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Easing Labor Pains and Childbirth

The drama of childbirth has been immortalized in media through scenes full of mixed emotions where the mother experiences labor pains as each contraction brings the child closer and closer to a new world outside the womb. Like those movie scenes, many women go through a difficult pregnancy which makes childbirth a complicated procedure.

Each pregnant woman’s labor pains is unique. No one can really tell what triggers it but knowing labor symptoms will help you understand what is to be expected. Having more information about giving birth will help the mother to better prepare herself psychologically and physically. Here are some important phrases and terminology related to labor and childbirth that every woman should know:

Lightening when the baby settles deeper into the pelvis

Effacement – softening and thinning of cervix

Dilation – opening of the cervix

Vaginal spotting losing of mucus plug with bloody discharge

Nesting energetic urge to clean and organize baby’s things

Membrane rupture amniotic sac leaks or breaks before labor

Contractions – a sensation that your uterus is tightening and relaxing

Signs and symptoms are the woman’s body’s preparation for labor. But there is no clear-cut boundary between the body’s preparation and the actual labor process. Some women may have painful contractions for days without cervical changes while others feel only a little pressure or a back ache as the cervix gradually dilates.

Pre-term labor may be difficult to detect. Any signs or symptoms of labor before 36 weeks, especially if they’re accompanied by vaginal spotting, needs consultation with a physician. At term, labor will nearly always make itself apparent. However, if you arrive at the hospital in false labor, don’t feel embarrassed or frustrated. Just think of it as a practice run for the real thing is definitely on its way.

Most women consider relaxation exercises, breathing techniques or medication to manage the pains of labor. Some women want to give birth without the aid of drugs and consider complementary and alternative medicine to help them through the labor pain and delivery. Still, there are other choices which are non-traditional methods such as hypnosis, acupuncture, and reflexology.

Hypnosis is considered to be a focused state of concentration that allows the body to relax and helps guide one’s thoughts and control breathing. Hypnosis will not stop the pain of contractions but it will condition your mind to help you ride the wave of each contraction and trust in your body’s ability to give birth.

Learning self-hypnosis techniques, such as repeating positive statements to yourself, concentrating on vivid imagery or listening to a recording of verbal affirmations, may be acquired through private lessons or specialized childbirth classes.

Acupuncture is an ancient chinese practice based on the theory that energy flows through the body in channels known as meridians. Stimulating specific areas close to the skin, also known as acupuncture points, with hair-thin needles is thought to correct imbalances or disruptions in this energy flow. There’s a possibility that it may help treat nausea and vomiting of pregnant women as well as reducing labor pains depending on how the labor is progressing and the type of pain being experienced.

The practice of reflexology can be traced back to Egypt, China and India thousands of years ago. This method applies pressure to specific parts of the body, usually the soles of the feet, for an intended therapeutic effect on other parts of the body. Though scientists haven’t found evidence to support the theories of reflexology, some women find it helpful in relieving muscle tension and promoting relaxation during pregnancy.

It is said that applying pressure or strokes to specific points on the feet during labor somehow stimulates the pituitary gland to release hormones that speed labor and reduce pain.

Hypnosis, acupuncture, and reflexology may be promising methods to relieve pain during labor and delivery, but there is little scientific evidence to prove the effectiveness of these approaches and more research is needed to determine whether these techniques can actually relieve labor pains and provide relief in childbirth.

Working with professional health care provider may help if any of these methods can be right for you. Combining complementary treatments with other methods of pain relief and medication should always be consulted with your doctor.

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