Have you heard mothers compare contractions to really intense period cramps? That’s not altogether inaccurate! Many times in early labor, mothers will describe what they are feeling as “just crampy” type sensations in the lower belly. Those cramps just get stronger – it’s as simple as that.
Surely labor can’t be compared with cramps! Actually, it can! While working with my clients, I realized simplicity to help partners remember valuable techniques can be very helpful. Conveniently, I found the Acronym “CRAMPS” works well to describe ways to deal with contractions.
Counter pressure may help relieve lower back pain and pressure by opening the pelvis into a more accommodating position for the baby’s passage through the pelvis. There are two types of counter pressure: hip squeeze and sacral pressure. Both of them aim to lift the mother’s sacrum bones off of where the baby’s head is. This provides a laboring woman with tremendous relief during contractions.
DEMO: hip squeeze by hand & with Rebozo
Relaxation (guided). Guided relaxation techniques include visualization and breathing exercises. During labor and birth, these can be extremely helpful for 2 reasons. First, our muscles need oxygen to function properly. The uterus is comprised of 3 muscle sets which contract during labor. Deep breathing allows the muscles to receive a good supply of oxygen, which makes the contraction feel more like radiating waves. This keeps contractions from feeling overwhelming, and women feel that they can stay on top of them.
Second, the mental-emotional state of the woman is more stable when she is deeply relaxed and focused, and this allows her to labor more peacefully.
There are 2 techniques: Most common deep slow abdominal breathing and short and fast breathing similar to painting which is a distraction method and can be helpful during last stages of labor, though in early and active labor it increases adrenaline and fights with oxytocin.
Acupressure and Aromatherapy are very helpful tools in labor. While most doulas are not certified in acupressure or aromatherapy, parents who wish to use these techniques are encouraged to research them so they have them handy in labor.
Example: P-6 inner gate nausea
Movement allows you to play a more active part of labor. A moving mom is a moving baby. The “labor dance” uses gravity to increase the effectiveness of contractions and move your baby more deeply into your pelvis. Many women feel tremendous relief in labor simply by being able to move.
DEMO: “junior high” labor dance
Positions are crucial in labor! There are many positions to labor and birth in. Trust your body to tell you what feels right. Many women enjoy laboring on their hands and knees, standing, lunging, sitting on a birth ball, and squatting, just to name a few. Position changes are important because they help encourage the baby to move through the pelvis.
DEMO: hands & knees with birth ball
Sensation There are many types of labor support that fall into this category! Hydrotherapy (laboring in a tub or shower), tens unit, hot/cold therapy, touch/massage are just a few. Some women like to be touched in labor and others don’t. Some women enjoy it for a while then suddenly can’t stand to be touched. All of this is completely normal.
DEMO: Rebozo “Shrug Hug” – Grounds the woman and keeps her eye to eye in close proximity with her partner helping release that Love Hormone Oxytocin to help labor progress more quickly.
So, to summarize:
C- Counter pressure
R – Relaxation
A – Aromatherapy or Acupressure
M – Movement
P – Positions
S – Sensations
I hope this easy to remember acronym helps you achieve more satisfying birth experiences.
I’d love to hear what you think in our comments section down below. Is this an “Aha!” moment?
Which comfort measure do you look forward to trying?