Monday, November 06, 2006

Rebecca B. Singson, MD, FPOGS

Many men go through labor, some with Lamaze class experience, some without with the hope of participating in the labor process. It is a common desire to try to alleviate the woman’s discomfort. However, it is also a common dilemma to feel helpless in the face of heightened pain when the woman is in the active phase of her labor but there is a lot a man can do for his wife to make her feel he is emphatic of the great discomfort she is going through. Read on, husband, to know what you can do when the time comes.

1. Hold her hand. Most women in pain seek a hand to hold. Touch therapy does work. Your hand can be the most comforting contraption amidst the trappings of a hospital set-up. Many times, she may even dig in her nails into your skin at the height of a painful contraction. Many men have been wounded in the processes but it’s certainly no time to complain because that discomfort is a fraction of the discomfort your wife is going through.

2. Just be there for her. Some wives may not want to be touched at all when they are contracting but the fact that you are there to commiserate with her already gives her assurance that you are one with her.

3. Help her find a comfortable position. Find our what gives her the best relaxation by propping her with pillows where she needs them: does she want her head higher, or pillows between her legs, or turn on her left side, or maybe the right?

4. Keep her cool. Not just her mood but her temperature as well. Pain causes adrenalin release which in turn can cause her to break out in sweat. Try to immerse a washcloth on cold water and apply as a cool compress on her forehead.

5. Sometimes, after an epidural anesthesia, because all the blood rushes to the legs, she may feel chilly and even tremble. Keep her warm with blankets and use your body warmth to embrace her. Or use a washcloth immersed in warm water and put it over her feet (especially the soles) repeatedly.

6. Throw her encouraging words. Tell her, “You’re doing just great, my Love”, “Hey, we’ve gone this far!”, “It won’t be long now and we’ll see our baby!”, “I never knew you were this formidable. I’m so proud of you!”

7. If her back hurts, use the palm of your hand to massage her lower back or use a tennis ball to apply pressure in a circular motion.

8. Remind her to empty her bladder at least every 4 hours. A full bladder can actually obstruct the head from coming down and delay the delivery process. Besides, stasis of the urine makes perfect breeding ground for urinary tract infection.

9. In a hospital set-up, once in active labor, the woman is kept on NPO (nil per orem) meaning nothing by mouth, not even food or water. She has an intravenous fluid though to keep her from being dehydrated. However, she may insist on wanting to drink especially if the labor lasts a long time. Give her ice chips or wet her lips with cold water.

10. Keep her hair off her face. During labor, the woman’s hair is usually a mess. With all the sweating her hair can get plastered to her scalp and covering her eyes or her forehead. Usually she is too exhausted to even sweep the hair off her face plus, coupled with the intravenous fluid stuck in her hand, she feels immobilized to do it. Comb her hair off her face or tie her long hair with a rubber band or a clip. She’ll really feel so pampered by you.

11. Play soothing music. Classical music is soothing for both mother and baby. No rock music please.

12. Remind her that nothing lasts forever, not even labor!