The Only Labor Tip You Need
Labor is hard! Let’s get real, mamas…
We’ve heard stories all our lives, but until you’ve actually been there, it’s really not something you can fully comprehend or describe. But, what I think we all know is that you want it to go smoothly and quickly! There are tons of labor tips, classes and books out there, so I highly recommend being as prepared as you can and just do your best to remember what you can when the pressure is on!
My Labor Story
When I was pregnant with Samson, I started having pretty consistent Braxton Hicks contractions at about 36 weeks. They were often time-able and would start at about 12 min apart and get down to 10 min apart for 2-3 hours at a time. Then they would just disappear. As a first time mom, I was so confused! I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t missing something, that I wasn’t actually in labor and didn’t know! I was so afraid of not making it to the hospital when the time really came.
I looked up blog post after blog post and article after article about what to expect and how to know when it was time. Most of them said something really similar along the lines of “You’ll know when it’s real labor”. At the time, I thought that was crazy! That was not what I wanted to hear and didn’t help at all. But sure enough, 9 days before my due date, the REAL contractions started, and guess what… I just knew. It was a much more intense pain and tightening and it took my breath away almost immediately every time. About 13 or 14 hours after they started, they began to regulate. It was about 11 o clock at night and all I could think was “I should try to get as much sleep as possible because I could end up in the hospital tomorrow!” But, I didn’t get any sleep. The contractions were about every 20 – 30 minutes when I laid down for bed, so by the time I would start to doze off, another would hit. No rest for the weary.
Well, to make a long story short, we made it to the hospital by about 3am, and I was in pure agony. Every 4-5 minutes a contraction would hit and I couldn’t control it. I would clench my fists or hold my husband’s hand to try to just make it through until I could get some relief, but the relief periods were beginning to become very short. I was trying to stay calm and collected and remember everything I had learned in our birthing class about breathing, but after being monitored for hours without being able to walk or get anything to help with pain management, I was really struggling. I would say I was at about a 9 on a pain scale of 1-10, where 10 is the worst pain imaginable. That’s when the nurse came in, looked at the monitors and said so matter-of-fact, “your contractions are pretty moderate”. WHAT?!?! I couldn’t believe that the pain I was in could even be considered even close to moderate… Prior to this, I had planned on trying to have a natural birth with minimal intervention. After hearing this, I quickly began to reconsider. It was going to be at least another 2 hours before I could get any pain medication since I hadn’t even been admitted to the hospital yet, so I had to figure out how to manage and work through the pain until then.
And, as if the Lord knew what I needed in that moment, my nurse came in to talk to me. She gave me the best advice I could possibly imagine for easing labor, quickening it and managing your pain.
It sounds so easy as I am typing it now and reading it back to myself, but in the moment, it sounded crazy. But it drastically changed my labor. She told me that I had a long way to go and that I needed to find a better way to manage the pain. She explained to me how our body’s natural reaction to pain is to tense up, but the cervix needs to be relaxed to continue to dilate.
This was a huge turning point for me.
Listen, I’m gonna keep it real… this was NOT EASY. But, I began to focus my energy on my breath and away from my hands. I did everything I could to keep my hands relaxed. I focused on my pelvic floor and used all the energy I could muster to keep my lower body relaxed.
Getting up and walking was a huge help in this process. I was able to focus on step after step. I counted my steps and focused on the tiles on the floor. Hubby walked with me and helped keep my mind occupied as much as possible. Although, to be honest, I was probably only fully coherent for about half of the conversations.
This wasn’t just a relief for me in the short term, but keeping my cervix relaxed (relatively speaking) helped speed up my labor exponentially. When I first arrived at the hospital I wasn’t really progressing at all and I wasn’t dilated enough for them to keep me, but they had some concerns about baby’s heart rate, so they kept me for monitoring. After about 2 hours of contractions prior to this nurse angel’s advice, I hadn’t progressed at all. After taking her words to heart for the next 2 hours, I quickly progressed to 4 cm. Every check after that, the nurses were surprised and excited that I had progressed so quickly.
Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the most effective.
I will forever be grateful for the nurse who gave me this advice. It was really key to getting me through my labor.
The BEST tool for labor…
The most helpful laboring tool I can recommend to you is the peanut ball. THIS THING IS AMAZING. Between contractions, keeping your hips open can help to allow your cervix to stay further open and progress your labor more quickly. If you labor at all laying down, this will be very helpful to the process, but also may help you to be a little more comfortable. A win-win!
For you first-time-mamas prepping for labor, stay calm and stay focused. Your body is capable of more than you know. You got this!
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