Midwives guide mothers through the pain of labor

EUGENE, Ore. — Pregnancy is a life-changing event for families. Nine months of growing a healthy baby leads up to what some people say is the most painful thing in life. Midwives at Women’s Care are there to help women manage the pain to deliver beautiful babies.

“One of the most important things we’ll review with our patients in the prenatal period is the importance of breathwork. And breathing through the contractions to help maintain focus and a sense of control while the contraction is occurring. And also breathing once the contraction is over to help increase oxygen to baby and help increase relaxation,” said Madeleine Katz, Women’s Care Certified Nurse Midwife.

Katz said breathwork and movement help moms with pain management during labor.

“As labor progresses, we like to see babies come down farther in the pelvis. So, movement is an important aspect about being in labor because that helps facilitate rotation of the baby as well as relaxation of the hips and pelvis, which helps the contractions continue to get stronger,” Katz said.

A birth ball can be used to help during labor, but midwives also use a peanut ball to help laboring mothers.

“We use this with patients that have an epidural or even with patients that don’t have an epidural we can put it between their legs to facilitate the opening of the pelvis so that the baby has more room to come down,” said Chris Skieens, Women’s Care Certified Nurse Midwife.

Skieens also said lunges can help the baby come down or just switching positions can help move the baby into the right position and help labor progress.

A midwife’s goal is to help mothers manage the pain of childbirth with the least amount of medical intervention. But if something comes up, they use a shared decision-making approach.

“Which is actively involving the patient in the decisions that are being made. Explaining what the interventions are and why we are using them, so that the patient feels empowered within their own prenatal care,” Katz said.

PeaceHealth will also be introducing nitrous oxide for laboring mothers next year.

“Nitrous oxide is kind of like what you use at the dentist office. You would just breathe in this mixture of gas and oxygen. It kind of helps you remove yourself from the situation, thus removing your thought process away from the pain,” Skieens said.

If emergencies do come up, midwives work closely with OBGYNs at Women’s Care. They develop a relationship between each other and the patients, allowing them to easily step in if needed.