When we think of labor we often think of pain. The one big thing that we do not think about is how to cope with normal pain and alleviate unnecessary pain.
One of the things that I do when I am teaching a class is to ask people ways that they have coped with other types of pain. We each think of other instances and what helped us and put it up on the board. This helps us realize what resources we really do have available.
Many women today fear labor. It is a simple fact. And yet another simple fact is that fear in labor (or anything) will increase your pain. This is called the fear/tension/pain cycle. All this states is that when you are fearful, you tense, when you tense you cause more pain.
So, let's start with the basics. Pain.
While a few women will state that labor was not painful at all, and a few more will state that it is the most excruciating pain that they have ever felt, most women will fall into the middle ground. Labor pain that is tolerable and desirable.
Pain comes from a couple of sources in labor. Generally these fall into three categories: emotional, functional, and physiological. Knowing what is causing the pain will help you deal with it. It is also important to realize that a certain amount of pain is normal and functional in labor, telling your body what is going on, allowing you to help yourself.
Your environment is something that you can control. Making yourself feel comfortable will aid in your ability to relax and concentrate on the job at hand.
Lighting - Most women find that lower lighting is more conducive to relaxation. You can try to maintain lower levels of light by using dimmers, closing blinds, etc.
Quiet - Not being asked questions during a contraction, not be subjected to chatter that is unimportant and hushed tones also aid in labor comfort.
Support - This can be your partner, your mother, friend, doula or a combination. Knowing that you are not alone, having people there to physically help you by massaging, providing you information, etc. can be a load off of your mind in labor.
Music - Some women find that music will relax them, while others may be annoyed by music. The key here is for the woman to choose the music to give birth or labor with.
Candles - they can set the environment, be conducive to relaxation, have a pleasant scent and provide warmth.
Aromatherapy - is designed to relieve tension and promote relaxation using different scents. There are some that are more geared towards labor, such as Lavender.