Handling pain during labour: the Lamaze method & Breathing technique

Labour is often neither a short nor easy process. You might feel pain throughout your delivery, so it does help to think of methods and prepare yourself to handle pain during labour. 

If you are a first-time mother, you can consider using the Lamaze Method and breathing technique to help manage your pain during labour. 

What is the Lamaze Method?

Lamaze is a drug-free method to handle pain during childbirth. The Lamaze method is a program that encourages women to feel confident during labour, as well as to keep the delivery simple and safe. 

The Lamaze breathing technique is part of the Lamaze Method to help mothers relax and cope with pain during labour. Past research has found that controlled breathing promotes relaxation and reduces one’s pain perception, helping mothers deliver safely without medical interventions. This is especially crucial in restricted environments, where pharmacological options are unavailable. 

How Does The Lamaze Method Work?

The Lamaze breathing technique helps mothers manage their pain in labour on a cognitive and physiological level. 

By focusing on inhaling and exhaling during her delivery, the mother’s attention is focused on breathing correctly, which diverts her attention away from the pain during labour. Physiologically, as the mother’s breaths deepen, her uterine muscles will receive more oxygen, which promotes strong and effective contractions. As the mother’s breath slows down, it will also lower her heart rate, and improve her blood circulation, helping her body to relax, therefore, feeling less pain.

The Lamaze breathing technique requires you to maintain a rhythm when you are breathing. As your contractions begin, you should inhale deeply through your nose, then exhale slowly and deeply through your mouth, and create your own rhythm. By consciously controlling your breathing, you will be distracted from your pain, reducing your discomfort and pain during labour. 

Additionally, you should focus your attention on something else, like your partner, the ceiling or even the doctor, during your contractions, while breathing rapid breaths in and out of your mouth. You can also choose to verbalise your breath with a “hee” for shorter breaths and “hoo” for longer breaths. This can help you make your contractions more effective and reduce your time in labour. You must practice these techniques beforehand so that you can get used to these breathing patterns, and find the most comfortable pattern for you during labour. 

If you are going to deliver soon, do discuss with your doctor the methods or techniques that you have learnt or have in mind to handle pain during labour. It would be helpful to let your doctor know in advance, especially if you prefer to have a drug-free vaginal birth. However, do bear in mind that you might change your mind during labour, because of the circumstances, and that is completely all right. A healthy and safe delivery is the most important for both mother and baby.

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