Recently I asked two Kampala-based doulas, Courtney Kapuya and Laura Wando, to tell me the most effective comfort measures for a woman in labor. They said:
- Water – Being in a tub or shower during active labor is a great way to manage pain and discomfort. Water helps the mother feel more relaxed, which can also increase the release of hormones that help labor progress. Relaxation also promotes the release of endorphins to help the body cope with the contractions. Being in the water helps breathing become deeper and longer which provides more oxygen to the mother and baby helping them both be able to tolerate the physical requirements of labor.
- Create a calm environment – Dim the lights, play soft music, increase the temperature to 26.6 or above, and limit the amount of movement and talking by those in the room. A calm environment helps the woman feel safe, allowing her to let go of conscious thought and give in to the sensations of her body. This allows her to get into the rhythm of her contraction and develop a routine to manage the intensity of labor.
- Movement – Movement during labor, like walking, swaying, bouncing on a birth ball, slow dancing, etc, has proven benefits. It allows more room in the pelvis, uses gravity to your advantage, and avoids compression of the tailbone which can narrow the pelvic outlet. Movement can also provide comfort and help the mother relax. Upright labor positions like squatting, kneeling, standing, and being on all fours encourage the baby to move down into the pelvis and have been shown to reduce the length of labor and the need for a C section.
- Breathing – focused breathing during labor has many benefits. Deep breathing provides oxygen to mother and baby, and focusing on breathing can be distracting and calming. For example, when a contraction starts a mother can take a deep calming breath through her nose. As the contraction peaks in intensity, she can shorten the breaths and breathe more quickly in and out through the mouth. Then she can end the contraction with another slow calming breath.
- Hypnosis – Self-hypnosis programs (such as HypnoBabies©) are designed to reframe the birth experience from one of fear and pain to peace, enabling expectant moms to have a peaceful, comfortable pregnancy and birth experience. Hypnosis works through listening to tracks and cues that retrain the subconscious mind to change the perception of birth sensations. The hypnotic techniques include deep breathing, visualization and total body relaxation. For more information about Hypnobabies, visit their website www.hypnobabies.com or contact Laura Wando (contact info below) who has been trained in HypnoBabies.
For more information, you can contact Courtney or Laura: