Many women have feared the pain of labor since childhood. Even before anyone tells you that it’s painful, it’s easy to draw such a conclusion when you consider what you know about the size of a baby versus what you know about female anatomy. Until more detail is explained in health class, it doesn’t even seem physically possibly. Once you realize it’s possible, it doesn’t seem any less painful. Such fear drives many women to having planned cesarean sections. While advances in surgery and modern medicine have made C-sections safer than ever, they are still riskier than vaginal birth, so the latter is preferable. Women that do commit to vaginal birth often seek methods of pain management during their labor that can help them through the experience. Labor massages are one proven way to manage pain during childbirth, so if you’re having a baby soon, you should look into your options.

Getting a massage during labor helps in a number of ways. First, like most massages, it simply puts you at ease by consistently reminding you to relax your tense muscles. Being at ease during your birth will make it less painful because you won’t be contracting your body, including the muscles in your pelvic area. Next, the massage will increase circulation in your body so that blood flows more easily, which will make birth easier. Also, a deep and slow massage can help you slow your breathing down. Essentially, getting a massage also makes the breathing exercises you learned in Lamaze class more effective.

The best part about labor massages is that, as long as you trust your spouse to administer them, they’re free. Of course, hiring a doula or a masseuse to come into the room with you and massage you through childbirth would work much better, but it could get expensive. Work with your spouse before you go into labor by researching different labor massage techniques and pressure points. You could even do a few practice rounds together so that he knows how hard to go, and so that you get a little pre-labor relation.

Having a vaginal childbirth can be intimidating, especially since it’s a day many of us have feared since we accidentally saw live labor on the Discovery channel. However, when the day finally comes, be prepared with techniques to relieve the pain. Having a spouse or doula ready with message techniques will help.

Source: Mahin Kamalifard et al: The Efficacy of Massage Therapy and Breathing Techniques on Pain Intensity and Physiological Responses to Labor Pain. Journal of Caring Sciences Volume 1 Issue 2 pp. 73-78 2012

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