One of the biggest concerns for all moms is “How am I going to cope with labor pain?” There are many things about having your baby at home that may make it easier to cope with pain:
Being in the private and familiar setting of your own home—your own bed, your own couch, your own kitchen with foods you like— all those things help you relax, which helps your hormones work normally to move labor along. Having the freedom to move about in your own home as you want, to wear your own clothes, to make loud sounds without disturbing someone else– all help to relax a woman. Often women go for a walk nearby their home—being out in nature, breathing in fresh air, feeling that fresh air on your skin, can make contractions seem more do-able. While labor is always a really intense experience, relaxation is the key to helping it progress smoothly and normally. And being in your own home can really help a woman relax.
When contractions get really hard, often women will automatically rub their bellies. Sometimes their support person or the midwife will rub their back, massage their shoulders, place a cool compress on their forehead. Touch is a simple but powerful tool for coping with labor’s intensity.
More and more women choose to use water to help them relax in labor. When your muscles are relaxed, it hurts less (It still hurts!) and water makes a huge difference in helping a woman relax. Some women choose to labor in a birthing tub, and some women choose to actually give birth in the tub. Some women choose to stand in a warm shower. If you don’t like full immersion, another really helpful thing to do is to apply warm compresses to the lower back and lower belly during the contractions. A crockpot can keep the water hot, and your midwife or support person can place the warm wash cloths on your back and belly as each contraction begins. Much like a heating pad during bad period cramps, it’s soothing! And helps you relax. Which helps labor progress. Which helps get the baby out. Which relieves the pain!
Doing a hard job is made easier by being surrounded by people who adore you, who think you’re the best, who completely believe in you.
While most moms don’t want a huge audience when they’re giving birth, to have one or two people by your side who adore you, along with your midwives—who also adore you—can truly make a big difference in coping with the challenge of labor.
Away from ready access to pain medications.
While some women in the hospital setting, choose an epidural and know they want that for pain relief, some women would like to avoid medications during labor if possible. But at some point in labor, when contractions are really strong and you’re getting tired, you might get scared or discouraged or doubt yourself, and ask for pain relief. In the home setting, where medications are not available without making a trip to the hospital, it is sometimes just a matter of getting extra support to get through a hard moment. It may be time to get in the shower for a few minutes. Or step outside on the back porch and look at the stars. It may be time to be alone with your support person, or have someone rub your back constantly to soothe you. Or just to be reminded that you are safe, and everything is going well, and “you’re doing it”.
Having witnessed hundreds of women giving birth, I appreciate the hard work that goes into getting our babies born. Each woman accomplishes that job in her own way. There is no right or wrong way to give birth. There’s just your way—you can choose what will work best for you.