We all know pregnancy can be one of the most challenging and uncomfortable times in a woman’s life. One of the most taxing parts of any pregnancy is typically the labor – which lasts, on average, right around 12 hours. What if we told you there’s a way to shorten the uncomfortableness and pain you may experience by up to 90 minutes (Editor’s note: Yes, please!). Do we have your attention, now?
To help a momma out, the medical professionals at CentraState Healthcare System in Freehold have created a simple list of 10 ways to make your labor shorter and more comfortable, something us mamas at NJMOM can definitely get behind. Let us know in the comments below if you’ve used any of these tools during your labor.
1. Incorporate peanut balls
Peanut balls are inflatable birthing balls shaped like—you guessed it—a peanut. After receiving an epidural, a peanut ball helps you find the most comfortable position and can make your labor shorter. The ball is placed between your legs to move you into the best position for labor and open up the baby tube. This gives the baby room to rotate and descend to the birth canal, which speeds up the entire process.
A recent study involving 200 pregnant women found that peanut balls decreased the first stage of labor (about 12 hours) by 90 minutes, the second stage (one to three hours) by 20 minutes, and reduced the need for a C-section by 12 percent. Less time in the hospital bed means more time with your new little one.
“I’ve seen the benefits of using a peanut ball in my own practice. Recently, my patient had been pushing for nearly three hours and wasn’t making much progress. A nurse instructed the future mom how to get into position using the ball, and shortly thereafter we saw the baby’s head crown. Without the peanut ball, the patient probably would’ve needed a C-section.” – Safrir Neuwirth, MD, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist at CentraState Healthcare System
2. Lean over a birthing ball
A birthing ball is a round exercise ball that you sit on to apply pressure to your perineum, which decreases the sensation of pain. You can kneel and lean over the ball for support and to relax your pelvic floor.
It’s a giant medicine ball you’d use at the gym – but for other reasons.
3. Say “ahhhhh” in a warm whirlpool tub
The soothing properties of a warm whirlpool tub can help relax you and decrease the need for pain medication. The heat increases blood flow and ultimately calms the body down. You’ll need as much calmness as you can get when you’re pushing out a new human.
4. Use therapeutic essential oils
If you use candles or essential oils to de-stress at home, consider using aromatherapy during labor to reap the same benefits. The oils will work their magic while your mind and body will help you relax and let go. At NJMOM, some of our favorites are lavender – for relaxation, rosemary – to alleviate muscle pain, and lemon – to alleviate pain and treat exhaustion.
5. Move around
Changing your position can help move labor along. Sometimes it’s just the way the baby is sitting in the womb that needs a little tweaking. Whether it’s sitting, walking, or switching sides, before receiving an epidural, try to change your position often to ensure labor progresses and to ease your pain.
6. Listen to peaceful music or sounds
Audio-analgesia is the use of music, white noise or environmental sounds to boost mood, reduce anxiety and stress. It can also lessen pain during labor. Remember to load some soothing sounds or download an app on your smartphone in preparation. Some of our favorite sounds include waves crashing in the ocean, a light rainfall, or the sounds of nature.
7. Breathe rhythmically
Breathing techniques relieve tension and provide a helpful distraction during labor. Use rhythmic breathing like Lamaze exercises during contractions to help ease the pain. Just like during your favorite yoga class, take deep, cleansing breaths. This breathing technique is proven to calm the mind and body – something you definitely welcome during labor.
8. Don’t be afraid of an epidural
Some patients are concerned that having an epidural means they won’t have a vaginal delivery. The reality is that the type of anesthesia doesn’t increase your risk of having a C-section and can lead to a more comfortable labor. You know your body better than anyone else, so always go with your gut and do what’s best for you.
9. Have an open mind
Go into the experience with an open mind. A birth plan details an ideal order of events, but it isn’t a script. Sometimes circumstances change, so it’s important to be flexible and trust that your care team will accommodate your wishes as best as they can.
10. Keep caring, supportive people around you
Having a helpful, caring support system in the room with you is just as important as the remedies listed above. An attentive spouse, partner, friend, doula, or family member will help you feel more at ease and provide reassurance that you will, indeed, get through this.
These techniques are practiced at the First Impressions Maternity Center at CentraState Healthcare System in Freehold. Staffed by board-certified OB/GYNs, neonatologists and anesthesiologists, the center offers private labor and delivery rooms.
To schedule a maternity tour, call (732) 308-0570. For more information on these techniques and how to best prepare for labor, join us for a childbirth prep class.
This post is sponsored by CentraState Healthcare System, but we’ve given birth a time or five, and these tips helped us out tremendously.