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Pain and how distraction techniques work

17 February 2014
Published in Blog

At a post natal visit with a recent client I was curious to hear first hand how she observed her own pain coping techniques in labour.  She shared with me what she noticed. During 2nd stage (when she was breathing/grunting/pushing) her baby down she found herself very focused on being able to take her focus to the baby.  She was encouraged to be actively working with her body to bring the baby down lower with each contraction.  This mum had some gas through the labour but nothing else.  So she was upright, active and open in her posture to help the baby descend.  

After 2 1/2 hrs of active 2nd stage  there seemed to be little progress and an internal check was advised in order to see what was happening.  The mother agreed and was checked.  She was fully dilated but there was caput (swelling) on the baby's skull, which she was told indicated that the baby had been in that position for a while and was not progressing.  With the baby still above spines (the narrowest part of the pelvis) she was told that a caesarean would be necessary.  We asked questions, checked if there were any alternatives and asked for some time to process this information.  She felt disappointed to hear this and suddenly her pain felt different.  

With the reason for the 'pain' seeming now to have lost its purpose she increasingly became overwhelmed by the same sensations that moments earlier were manageable.  Shortly after, she was being prepared for theatre.  During which she started to 'lose it'!  The options for gas and tens machine were taken away so that a spinal could be given.  Moments before she received pain relief a midwife looked her in the eyes and calmly spoke to encouraged her.  The birthing woman started to focus again, the pain eased and she felt that with each contraction she could breath her way through it like she did before.  Soon after the spinal took effect. 

What she reflected back to me when we met a couple of days later was interesting to hear and I asked if I could blog about it.  She said she could see how much her frame of mind influenced her perception of the pain.  She also noticed that when she focused on how her body was working with her baby it made all the difference in the world.  It gave her the oomph to give it her all and in the end she says she feels very proud of her efforts.