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A Pain Management During Labor Trick

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.

Try this one thing for pain management during labor to cope with contractions. It really works! Even Ina May recommends it.

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!

My Experience

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?

Birth Team

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.

A tool for pain management during labor to add to your tool chest is keeping your eyes open during contractions and even make eye contact with someone.

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!

A tool for pain management during labor to add to your tool chest is keeping your eyes open during contractions and even make eye contact with someone.

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?


Wednesday 4th of April 2018

I actually had the opposite experience with my first labor. My doula kept insisting I open my eyes, because that had helped her doing her own labors. When I tried, it was like my pain increased ten-fold. With my eyes closed, I could focus on imagery that was helping me get through a fast, powerful labor. (I thought of a salmon swimming upstream, and it helped!) My doula finally gave up and rubbed my back, which was VERY helpful.

One thing I’ve learned after attending over 300 births myself is that there are no absolutes in birth (or anything else for that matter). We all experience things differently.


Monday 1st of August 2016

I just learned something new today. I am a physical therapist and I have never heard about this trick. Wow...I wish "eyes open" was in my arsenal when I worked in a rehab hospital! I have, however, experienced whirlpool ice baths back in my college sports days. And I will tell you, the female athletes handled it WAY BETTER than those "tough" football players. Ha!

Lindsey Morrow

Wednesday 3rd of August 2016

Awesome! So glad the internet has allowed us to all learn from each other.

Lindsey Morrow

Tuesday 2nd of August 2011

That's too funny that he was terrified. Good for him for sticking it out! I was at a birth today where the mama tried this and she said it helped. I can't wait to try this at my next birth.

January Dawn

Tuesday 2nd of August 2011

This was very, very interesting to me. My husband and I made eye contact and held hands (well, more likely I crushed his). I believe that it definitely 100% helped the pain management...although he told me the look in my eyes through each contraction was terrifying. For him. ;)