Deciding whether to receive pain medication during labor is a very personal decision that usually involves careful consideration of the potential pros and cons, as well as the advice of your medical team.
Unmedicated labor (sometimes called “natural birth”) may result in increased mobility, better control over the labor process, and for some people, shorter induction times, fewer tears, and faster postpartum recovery.
If you and your healthcare provider decide that an unmedicated birth is right for you, these tips may help as you prepare for your birthday.
Eat well and exercise
Maintaining a good diet and exercising throughout your pregnancy are very beneficial ways to prepare your body for labor. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, regular exercise can aid labor and may help reduce the risk of needing a C-section. If you weren’t very active before pregnancy, try starting slowly and pacing yourself. If you can, add a little more each day. Walking, low-impact or water aerobics, and yoga are great ways to stay active during pregnancy.
Likewise, good nutrition helps your baby grow and helps both of you stay healthy. Choose nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Get adequate calcium from dairy products, calcium-fortified products and green leafy vegetables. Limit caffeine intake, avoid alcohol and tobacco, and talk with your healthcare provider about recommended foods and foods to avoid during pregnancy.
Practice pain relief and relaxation techniques
There are many pain relief and relaxation methods you can try during labor. If you can, practice ahead of time to see what you like and what feels right for you. Some techniques to try include:
- breathing exercises
- Adjust position, move around, stretch
- labor ball
- Heating pad or ice pack
Communicate your goals
Make sure your support staff and medical team know you want to avoid pain medication so they can give you the encouragement you need throughout labor and help you practice relaxation and pain relief techniques. You may want to consider writing a birth plan so that your preferences are clearly outlined.
There are also huge benefits to discussing different scenarios with your team in advance, preparing for the unexpected, and understanding how your goals align with potential situations that arise.
Get to Know Your Parkview Family Birth Center
Parkview’s Family Birth Center not only offers everything you need during Labor Day, but also in the months leading up to Labor Day. In addition to staffing a highly skilled and supportive team, we offer family planning services, prenatal classes, lactation consultations, and more.
Be flexible if things don’t go as planned
Not everything during labor will go exactly as planned, so it’s important to allow for some flexibility. Sometimes, medication for pain relief or a C-section is necessary, and that’s okay. You may change your mind during labor and choose to take pain medication, and that’s okay. Ultimately, what matters most is the health and safety of you and your baby.
Parkview has an outstanding obstetrics and maternity program, with an amazing team of obstetricians, midwives, and nurses to provide you with a personalized birth experience. We are honored to be a part of this important time in your life and we are dedicated to helping you have a safe and healthy birth.
Copyrighted material adapted with permission from Healthwise, Incorporated. This information is not intended to replace your doctor’s advice.