Pregnancy App Article: "Planning ahead: Natural pain relief"

Week 33
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Natural pain relief
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What are your options?
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If you’re planning to go ‘drug free’ for the birth, there are still lots of options for a helping hand Homeopathy, aromatherapy, acupuncture, reflexology, massage, music, and low lighting help some women soften the birth experience. Screaming obscenities is another option. Positive thinking is the best springboard – although a grim sense of foreboding will possibly get you just as far.

Breathing
Controlled, deep breathing can help to relax your muscles, slow your heart rate and focus your mind. And even if it doesn’t help with childbirth, it’s good practice for when your two-year-old starts screaming in the vegetable aisle at Asda.

Visualisation 
This can (apparently) be a powerful weapon in the fight against pain. Try to focus on what your body is doing, rather than fearing the pain. Also try to imagine your cervix opening with each contraction; each and every one has a purpose. And relax - think: ‘loose, soft mouth equals loose, soft vagina’. Then swear that you’ll never get yourself into this mess again. 

Aromatherapy 
Not pain relief as such, but certain aromatherapy oils can help you relax during labour. Fear and pain are closely linked, so anything that helps promote a calming atmosphere is good in our book. (Check you like the smell of each of the oils before you go into labour though.) If your hospital won’t let you use an oil burner/diffuser, you can get a similar effect by adding a few drops of your chosen oils to a bowl of hot water. (Whatever you do, don’t drink the stuff.) 
  • Clary sage – has analgesic and sedative properties, but don’t use if you’re also using gas and air.
  • Neroli – good if you’re feeling very scared or nervous.
  • Ylang ylang – calming.
  • Lavender – calming and good for aching backs and limbs (try a warm compress) and a great antiseptic. In fact, lavender is a hospital bag is essential, if only because you can put a few drops in the bath afterwards to help heal your bits. 
Hypnotherapy 
Some studies suggest that self-hypnosis during childbirth may ease some of the pain of labour, decrease anxiety and fear, lower the risk of medical complications and reduce the need for surgery. Quite impressive stuff, really. You can buy numerous books and CDs on the topic, but your best bet is probably to see a registered practitioner who specialises in teaching self-hypnosis during childbirth or offers traditional hypnosis with post-hypnotic suggestion: essentially they hypnotise you during your sessions and you are then taught triggers to get you back into that state during your labour.
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I had no pain relief during any of my three labours. But I did have fantastic antenatal classes, which taught me excellent breathing techniques for managing contractions.
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I found that vocalising - OK, mooing - rather than screaming, helped me manage the pain of contractions, and, while perhaps not serene, didn't stop me feeling calm.
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I am 33 weeks with my first baby. I am truly relaxed, not because I'm going in under an illusion that hypnobirthing will magically give me a zen birth, but rather that anything could happen, and I'll be ready with all my heart. I am resting well, sleeping well, and have left it to the future to enfold itself.
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