Pain Management in Early Labour
What You Need to Know from my Student Midwife.
Pain Relief during Labour
Every Pregnant woman wants to know her pain management options when it comes to labour and birth. Pain relief during labour is what we want to know about.
This podcast helps provide tips to help inform pregnant women of the options they have, including non-medicated pain relief options.
Listen to this incredible Podcast as we interview Allison Bayliss on Pain Management in Early Labour to help all pregnant women around the world.
What is Early Labour
Contractions can be intermittent, irregular and sometimes painful, some cervical effacement and dilation less than 4cm, up to 6cm. (NICE, 2014) Cervical dilation is slow however WHO outlines there should be at least one painful contraction every 8-10min in the latent phase.
Strong, effective contractions lead to cervical dilation, occurring approximately 2-3 times in 10min, lasting around 45-60sec and as labour continues becoming longer (up to 90sec+) with less time between them.
Contractions are generally stronger in the fundus than the lower uterine segment, due to higher muscle content in the fundus and higher connective tissue in the lower segment.
Basically, the contractions of the upper uterine segment continually pull on the lower, this allows dilation of the cervix to occur as the muscle cells of the fundus get shorter and fatter – retraction.
Full dilation occurs at 10cm.
Strong or effective contractions are needed to push the baby downwards toward the vagina.
The ideal is to feel confident in the identification of early labour, and have some skills and techniques to help support physiological labour and help make this time less stressful.
Strategies for Coping with Pain in Labor
There are a range of techniques you can use to help you manage pain in your labour, here are a few suggestions:
- Squats – use Swiss ball
- Breathing strategies – mindful/conscious
- Calming – meditations
- Massage – where? What? Who?
- Hug and cuddles, affection, kissing, sex
- Business as usual – cooking, dishes, spending time with family, eating & drinking, resting
- Shower – bath
- Household activities
- Energy – incense burning, positive vibes, cheerful onlookers
- Essential oil, massage oils – diffuser
- Low lighting, creating a calm space
- Heat packs, cool packs
- Leaning on the bench, ball, bed, pillows
- Logistics – transport, childcare, etc
- Watch a movie, TV, Netflix
- Walk the dog
Staying at home, or in an environment where you feel comfortable and relaxed is important in early labour
That phone conversation with the hospital
Knowing some of the questions that the hospital / midwife may ask you can help to prepare you:
- What is your gestation / how many weeks are you?
- Parity / State you are currently in
- Q: have you been well?
- Any dramas?
- Anything we should know about?
- Can you tell me about what’s been going on the last few hours?
- Fetal movements: have you been feeling baby move, can you describe baby’s movements?
- Have you had any vaginal discharge?
- Amniotic fluid – clear, how much
- Show – mucous plug + blood
- Normal discharge
- Where are you?
- How far to the hospital? Are you able to get yourself to the hospital?
- Is anyone with you? Who is with you? Are you happy + comfortable?
- Tightening – how often, how intense, how long do they last?
- How have you been coping? What sort of things have you been doing?
- What would you like to do?
Tips to Remember
Your home can often be more comfortable and calming than the hospital, so to stay there can help you to progress your labour.
Use whatever pain relief you need. Every woman is different and there is no judgement on your ‘weakness’ or ‘failure’ to go through labour with absolutely no pain relief.
Movement can really help. Changing positions as often as you feel you need to, and be guided by your support person or team.
Allison Bayliss, Student Midwife
Allison is currently studying midwifery and has a passion for helping and educating women.
After having two very different births of her two children, Allison left her career as a teacher to become a midwife.