Many women find it difficult to prepare for coping with the sensations of labor and birth when they have never experienced it before. Practicing the multitude of comfort strategies recommended for labor is immensely helpful. But it also helps to be in tune with the coping strategies you already use in everyday stressful, upsetting, or painful situations. Knowing how you respond in those kinds of situations will reassure you, knowing that you already have some coping strategies under your belt, or it will encourage you to improve on those techniques if you feel they are not effective.
With the following examples, recall how you have responded (if they apply) or how you would respond (if they happened today):
- Stubbing your toe
- Getting your blood drawn
- Stuck in traffic when you’re already running late for an appointment
- The last couple of miles on a long run or bike ride
- Root canal or similar extensive dental work
- Finding out that you forgot an important deadline at work
- An argument with a loved one
- More on your to-do list than you have time to complete
Write down both your knee-jerk reaction to these situations as well as the things you do to calm yourself. Look at your list. Can you find a thread of similarity? Like, you typically feel better after talking with a good friend or prefer to go out alone for some fresh air or a walk? Make note of what works best for you and which things are not helpful. You may find that you already have some great coping strategies. Or you may find that you don’t cope well with stress. In either case, think about how you need to work on either adapting your strategies or developing new ones for labor. Also, let your birth support team know about your natural coping strategies (or lack thereof). This useful information will help your support team prepare for how to comfort you in labor. Knowing things like how you find relief by taking a long hot shower after a stressful day or that you prefer to be alone when you’ve experienced something upsetting, will help them better understand and use your go-to comfort strategies.
What everyday coping strategies do you use? How do you think they’ll help in labor?