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Ask the OB - Reduce birthing pain



Dr. Meredith McDowell of Health Quest Medical Practice gives advice for a less painful birthing experience

“Knowing your options is the most important thing in child birthing because it lays the ground work before you go in [the delivery room].”

Are you nervous about giving birth? Worried about the pain and stress of the delivery? For the majority of women, childbirth is a happy and incident-free event.  Dr. Meredith McDowell, a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist at Health Quest Medical Practice offers her advice on the birth experience.

Over the past seven years, Dr. McDowell has delivered many babies. She has pinpointed 5 key elements to a less painful birthing experience. “Although there is no such thing as a painless labor, there are techniques we can teach you to make the experience be less painful,” says Dr. McDowell.

Use a doula

Dr. McDowell says the most important thing is to be as comfortable as possible and to have continuous moral support during labor. Consider using a Doula. They provide information, physical assistance and emotional support for women during and after childbirth. “At Health Quest Medical Practice, we can help our patients find doulas if they choose to go that route,” says Dr. McDowell. “Doulas are great because they know what to expect during childbirth and provide continuous support to the birthing mom.” A Doula helps prepare you for your baby’s birth by discussing what to expect during the entire process including the prenatal visits. Dr. McDowell believes when women know what to expect, they’re more at ease.

Be prepared

When it comes to giving birth, everyone is different. “Preparation and childbirth classes really help,” says Dr. McDowell. “Knowing your options is the most important thing in child birth because it lays the ground work before you go in.” Labor can be painful, but if a mom utilizes a combination of both support and relaxation techniques she will be able to manage her pain during birth. “Support and relaxation are very important pieces of a less painful labor puzzle,” says Dr. McDowell.

Keep moving

The ability for a mom to be able to change her own position during labor can help manage pain. “Usually moving around is very helpful during labor,” says Dr. McDowell. Health Quest Medical Practice offers women a range of birthing positions such as the traditional birthing position (in bed with legs pulled back) and the squatting position. Although the hospital does not offer water birthing, they can help patients find a facility that does.

Discuss pain management

Dr. McDowell develops an individual pain management plans for each of her patients. “During pre-natal visits, I make sure to discuss pain management and the use of pain medications during labor,” says Dr. McDowell. She says patients usually have an idea of what they want when it comes to child birth. “If a patient wants to have a natural birth, we are supportive of that desire,” says Dr. McDowell. “We offer those patients low intervention options like deep breathing exercises and water relaxation.” She says patients are often amazed by the calming effects a warm shower can have during birth.

Some patients may change their mind about pain medication during delivery, so Dr. McDowell works closely with those patients to make sure they get everything they need in order to have a memorable experience.  “What I think is most important is to know what you desire, but to be open to the possibilities of needing a little help during a natural birth,” says Dr. McDowell. “The main thing to keep in mind is that you should expect the unexpected. You will have an idea of what’s going to happen during labor, but once you’re in the moment, things can change and that’s okay.”

Join a childbirth education class

Dr. McDowell urges expectant mothers to take advantage of the many childbirth education classes available through Health Quest Medical Practice. These classes give moms-to-be an idea of what’s available to them during labor and the class instructors often teach relaxation and breathing techniques.

Dr. McDowell is a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist and sees patients in HQMP’s office in Rhinebeck and Kingston.



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