Labor and delivery: How to cope with both


Pregnant woman

Giving forth to new life is a natural phenomenon, desired by almost if not all living creatures. Couples go through highly exciting emotions once a desired conception is confirmed. But unlike other less intelligent living creatures, anxieties about labor and delivery slowly start to creep in towards the end of the pregnancy.

One of the main causes of anxiety about labor and delivery is the pain associated with the whole process. This is usually coupled with the fear of unexpected events that may happen. Several strategies can help couples cope with such fears.

For starters, couples should make every effort to attend the antenatal classes. These are usually conducted by midwives, aiming to discuss the process of labor and delivery. Couples can better understand how the female body adapts to labor, and things they can do to make the delivery more bearable. Fears and myths get clarified, dos and don’ts are discussed. Greater understanding of the process of labor allows individuals to take charge of their delivery, make individual birth plans and cope better.

It is worthwhile visiting your chosen delivery unit well in advance. You can simply walk in or visit on a specified day. Designated labor ward staff would normally give you a guided tour, allowing you to become familiar with the layout and facilities available. Such a visit adds a level of confidence and makes you feel more secure that your delivery will take place in a safe environment.

What about pain? There is quite a wide choice of pain relief in labor, the best strategy is to think about all the options well in advance. Choices range from simple pain killers, injections and inhaled gas, to epidurals. Some trendy and fancy gadgets called TENS machines (more akin to acupuncture) are also available and useful. Have a discussion with your Obstetrician, and ask questions to enable you to make a choice on pain relief. Not a single option suits everyone, your choice may be influenced by several factors. But nobody needs to go through unbearable labor pains when so much choice exists.

There is a common misconception about the safety of epidurals. Having an epidural in labor involves injecting pain-relieving medicines in a defined space on the spine. The injection blocks pain perception in the pelvis, allowing labor to progress without undue discomfort. The safety of epidurals is not in question, and the desired effect of pain control in labor is superior to other options. If in doubt about having an epidural, request for an information leaflet or speak to your Obstetrician or Anesthetist.

One final thing, please bring somebody to stay with you during labor and delivery. This can be your partner, sister, friend, mother or anybody else of your choice. Scientific studies show beneficial effects when somebody accompanies you during labor.

Labor and delivery is a natural process thus coping strategies are plenty.

By: Dr. Murage,
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