All About You
Only a few weeks to go and you're probably counting down the days! No wonder, with all the aches and pains throughout your body. But along with a sore back and swollen ankles, you may notice less painful signs that delivery day is around the corner. A whitish to clear fluid may leak out of your breasts. This foremilk, called colostrum, will sustain your baby for the first few days of his life if you choose to breastfeed. You may also have a whitish, vaginal discharge called leukorrhea. This is normal throughout pregnancy and will increase as you approach delivery.
Alternatives to Medication
You have a lot of choices when it comes to pain management during childbirth. What kind of strategy you go with is an extremely personal decision. You should consider several methods and even combinations and backup plans as you think about delivery day.
Here are a few popular methods pregnant women use to go through labor medication-free.
Lamaze: You've probably heard of Lamaze, an approach to childbirth that encourages women to be active during labor by moving around and using breathing strategies versus medication to cope with pain. Your partner is a key part of making this method a success. This practice has been around since the 1960s and remains popular today. To fully understand Lamaze, locate an instructor in your area by going to Lamaze.org.
The Bradley Method: A cousin to Lamaze, the Bradley Method also relies on women being active participants in labor. In Bradley Method classes, couples learn deep-breathing strategies to cope with labor pain. It's expected that your partner will help you focus on these breathing exercises as well as other strategies during labor. (Contact Bradleybirth.com for more information.)
Even if you haven't attended classes in Lamaze or the Bradley Method, you may still try an alternative route to deal with pain. A certified nurse midwife or doula may guide you through labor with a variety of coping strategies.
Water therapy: Warm temperatures and soothing water can help your body relax, potentially making labor and delivery easier. If you're not ready to give birth in the tub, you can still experience the benefits of water therapy in the shower. "Women don't realize how soothing water can be until they're in the water," says Dr. Joanne Motino Bailey PhD, and a certified nurse midwife. Dr. Bailey says water therapy is "underutilized" as a method of pain relief in labor.
Movement and body positions: During childbirth class or even at the instruction of your certified nurse midwife during labor, you can try several body stances to ease your pain. For example, you may find the rhythmic motion of rocking back and forth helpful. To help you focus and move labor along, "Try to stay upright and go walking," suggests Dr. Bailey.
This is certainly not a comprehensive list of what's available when it comes to managing childbirth pain without medication. Along with these methods, there are plenty of others such as acupuncture, hypnosis, and more. Learn more here!
Research any coping strategy you intend to try before delivery day and discuss your desires with your healthcare provider. Some hospitals are more accepting of certain options than others; for example, some hospitals don't have watertubs for childbirth, and some physicians may not be prepared to deliver your baby in the shower or with you under hypnosis.
Around this week you may experience an increased discharge called leukorrhea. Your expanding uterus is pressing against your diaphragm, and you may find it more difficult to catch your breath. This will get better once the baby "drops" (usually about two to three weeks before delivery). Try sitting up straight and sleeping in a propped up position to alleviate any discomfort you might be feeling.
Another point to be aware of this week is to watch for any increase in swelling. Swelling of the feet is normal in advanced pregnancy, but if you experience facial swelling, severe headaches, abdominal pain or nausea, contact your doctor immediately. You may be suffering from preeclampsia.