Relaxation, Rhythm, and Ritual Coping Through First Stage Labor
As you begin prelabor, you may find yourself feeling many things. Excited, to finally being able to meet your little one. Anxious, to be starting the labor process and Unsure, if it is really begun and you are really experiencing labor contractions. During prelabor, you will probably be able to talk through or be easily distracted during each contraction. Once you enter early first stage, the contractions will start to become stronger and closer together. You will no longer be able to be easily distracted from them but no worries, there are many ways to help cope with the pain. Penny Simkin PT, and the "Master Yoda" of Doulas, has found that the women who cope best all have three things in common, Relaxation, Rhythm, and Ritual. These are often referred to as the Three Rs of Labor, and have helped many women throughout childbirth. You can read about it in several books, I recommend "The Birth Partner" by Penny Simkin.
The women who cope well during childbirth, exhibit relaxation between contractions and may even during each as well. Penny discusses relaxation in this YouTube video and achieving it through slow breathing.
Its also important to find your rhythm during this time. This can be done through your actions such as breathing, moaning, swaying, rocking, chanting or stroking. Rhythm is key to coping during the first stage of labor. Your birth partner or Doula can do these with you and should be encouraging you along.
Using a rhythmic activity through each contractions becomes your ritual. Its a good idea to pick a ritual and start practicing it during your pregnancy. A Doula can be helpful in guiding you and your partner through this during a prenatal visit. Once you are in early first stage, you can go to your practiced ritual. Its important to keep your rhythm and your partner or Doula can help you find it again if you loose it. Keep with the same ritual for as long as it works. You may even find yourself starting a spontaneous ritual, which is great, you are following your instincts and doing what's best and natural for you. If you begin to struggle, your partner or Doula may step in and give other suggestions. Just remember, do whatever works best and trust your body!