Take this quiz to help you identify the labor strategies/birth methods that will work best for you. Following the labor pain quiz are descriptions of each birth method and the childbirth classes and books that teach the birth method. If you’re wondering if you should take a childbirth class or how to find a great childbirth class, refer to those articles. Whether or not you decided to enroll in a childbirth class, I recommend working through some of the resources provided in my planning guides with your partner (Birth Preparation, Preparation for Birth Partners, Birth Plan Template, and Postpartum 101).
Approach to Labor Pain Quiz
Scoring this quiz is a personal process of reflection. Given the clues uncovered through the quiz questions, put yourself into one or more of the following pain categories. Explore more until you discover a category that seems to be the best fit for you.
- The Instinctive Approach to Labor Pain
- The Self-Hypnosis Approach to Labor Pain
- The Pharmacological Approach to Labor Pain
- The Mental Technique / Deep Relaxation Approach to Labor Pain
- The Undecided Approach to Labor Pain
Once you determine your approach to labor pain, it is very beneficial to seek classes and books that are a fit for you. There are many organizations who certify childbirth educators. I refer to these organizations as “Birth Methods.” I have made an effort to put each birth method into a pain approach category, but the truth is that many of them span several categories and you will find different emphasis from different individual instructors. Your best bet for finding a great childbirth class is talking to others and interviewing instructors. See my pregnancy book reviews for help finding books that are a fit for you.
Labor Pain Approach & the Birth Methods
A further note on class brands – most hospital-based childbirth classes are taught by nurses who may have a childbirth education credential through the International Childbirth Educators Association (ICEA). While the ICEA is a champion of evidence-based practice and a valuable organization, the training provided for nurse educators is minimal and therefore hospital based classes tend to emphasize orientation to the hospital and basic birth information you can easily gather from books or web sites. I encourage you to seek out private childbirth classes unless your local hospital class is wildly popular with local parents.
The Instinctive Approach to Labor Pain
Women who prefer an instinctive approach to pain management tend to have a belief that they will know what to do when the time comes. They feel that giving birth is an involuntary bodily process and that their body knows what to do. They do not believe there is a “right” way to get through birth, but rather feel that if their confidence is high and they know what to expect, they will be able to manage the pain. These women tend to trust nature or women’s strength, or have a strong faith. Instinctive birthing is a good fit both for women who prefer to rock, sway, or walk in response to labor pain and for women who have personal experience with deep relaxation or meditation. The best preparation for instinctive birthers is a class that helps couples gain a clear picture of what labor will be like. The class should offer many tools for taking care of yourself and helping to optimize the function of labor (promote good labor progress). It should review many ideas such as: how to constructively think about labor pain, mindsets that are helpful during labor, comfort measures and encouragement that a partner can offer, and a survey of approaches including the use of water, relaxation techniques, and so on. These classes are also great for couples who are undecided on a pain management approach. Birth Methods for the Instinctive Approach to Labor Pain: ALACE/IBWP, Birthing From Within, BirthWorks
The Self-Hypnosis Approach to Labor Pain
Women who benefit greatly from self-hypnosis in birth are often drawn to approaches that they can practice in order to gain a sense of mastery before the day labor unfolds. They believe in the power of positive thinking to affect experience. They have a high degree of trust in nature and in their body’s ability to birth. They are more confident with a tried and true technique under their belt. They have an interest in minimizing the pain of labor and believe that pain has a mental/emotional component which can be eased through mind-body receptivity. The best preparation for self-hypnosis is a class specifically committed to teaching hypnosis technique coupled with a commitment to practice at home. Birth Methods for the Self-Hypnosis Approach to Labor Pain: HypnoBabies, HypnoBirthing
The Pharmacological Approach to Labor Pain
Pharmacological pain relievers such as IV morphine and epidural narcotics are best for women who trust technology, prefer to reach out to experts for assistance, and for those who do not wish to experience pain. They are comfortable with a degree of risk for unexpected side effects and they feel that freedom from pain is a key component to a positive birth experience. The best preparation for couples interested in pharmacological pain relief is a class that will offer detailed education regarding the physiology of labor and how to help labor progress while using these medications. Topics would include positions and activity that encourage labor, best timing for when to use the medications, and tools for caring for yourself until labor advances to the point where medications can be used, as well as information on the medicated baby’s needs after birth. Birth Methods for the Pharmacological Approach to Labor Pain: ALACE/IBWP, BirthWorks, Lamaze
The Mental Technique / Deep Relaxation Approach to Labor Pain
Intentional mental exercises can be practiced before labor to be utilized during labor. Examples are: deep relaxation, visualization, non-focused awareness, focused awareness, and breath awareness. Women drawn to these techniques are similar to those drawn to the instinctive approach to labor pain, but who prefer to be able to gain experience with a specific technique before labor begins. Others who find themselves in this category are similar to women who prefer the self-hypnosis approach to labor pain but for philosophical or religious reasons are not comfortable with hypnotic technique. Birth Methods for the Mental Technique / Deep Relaxation Approach to Labor Pain: Birthing From Within, BirthWorks, Bradley Method
The Undecided Approach to Labor Pain
Many couples find themselves undecided about their approach to pain management. It is difficult to know what you may want in an unknown situation, especially when you tend to be open to many possibilities. The best classes for these couples tend to be those that fall into the instinctive approach to labor pain category. They are the most open-ended. They will do much to increase your knowledge, inner readiness, and confidence, which will help you have a better sense of what fits for you. They also give you an awareness of the many options available to you, rather than training you towards a specific technique that may or may not be a natural fit for you. Often after taking an instinctive birth method birthing class, you may find that you are drawn to one of the approaches you learn about in the class. These instructors are often able to offer you more detailed exercises to use at home to prepare in that method or suggest someone who can offer a private class to cover the details of the approach. Birth Methods for the Undecided Approach to Labor Pain: ALACE/IBWP, BirthWorks, Lamaze