11 Methods For Natural Pain Relief During Labor
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Have you been wondering if using natural pain relief during labor is a good way to deal with contractions?
If you’re a first-time mom who wants to have a natural childbirth experience you probably wonder how to cope with contractions without resorting to pain medicine.
(I’m sure all of those birth stories and labor experiences you’ve read haven’t helped ease the fear, am I right?)
I’m going to level with you mama – childbirth can be an unpredictable thing – there are so many different factors that lead to varying outcomes, it’s hard to define exactly how to deal with the pain of labor or even how it will go for you.
That’s why there are so many natural pain relief methods – it isn’t a one size fits all kind of situation.
I always planned on using natural pain relief during labor but my daughter had a different plan for me.
My water broke first and then natural contractions didn’t start on their own.
I was in limbo for hours.
I was scared an infection was going to get to my baby since there was nothing protecting her anymore, I chose to be induced.
I opted for an epidural and basically convinced myself I couldn’t handle labor pain on my own.
(You can read details in my post: The Honest Truth About What to Expect During Childbirth).
I’ve since changed my mind.
I’ve realized my last labor experience doesn’t dictate my next one.
And, since I’ve been through labor and felt that pain, I want to help you figure out natural pain relief options that will work for you (and me!) and allow for the natural childbirth experience you desire.
I think of this post like an open diary of what I plan to use for natural pain management during labor and how to prepare for birthing a baby naturally.
I’ve compiled 11 natural ways to manage labor pain for mamas who are looking for a natural birthing experience.
I’m going to share the natural methods to relieve labor pain and then honestly share what I think as someone who’s been through painful labor contractions.
The key to having a natural childbirth experience is to plan now – so follow along with me, okay?
We need to learn how to cope with contractions, get through them and then do that all over again until your sweet baby is in your arms.
Sounds simple but the pain of laboring your baby is not.
So, let’s get prepared together!
Here are 11 methods for using natural pain relief during labor and delivery…
Natural Pain Relief And Management During Labor
HAVE A GOOD SUPPORT SYSTEM
This might seem like a no-brainer but did you know that women who have a good support system during pregnancy, labor, and delivery have shorter labors? (source)
So, if you’re going to have a natural childbirth experience it’s time to put some serious thought into who will be on your labor and delivery support team.
Of course, you should include your partner but who else?
I’m thinking about using a Doula for my next labor and delivery.
Not sure what a Doula is?
Think of them as your very own labor support person who will help to:
✔Reduce stress and anxiety during labor.
✔Provide a safe birthing environment.
✔Create a birth plan.
✔Be with you during your whole labor and delivery.
✔Provide you with natural pain techniques such as breathing, massage, birth positions, and relaxation methods.
✔Advocate what you want.
Doulas are not there to actually deliver the baby, instead, they act like your own birthing assistant with your interests at the forefront.
(According to this article, using a Doula can decrease the number of requests for epidurals by 60% – wowzers that’s pretty amazing!)
You can have your Doula attend your birth no matter where you’re comfortable delivering your sweet baby.
As someone who knows what to expect during labor and delivery, the thought of having a Doula as a support person makes me feel secure which is the first step to having a natural birth experience, trust me.
Research Doulas in your area and get in touch to see if this is something that will work for you.
RELATED READ: What to Expect During Labor and Delivery for First Time Moms
GET READY FOR CHILDBIRTH – NATURALLY
There is a lot of advice out there that says you need to take a prenatal course to help you get ready for labor and delivery.
And this isn’t bad advice – it really is a must if you’re a first-time mom.
I took this online course and really liked it but again if I really think about it, the course is not taught from a natural point of view which means it doesn’t help you prepare for childbirth – naturally.
Since I’m on a quest for natural childbirth the second time around I’ve looked to see what courses are available that teach how to have a successful NATURAL birth.
I came across this course and am currently working my way through it (so far my fav!).
If you’re serious about having a natural birth and want to learn the how-to of coping with contractions and natural pain relief during labor then you need to check it out.
I’m pretty impressed so far – I’m gaining confidence in the natural birth process and will be armed with the correct information for success.
They recommend using a Doula, so as you can see mamas, we’re already on the right track!
Make sure to check out the course here to see if it makes sense for you. (or see a natural birth class comparison here)
If you want natural week by week pregnancy updates (probably right up your alley!) instead of traditional advice, then sign up for this newsletter. (It’s run by the same ladies who give the natural birth course, so a great way to get to know them 🙂 )
(PS. If you’re wondering why I recommend online prenatal and birthing courses, it’s because they can be done from the comfort of home which is perfect for those days when your ankles are so swollen you can’t see your feet anymore and the thought of dealing with cramped seating doesn’t seem very appealing – don’t worry mama, we’re all there at some point 🙂 )
PRACTICE BIRTHING AFFIRMATIONS
If you haven’t heard of birth affirmations, they’re a powerful way to prepare the mind and spirit for your upcoming labor and delivery by looking at positive statements about the birthing process.
They can also be used during the laboring process as a reminder of how strong you are.
I have to be honest, I questioned birth affirmations (and I’m all about positive thinking!) because I couldn’t understand how they would be effective as natural pain relief during labor.
Can you really be positive and confident during a painful labor contraction?
Then I realized birth affirmations are all about training your mind to handle natural childbirth.
It’s like training for a marathon by teaching yourself that you can in fact run for a long time.
Using birth affirmations to train the mind and spirit helps create your natural birthing reality, lowering your stress and therefore acts as natural pain relief during labor.
Hold up, exactly how does that work?
When you’re calm, your endorphins aren’t blocked by adrenaline (the result of anxiety and stress) and can do the job they’re meant to do.
Want some inspiration? You can read about positive birth story here!
Endorphins are your body’s natural pain relief.
(I continue to be in amazed by Mother Nature!)
According to this article, endorphins can slow down labor if it gets too intense; which can only mean labor contractions are less powerful until you’re ready.
If you check out the natural birthing class I mentioned above, they actually mail you 50 beautiful birth affirmation cards to use (they also give you other things to aid natural birth too!).
If those natural mams are using birth affirmations then there has to be some merit to them.
Now I do want to say, as a mama who has been through unpredictable labor and delivery, I would use birth affirmations to help natural childbirth but I would also be mindful that birthing a baby doesn’t always go as planned.
You need to be open-minded and allow for things that you might not plan on, okay?
RELATED READ: 23 Postpartum Recovery Tips to Heal Faster After Birth
Hypnobirthing is a combination of calm breathing, relaxation techniques, and visualization.
The idea is to choose how you will focus your energy while you’re in labor.
You can fight your body which increases your anxiety and therefore produces adrenaline (and we know what happens then!) or you can learn to relax and remain calm and trust that your body knows what it’s doing.
Mamas, hypnobirthing does not guarantee you’ll have a pain free labor but it can help you deal with contractions, one at a time – which is, when you think about it, exactly what you need to do until your baby is born.
The key is to figure out how to relax instead of tensing up during a contraction.
Figuring out what will relax you is your choice – it has to be something that makes you feel secure and comfortable.
I could write an entire post on hypnobirthing (stay tuned!) so I’m only going to summarize how it can be natural pain relief during labor:
✔Figure out what calms you (listening to music, hearing a beautiful story – you get the picture).
✔Practice during your pregnancy so that when you hear your calm trigger it’ll actually relax you.
✔Pick a relaxing scene to visualize during a contraction (BTW, contractions are called surges in hypnobirthing).
✔Spend time before labor and delivery to relax when you visualize your chosen scene.
✔Be willing to try different positions so that you can find one that feels the best (I hear a lot of natural birth mamas say squatting feels the best to keep it in mind).
I have to admit, as someone who has experienced the pain of childbirth, hypnobirthing has me excited.
Here are the books I’ll be reading to learn more about hypnobirthing:
- HypnoBirthing, 4th Addition: The Mongan Method
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (not just about hypnobirthing but looks like a good read if you’re serious about natural childbirth).
- Mindful Hypnobirthing: Hypnosis and Mindfulness Techniques for a Calm and Confident Birth
LISTEN TO CALMING MUSIC
The goal of natural childbirth is to relax and feel calm.
So, mamas, it’s time to put together a calming music playlist for your natural birth experience! 🙂
Here are the benefits of listening to calming music that is important to natural childbirth:
✔Lowers stress levels.
✔Relaxes your body and mind.
Since we’ve established that low-stress levels allow for the release of pain-reducing endorphins, using calming music during your entire labor and delivery is a very viable way to cope with labor pain naturally.
Put together a playlist of calming music that makes you feel good and start listening to it before labor and delivery.
Once you’re in labor, bring it to wherever you choose to give birth and press play!
As someone who has been through labor and delivery, I can tell you having calming music playing would have been nice.
It might not have changed the outcome of my experience but it would have helped me remain calmer – which is good for my mind, body, and baby.
RELATED READ: The Complete Third Trimester To Do List
CREATE YOUR OWN ATMOSPHERE
I love the idea of creating your very own birthing atmosphere!
I may be planning a natural birth for my next labor and delivery but I still want to be in a hospital.
Being around people who can help immediately in the event something goes wrong calms and relaxes me.
Plus, in my experience, L&D nurses are some of the most compassionate nurses I’ve met. 🙂
(It’s all good if you want to birth at home mama! I’m all about no judgment here – birth where you feel comfortable).
The difference is that I will create my own birthing atmosphere so that I can be surrounded by things that soothe, calm and make me feel happy and safe.
So what exactly should be in a birthing atmosphere?
According to this article, the perfect birthing environment has the following things:
Let me walk you through what I would want in my birthing atmosphere to get your own ideas flowing. 🙂
✔I would draw the curtains so that the room feels warm, cozy and private.
✔I’ll bring flameless candles to create a warm light that is soothing.
✔I would turn off as many lights as possible.
✔I would request a private room with the door closed.
✔I’ll have calming music playing on low volume.
✔I’ll bring a pillow and blanket from home that makes me feel secure.
✔I’ll ask that the staff leave me alone as much as possible.
✔I’ll bring lavender (like this one) to spray on my pillow and neck because the scent is very soothing.
You get the idea 🙂
The benefit of using a birthing atmosphere is that you will feel calm, soothed, relaxed, secure and loved.
Feeling that way will help you get through your labor naturally.
Remember mama, labor and delivery should go your way, so don’t be afraid to state what you want and have your partner advocate for it.
If you’re using a Doula or midwife, they can help too.
RELATED READ: The Complete Postpartum Recovery Plan
CHANGE YOUR LABOR POSITIONS
The first time I was in labor, I was told if I changed positions the next few contractions would be stronger.
The nurses were right.
But if I think about it, that was probably because I was experiencing drug-induced contractions – not natural.
Staying in one position felt good for me during that labor (and remember, you have to do what makes you comfortable!)
I read this article and loved the point that your body will tell you what position works depending on where you are in labor.
Read up on different labor positions and bring a list of ones you’d like to try during labor and delivery.
You should also practice the positions that involve your partner before labor and delivery.
That way when the time comes, you’ll know what to do instead of getting upset when your partner doesn’t know what to do or you can’t seem to get the position right.
Check out this article for a list of birthing positions.
WALKING AND MOVING AROUND
Walking and/or moving around during labor and delivery might not seem like a natural pain reliever but, truthfully, it’ll probably make things a whole lot easier on you.
According to this article, the movement helps the baby get into the correct position for birth.
From there, the baby’s head will rub your cervix stimulating the release of oxytocin – the hormone that helps move your labor along.
Some women have even reported that their contractions grew stronger when they stopped moving!
As someone who has experienced labor pain, I couldn’t imagine moving too much during a painful contraction.
I realize now that by not moving I was likely increasing the strength of my contractions.
I think moving around is a viable method for natural pain relief during labor.
I found this awesome article about it, so give it a read if you need more convincing!
RELATED READ: The Complete Postpartum Care Checklist
HOT WATER BOTTLE
Heat has been used as a way to relieve pain naturally for decades so it may be a good idea to try it during labor and delivery.
Bring a hot water bottle with you or have one available if you plan to have a home birth.
Fill the bottle with hot water (make sure it’s not boiling hot!) and place a towel or cover over it and place where it feels comfortable for you.
I can especially see heat being helpful during early labor.
I plan to spray a little lavender on the cover to help relax me even further.
BIRTH IN A TUB
Warm water is soothing and relaxing which ultimately means you’ll be less stressed which, as we’ve seen from other natural pain relief methods, is conducive to shorter, less painful childbirth.
Since your body is submerged in water you have greater buoyancy which can make changing your labor position easier.
I don’t think I would actually deliver my baby while in the tub but I can see myself laboring there until I’m ready to push.
I would need to decide if I was more comfortable laboring in the tub or staying in the room where I’ve created my birthing atmosphere.
As someone who has labored before, my gut tells me I’d rather stay in my room.
Birthing in a tub is a great idea if you are planning a home birth but if you want to go to the hospital check to see if they have a tub.
The hospital where I delivered my daughter has one so I am definitely keeping it in mind for my next labor and delivery.
I found this great article for you to read and educate yourself if water birthing sounds like a great way to for you to relieve pain during labor naturally.
Essential oils are widely used for many things and relieving labor pain naturally might be one of them.
I’ve already spoken about spraying lavender because the scent is soothing and calming but there are other oils you can use to help with labor and delivery.
It’s important to use a carrier oil, such as coconut oil if you use the essential oils directly on your body.
Here are some essential oils you may want to try for natural pain relief during labor and delivery:
- Lavender – known for it’s relaxing and soothing which as we’ve seen is vital for natural birthing success.
- Peppermint – you can actually apply peppermint (use a carrier oil such as coconut oil) directly to where you are in pain to help. Smelling peppermint can also help you feel energized and focused.
- Frankincense – can assist in managing pain when the baby’s head is crowning. It’s also said to be good for perineum care and might help prevent tearing.
There are more essential oils you can use during labor but these seem to be the most useful ones.
As someone who has labored, I do think the essential oils I mentioned will be wonderful to have during labor.
You can bet they will be packed in my bag for next time!
There you go, mama!
11 ways you can practice natural pain relief during labor and delivery.
We need to change the dialogue when it comes to labor and delivery – yes you are likely to feel pain but you can and will get through it.
You don’t need to use medications if you don’t want to – there viable natural methods to relieve pain – the key is to find which ones will help soothe and relax you while making you feel safe and secure.
Another thing to remember is that labor will pass and so will the pain.
You will not be birthing a baby forever and you are strong enough to handle whatever labor throws at you.
Surround yourself with people you trust – your partner, a Doula and anyone else who makes you feel good.
Don’t hesitate to create your very own birthing atmosphere filled with things that relax, soothe and make you feel good.
You can create your own environment no matter where you plan to birth.
And, mamas, let’s agree that we shouldn’t judge anyone for where they choose to give birth, okay?
Do keep in mind that labor and delivery can be unpredictable and you’ll need to be open-minded if there is a change to your birth plans.
Just because you’re learning about natural pain relief doesn’t mean epidurals are bad either.
I’m a firm believer that women need to do what’s best for them and not anyone else!
If you find labor too intense and you’ve tried natural pain relief don’t be scared to say you need more help.
Birthing and meeting your baby is supposed to be a good experience!
What natural pain relief methods have caught your eye?
Do you have any other ones that I didn’t mention here?
Let me know because I may want to incorporate them into my own birth plans! 🙂
Comment and share below!
These are wonderful tips! As a doula, I think you’ve done a wonderful job here. I’ve given birth without pain medication in two births, (a third I had one non-narcotic shot that lasted 20 minutes so that labor was also a natural labor in my opinion). The key for me was to trust my instincts. I believe that trusting birth works. If you keep in mind that everyone on the planet was born, it will help you remember what a safe natural process birth is. You can trust that your body is genetically programmed to know how to do it, and do it well. Trust birth and trust your instincts. If you want to rock on hands and knees, then do. If you want to squat, or moan, dance or sing, or any other thing, trust that it’s the best idea for you. Your body knows what needs to happen to get that baby out!
Thank you! I couldn’t agree with you more, Erica! I also believe that every woman is capable of natural birth. The key is to plan your birth experience as much as you can before you go into labor and to also know that your body was made to deal with the pain and will deliver your baby safely. During my next labor, I’ll be following the natural pain tips I outlined in the post and trying many different birthing positions. I also plan to spend some time in the birthing tub. There’s something soothing about that! Thank you for reaching out!
I was lucky enough to be able to go through with 2 natural deliveries with no drugs at all.
Good for you! It is very possible to have a drug free birth experience. The key is to prepare before delivery and know when methods you want to use to help with pain management. Thanks for reading!