Pain Management During Labor
In my current Birthin’ Again childbirth class we have had some fantastic pain management during labor discussions. Our discussions have been pretty juicy since all the moms have given birth before.
They have gone through it, and understand the pain coping mindset needed to give birth.
Open Your Eyes
During the discussion on Breath Awareness and Non-Focused Awareness one of the fathers mentioned how a physical therapist said to him that when you close your eyes your perception of pain is heightened.
Did you read that?
===> When you close your eyes your perception of pain is heightened.
I validated what he said and then added that written in Ina May’s books she has couples make eye contact with each other to cope during contractions. Eye contact can be a way of connecting with a partner or birth companion and it also helps integrate the contractions.
Closing the Eyes = Hard Labor
One of the mothers in the class responded saying that for her entire labor her eyes were closed and that she had a really tough time coping with normal labor pains. Her labor was unmedicated, but she wishes she were able to be more on top of the pain or have some sort of coping mechanism that actually worked.
Try it Out – Use Ice!
In my childbirth classes one way we simulate labor pain is by holding ice cubes for 60 seconds. I call this an “ice contraction”.
No, labor does not feel like holding an ice cube. However, holding ice cubes is a great way to feel pain, discomfort and to see what your response is. It’s a great teaching tool.
That same evening we opened or closed our eyes (depending on what worked for each individual) during our “ice contractions” but after our discussion we decided to keep our eyes open through the whole 60 second contraction. If each couple wanted they could try making eye contact as well.
The results were fantastic and even more so when the couples looked into each other’s eyes. Some people found that keeping their eyes open did in fact lessen their perception of pain. We all found this quite fascinating!
During my first birth, I kept my eyes closed the majority of the time. When I was in active heavy duty labor I didn’t want to be touched and moving was very painful.
I wonder, if I had opened my eyes and looked at Matt, would my experience have been any different?
During my second birth, when labor got hard I reverted back to closing my eyes. If someone had told me to open my eyes, however, I probably would have.
During my third birth, when it got hard I again kept my eyes closed. Alas, I do think that if someone specifically asked me to open my eyes I would have complied! I will never know!
TIP: Practice with a birth partner before labor and have them remind you to open your eyes during an “ice contraction”. The more you practice, the easier doing something like this will be during labor.
How About You?
A great tool for pain management during labor to add to your tool chest is keeping your eyes open during contractions. Better yet, make eye contact with your birth partner!
How did you cope during your labor? Were your eyes closed or open? If you haven’t given birth yet, how do you imagine yourself coping?