Coping with contractions



How will I cope with the contractions?

There are many options available and widely used. Staying upright and mobile, remembering to eat and drink to stay hydrated and keep energy levels up and breathing through contractions will help you cope and help your labour progress. Options include:

  • TENS machine -A TENS machine is a small, battery-operated device that has leads connected to sticky pads called electrodes. You attach the pads directly to your skin. When the machine is switched on, small electrical impulses are delivered to the affected area of your body, which you feel as a tingling sensation.
  • Hydrotherapy - water has many benefits including the soothing properties of warm water, the privacy afforded to the mum, the relative weightlessness and buoyancy that allows women to change position easily. Hypnobirthing/ natal hypnotherapy Not being hypnotised as such but instead learning and having an understanding of the way the body naturally functions in childbirth, using strategies such as meditation and relaxation to allow normal birth in a more comfortable manner.
  • Inhalational entonox (gas and air) - This is a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide gas. It won't remove all the pain, but it can help to reduce it and make it more bearable. Many women like it because it's easy to use and they control it themselves. Side effects include nausea and light headedness.
  • Pethidine an intramuscular injection (into the muscle of your thigh or buttock) The injection can help you to relax in between contractions and can lessen/ dull the pain during the contractions. Side effects include drowsiness and nausea/ vomiting an anti sickness drug, such as cyclizine, is often administered alongside pethidine to combat this.
  • Epidural - an injection in the back (an area of the spine known as the epidural space) that numbs the nerves and stops you feeling pain. As the dose of epidural drug wears off, sensation will return and further doses can be given as a 'top up' when necessary. Side effects include numbness from the abdomen down to the tips of your toes which reduces mobility and increases the need for urinary catheterisation.
A good antenatal classes will really help prepare for birth and also to identify who you would like to support you in labour. This may be your partner, a family member or close friend. You may also be interested in hiring a doula a lay person specially trained in supporting women in labour.