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Easing Early Labour Pains

Pregnancy, how to ease early labour pains

The start of labour pains does not necessarily mean that childbirth will occur soon thereafter. Some women may only be in labour for a few hours while for others the ordeal can last for one to two days. Labour pains are a natural part of childbirth but it is challenging for any women. Modern drugs have proven to be useful in this regard but it is not always advisable for a prolonged labour. Instead other measures to comfort the mother and ease the early labour pains should be considered.

Some women have a higher pain threshold and are able to contend with labour pain for a longer period without any intervention. For most women however, simple conservative measures may be sufficient until drugs are feasible to use. Easing early labour pains should involve the partner as simple reassurance and support may be sufficient to make the experience tolerable. Even soothing music may help some women stay calm and deal with the pain.

However, more definitive measures are required at some point before opting for drugs. Various techniques have been explored and while the results may vary, all of these measures are safe options for easing early labour pains. Breathing, massage and heat or cold therapy are some of the more widely preferred options. These non-invasive techniques do not pose any risk to the baby and may in fact be helpful – if the mother unable to handle the pain, the stress response can affect the baby.

Yoga at home

Two Fantastic Relaxation Techniques

Body Scan

Sit or lay down in a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed and close your eyes. Take in a slow, deep breath through your nose and exhale completely.

Place your awareness in your forehead and scalp. Allow any tension in the forehead and scalp to drain over the back of the head and out of the base of your neck into infinity. Your eyes are gently closed. Ease away the frown. Wiggle your jaw from side to side to loosen the tension. Your tongue should be behind your lower teeth.

Focus your awareness on your right shoulder and arm. Allow any tension in the right shoulder and arm to drain down the arm, out the fingers and into infinity.

Focus your awareness on your left shoulder and arm. Allow any tension in the left shoulder and arm to drain down the arm, out the fingers and into infinity.

Focus on the chest area. Feel the chest area opening and expanding.

Focus on the stomach. Allow the stomach to relax. Releasing and relaxing. You’re breathing easily and deeply.

Focus your awareness on the back area. Upper back, middle back, and lower back. Allow any tension in the back area to slide down the spine, out the base of the spine, into infinity.

Focus your attention on your right hip and leg. Allow any tension in the right hip and leg to drain down the leg. Down the leg, out the toes, into infinity.

Focus your attention on your left hip and leg. Allow any tension in the left hip and leg to drain down the leg. Down the leg, out the toes, into infinity.

You feel completely relaxed from head to toe—more relaxed than you have been in a long while.

Mindful Meditation

Find yourself a comfortable position and close your eyes. Bring your attention to the present moment and focus on your breath, breathing normally and naturally. You can place your awareness either at the tip of your nose or upon your abdomen. If you‘re focusing on the tip of the nose, feel the touch of cool air up your nostrils and down your throat as you inhale and the warmth of air as you exhale. If you‘re focusing on the abdomen, feel the belly push upwards on inhaling and contract on exhaling. Be aware of each inhalation and each exhalation. Watch the breath going in and out without judgment. Be in the present, and notice the breath. Watch each breath appear and disappear. Merely breathing.

Let go of your awareness of the breath and bring your attention to your body. Feel and observe without judgment. Acknowledge the multitude of sensations moment to moment. If there are areas in the body where there is discomfort, allow it to ease if possible. If the discomfort remains, then let it be there and observe the sensations. Observe your body without judgment. Sensations come, sensations go. Merely sensations.

Let go of your awareness of sensations and bring your attention to your mind. To your thoughts and emotions. Observe the mind without judgment. Acknowledge the multitude of mental shapes moment to moment. As if you were standing by the sea, watching the tide come in and go out, watch the mind in the same way. Thoughts come, thoughts go. Merely thoughts.

Let go of your awareness of the mind and bring your attention to your hearing. Observe the sounds without judgment. Acknowledge the multitude of varying sounds internally or externally. Moment to moment, sounds come and sounds go. Merely sounds.

Returning to the breath and feeling the whole body as you breathe in and out. Feel the whole of your body expand with an inhalation and contract on an exhalation. Becoming more mindful of your body. Of the room that you are in. When you are ready open your eyes, feeling however you choose to feel.


Sleep Management: Waking During the Night

•Don’t watch the clock as this will only make you anxious. If you experience interrupted sleep, cover the clock with a cloth.
•If you are still awake after 30 minutes, get out of bed. Leave the bedroom. Read, have a light snack, do some quiet activity, or take a bath. Avoid challenging or activities such as office work, TV, housework, etc. Don’t expose yourself to bright light as the light gives cues to your brain that it is time to wake up.
•Enjoy some turkey. Turkey contains tryptophan, a major building block for making serotonin, a neurotransmitter, which sends messages between nerve cells and causes feelings of sleepiness.
•Quiet ears exercise: Lie on your back with your eyes closed. Place your hands behind your head. Make sure they are relaxed. Place your thumbs in your ears so that you close the ear canal. You will hear a high-pitched rushing sound. This is normal. Listen to this sound for 10-15 minutes. Then put your arms at your sides, actively relax them and go to sleep.
•Avoid being angry with yourself or the world if you can’t sleep.
•Go on a mind holiday. Pop on a lavender filled eye mask. Take your mind to a time and place where you have felt safe, secure and calm. Experience the memory in each detail: colour, sight, sound, taste, smell and feel. If a memory is hard to access, create your fantasy of where you would like to be in order to feel relaxed and peaceful.
•Consider changing your bedtime. If you are experiencing sleeplessness, think about going to bed later so that the time you spend in bed is spent sleeping. If you are only getting five hours of sleep at night, figure out what time you need to get up and subtract five hours (for example, if you want to get up at 6:00 am, go to bed at 1:00 am). This may seem counterproductive and, at first, you may be depriving yourself of some sleep, but it can help train your body to sleep consistently while in bed. When you are spending all of your time in bed sleeping, you can gradually sleep more, by adding 15 minutes at a time.

Facial massage isolated

Nurturing Yourself

Nurturing ourselves isn’t something most of us do naturally. When we’re ill or plain exhausted, we might think about taking it easy then. However, we really need to look after ourselves, not just through good food or exercise or when we’re forced to, but every day. You can, if you choose, build something into your daily life that nurtures you. Something you do for yourself and no one else.

For the foodies, you could enjoy preparing good food and eating mindfully, order dinner in, go to a favourite café or see your favourite film at home with a cream tea.

If you’re into pampering the body, you might:

Lie in a scented bath and indulging in a silk eye mask
Enjoy a massage, have a sauna
Get your hair done, have a facial, pedicure or manicure
Do some yoga
Enjoy a heated neck and shoulder wheat bag while sipping your favourite tipple
Restore rest periods during the day
Snuggle your tootsies into a feet warmer
For the creative, nature-loving part of you could engage in daily nature breaks, indulge in a craft project, enjoy regular child’s play, go to a flower show/round a garden centre or visit an art exhibit/museum.
The creative, nature-loving part of you could engage in daily nature breaks, indulge in a craft project, enjoy regular child’s play, go to a flower show/round a garden centre or visit an art exhibit/museum.

Getting into the psychological, how about:

Begin your weekly planning by considering the activities you choose to care for your physical, spiritual, mental, and social well-being. Caring first for yourself helps you to be more available to serve in each of your chosen roles without anger and resentment.
Let go of petty annoyances. Make a list of 10 things in your life that bother you. Then give yourself a month to fix it, clean it etc… or let go of it!
Cultivate contentment. Ask yourself: Will this activity enhance my life? Will this relationship move me toward or away from what I want to be and do in my life?
Let go of the past. Imagine where you want to be in the future and move toward it.
Identify activities that are all-consuming but not necessarily important to you. This is a case of “less is more” – doing less of what is not important enables you to do more of what matters most.
To nurture yourself, with someone else, open yourself up to a friend you trust or go out with someone special.

For some solitary nurturing sit quietly and daydream by scented candlelight, journal, read, shop (for yourself), watch your favourite soap, listen to a music or relaxation CD or sleep.

While you might think that taking the time to do just one activity from the above list each day is a waste of time – are you really saying you’re not worth taking care of? Guilt is a wasted activity. You will feel no better for it. So enjoy that time for nurturing yourself now.


Conditions of the Feet

Poor circulation
The foot is the part of the body furthest from the heart; thus, the feet are often the first to suffer from inadequate blood supply due to circulatory problems.  Keep your feet wrapped up (try microwavable slippers) and have an occasional foot massage to keep the blood flowing.

Chilblains are an extreme reaction to cold, in which superficial blood vessels contract excessively causing skin to go pale and numb, then red, swollen, and itchy. To help prevent chilblains, keep feet and legs warm.  Take a vitamin E supplement to help.

Ingrown toenails
An ingrown toenail occurs most frequently in the big toe. As the nail grows deeper into the flesh the toe becomes infected, then red, shiny and swollen with a throbbing pain.  Don’t clip your nails down too far and cut them evenly across.

Athletes foot
The fungus that causes athlete’s foot is usually picked up from walking barefoot across communal changing rooms. The infection starts between the little toe and the one next to it. At first the skin is itchy and sore. Then it starts to crack and peel and can spread to toe nails and soles of the foot.  Don’t wear shoes without socks or tights and wear footwear which allows your feet to breath.

Fungal nails
Fungal nail infections occurs when a fungi infects the nails. Symptoms of a fungal infection may include brittleness, discoloration, thickening and crumbling of the nail. Treatment of this condition is either Lamisil tablets (prescription only) or fungal solution/cream preparations.   Apply Vapor Rub to infected toenails morning and night.

Corns and callouses
Corns occurring on top and sides of toes are usually due to pressure from shoes. Callouses usually form on the soles of the feet, especially around the heels. Useful treatments for corns and callous are reusable gel pads and adhesive paddings.   Use a pumice stone and then apply papaya juice on the affected area.

Bunions/enlarged joints
A bunion is usually characterized by a lump or bump that is red, swollen and/or painful on the inside of the foot in and around the big toe joint. The primary cause is ill-fitting shoes.  Useful treatments for bunions are anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and Ibuprofen. Cold ice-pack compresses to reduce swelling.  Use gel pads and adhesive paddings to reduce pressure over joint.

Dry, cracked skin and heel fissures
Dry skin can lead to the painful problem of cracking and fissuring of the skin especially round the edge of the heels. This condition is sometimes associated with wearing open backed shoes with the rim of the sole causing the irritation.   A soft density gel heel protector pad will help to reduce stress on the heels. Take three spoons of honey and mix in one teaspoonful sesame oil. Warm and apply on the affected areas.

Verrucae are caused by a virus and are contagious.  Characteristically the verruca appears like a cauliflower pattern with black spots or streaks through it. Conservative treatments include topical medicines or your chiropodist/podiatrist may use a series of freezing methods (liquid nitrogen) or electrosurgery to eradicate the problem.

Thick toenails and ridged nails
Thickening of the nail may be caused by a fungal infection, injury trauma or the gradual irritation of a tight shoe. The nail bed and root can become irreversibly damaged, causing the nail to grow thick and discoloured.   Irrespective of the cause, the nail should be cut with nail clippers and filed down to as normal a thickness as possible so that the pressure on the toe is relieved.


Self-Help Strategies for Stress

Abdominal breathing:  Abdominal slows you down and brings a good supply of oxygen to your brain.  Check your breathing pattern by putting one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. If your lower hand moves and your top hand does not, you are doing abdominal breathing. But if your top hand moves and your bottom one does not, you are doing chest breathing.  The more you practice abdominal breathing, the easier it will become.

You’re going to inhale through your nose and exhale out of your mouth.  Your exhalation needs to be longer than your inhalation.  To slow your exhalation down let your breath out as if you blowing out a candle (purse your lips).

  • Lay down flat and close your eyes (pop on an eye pillow cooled in the fridge for extra chill-out) place your hands fingertip to fingertip with your middle fingers meeting at your belly button.
  • As you inhale through your nose, push your belly up and feel your fingertips expand.  Rest a beat, before exhaling slowly through your mouth. Rest a beat before inhaling again and feel your belly rise. Repeat 5 times.
  • Now place your hands under the breast area of each side of your body which is the rib area.
  • As you inhale through your nose, expand your ribs and feel your hands push out.  Rest a beat, before exhaling slowly through your mouth.  Rest a beat before inhaling again and feel your ribs expand.  Repeat 5 times.
  • Now you are going to do a complete breathing cycle, inhaling deeply from the belly and ribcage and exhaling.
  • As you inhale through your nose for a count of 5, push your belly up and expand your ribs.  Rest a beat, before exhaling slowly through your mouth for a count of 6. Rest a beat before inhaling again and feel your belly rise and your ribs expand.  Repeat this cycle 5 times.

Pare down your to-do list: Analyse your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.”   Try this:  List all your tasks for the day (or week).  Create three columns on a sheet of paper and head them A, B and C.  Put very important tasks in A.  All unimportant tasks in C and the rest in B.  Now put all the B tasks in either column A or C.  Finally put all the tasks in column A in priority order.  Your focus for the day (or week) is column A.

Set aside relaxation time: Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break and recharge your batteries.

Connect with others: Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. A strong support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress.

Do something you enjoy every day: Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle:  You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health via: exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and limiting alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.