Birth: 30 Comfort Measures to Ease Labor Pain

What are the benefits of using comfort measures?
Basically, there are three ways of handling labor pain: comfort measures, narcotics (opiates) and regional analgesia, which consists of epidurals, intrathecal or spinal injections, and their combinations. Comfort measures are about as effective as narcotics at making labor tolerable. However, narcotics can potentially have adverse effects on you and your baby. And regional analgesia, while offering superior pain relief, can cause a host of problems not only for you and your baby, but for the labor as well.

Comfort measures:
Do not inhibit labor and in many cases, can enhance labor progress: Mobility and activities like pelvic rocking help the baby shift into the optimal position for birth. Upright postures allow gravity to help the baby open the cervix and descend into the birth canal. Strategies to relax muscles keep muscle tension from impeding the work of the uterus. Cognitive techniques reduce fear. Emotional distress, as opposed to the healthy, normal stress of labor, can interfere with labor directly through the production of stress hormones and indirectly by preventing women from paying attention to their bodies and working effectively with their labors.

Promote a sense of mastery: Studies show that the key to a positive labor experience is the feeling that you have control over events and can cope with what is happening to you (4-5,10). Comfort measures make you the active agent in helping yourself. This is an important component of a sense of mastery.

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