose, lavender, frankincense, neroli, sweet orange – whatever you choose to use, you can expect a variety of benefits such as easing muscle tension, finding calm contractions, easing nausea, encouraging more effective contractions and inspiring confidence in a laboring mama who is full of self doubt. Combining the powers of touch with essential oils, massage is my favorite way to reap the joys of this complimentary therapy in labor.
4. Singing Bowls
Ok, hear me out because this one might sound a tad airy fairy BUT it works! Singing bowls are a type of bell, a standing bell. “Rather than hanging inverted or attached to a handle, singing bowls sit with the bottom surface resting, and the rim vibrates to produce sound characterized by a fundamental frequency (first harmonic) and usually two audible harmonic overtones (second and third harmonic).” They are used worldwide for meditation, relaxation and for other well-being purposes. I suggest Youtubing some examples to get a full grasp of the power of this sound. You can hire a number of individuals who know how to use them brilliantly. Many women who use them in childbirth cite out of body feelings, more productive contractions, higher pain threshold, a feeling of connection to themselves and to their baby, feeling more relaxed and in tune and more. A really magical sound that roots you and taps you into a really special place. Soundbirth has a great program available to all laboring mamas you should def check out.
Singing bowls with SoundBirth
Have you tried any of the above? What was your experience like? Share your story below or through Facebook & Instagram.