Managing labor without drugs

Auditory Coping
The only negative way of coping is holding your breath. Sometimes you won't notice you are doing so because it is instinctive if you have been taught to hold in your feelings and not express yourself. It is important to continue breathing through contractions. One way for your partner to know for sure you are breathing is if he can hear it.


Usually women stifle their breathing due to a conditioned response to hide pain or because they do not want to cause others distress. Remember this is your labor. Do what works for you and let others take care of themselves. Work towards expression and release if your tendency is to hold back. By doing so, you will be getting ready for labor.

Do the simulated contraction exercise again, this time purposely giving some sound to your breath. Hissing is good because it engages the diaphragm, even though in labor you would use a moan instead of hissing, because the internal pressure of the contraction would be present. A low hum or hiss is best for this exercise.

When the pinch begins to peak, use the sound of your breathing to carry you through it. Increase the hiss to a very loud sound. Put all the pain into the sound of your breath, making it louder the more pain you feel. Let the sound diminish as the pain ebbs away and you don't need the sound to help you.

Kinesthetic Coping
Some women need to use movement or to meet the pain by squeezing a pillow or even their partner's hand, if he is willing. As long as you are breathing it is a useful technique for traveling through contractions. However when women squeeze and hold their breath, they are really squeezing inside instead of externally, tightening the respiratory and other internal body pathways.

It is entirely possible to squeeze or tighten your fist without tensing the internal organs as the voluntary and involuntary nervous systems work in opposition most of the time. Therefore it is not the case that if you are furrowing your brow, unfurrowing it will be better for labor. In fact it is unrealistic for women to expect they will totally relax all muscles during a contraction. Women who cope kinesthetically usually need to express their pain physically. By squeezing a pillow with your hand, you can express this tension externally thereby lessening the likelihood of inner tension. As long as you continue to breathe, your physical expression will help you through the contraction.


Repeat the simulated contraction with your partner, this time using the squeezing to express and release pain at the peak of the contraction. You may also want to do both the auditory and the kinesthetic together, particularly if you are inclined to hold your breath.

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