27 Tips for Natural Pain relief and comfort During Labour
We are all very careful to stay away from pain medication during pregnancy, why is it that we are offered such a wide range of pain drugs during Labour and Birth? The drugs used during birth can very negatively affect Mother and Baby because traces of the drugs are still left behind days after, as the half-life of some of the drugs is 20.5 hours and more, meaning that after 20.5 hours, half the dose of the medication is still in the system.
I have put together a huge list of 33 really effective tips and tricks for natural pain relief in labour, which I have personally used.
Attend Childbirth Classes or invest in a Course:
Learn more about the Physiology of the Reproductive System and the Process of Birth and different stages of labour. Read this article to learn how childbirth classes help to prepare you.
Read about and listen to positive Birth Stories
Not listening to horror stories of women who have had negative experiences during birth. Get in touch with birth circles and birth gatherings of women who share positive birth stories
Choose a calm, supportive birth partner
Choose a Birth Partner who is supportive of the way you want to give Birth, and who you feel calm and comfortable with, not someone who causes you distress or who will force you to birth “their way”. Take this person with you to your childbirth classes. Don’t let people force you to choose them or allow them at your birth if you do not feel comfortable with it. Choose a person who has emotional intelligence & maturity.
Get to know your contractions
Learn how to time your contractions and labour longer at home. This means less chances of intervention.
Informed Decision – making
Knowing your options and the pros and cons of each type of birth early on in the pregnancy.
Trusting in God’s perfect Design of your body and the Perfect Process of Birth. This ensures that you remain calm and composed, thus reducing your perception of pai.
Visualisation and affirmations
Use positive birth affirmations to remind yourself that your body is made to birth. Take one contraction at a time, knowing and imagining that each contraction is taking you closer to meeting your baby. Imagine your baby coming out and remember that your baby too, takes action with you to come out.
Know your birth preferences
Create a Birth Plan. No, our Birth is not something that you know exactly how things will turn out, so a Birth Plan is not a script that needs to or can be, followed exactly. A Birth Plan helps to let your Healthcare Providers, your Birth Partner/s and your Support Network know what are certain “no-goes” that you will not accept, what your preferences are and in the event of certain emergencies, what your second choice would be so that you are not coerced, in a moment of extreme pain and vulnerability, into doing something which you were not originally willing to do.
Discuss all your options/preferences with your birth partner and team
Early on in the pregnancy, discuss your options for providers. Be on the same page. Take your birth partner with you to your childbirth classes. Discuss all your options of health care providers with your partner well in advance. Discuss your birth options in advance with your partner and health care provider. Research all the possible medical procedures that can be administered.
Your Support Network
Emotional support from your Partner and Family Members, they should know what is in your birth plan, be fully prepared, and do some research on Labour and birth, so that they know how best to support you.
Research has shown that when births are supported by a trained Doula, there has been a 50% reduction in caesarian births, average labours are 25 % shorter, there has been a 60% reduction in request for epidurals and there has been a 40 % reduction in medically assisted deliveries (ie using a vacuum or forceps).
Make your environment comfortable
Surround yourself with pleasant smells; relaxing Essential Oils on your body or in a diffuser, candlelight and dim lights, darkness or whatever makes you feel comfortable will make you feel relaxed and will thus speed up labour. The aim is to reduce any possible Stress Factors BECAUSE FEAR=TENSION=PAIN. The bright lights and clinical smells and the thoughts of needles, doctors can slow down labour as it could be a cause for fear. Some great oils to diffuse during labour are doTERRA Lavender, Wild Orange and Peppermint for nausea
Sleep & Nap
Resting in the early part of labour- giving birth is like running a marathon, you need to rest in the early part of labour when contractions are light, and in between contractions, to save the energy for when you really need it; when pushing and looking after your baby.
Practice your squats
Practice your birthing postures during pregnancy, squat, duck walk etc. Do you want to give birth squatting? Have you practised it?
Stretch & Exercise to prepare for birth
Do some exercises to loosen the hips and prepare for birth.
Perineal massage (during pregnancy) and when needed, a bit of perineum stretching during pushing to prevent tearing or episiotomies and to ensure that your perineum stays intact after delivery.
Change positions during labour
Learning all the different positions which can ease your labour pain and work with gravity to aid baby’s head descending in the pelvis and thus speed up dilation and labour. (More about this in another post)
Changing position during your labour changes your perception, and dissipates pain, you can sway or squat or lean forward on a ball or the hospital bed or chair or your birth partner.
Standing, squatting, on all fours, birthing stool, birthing ball, rocking or swaying your hips helps to relieve pain and is much less painful than lying flat on your back.
Sitting on the toilet and walking can help the baby move down the birth canal.
Toilet trips during labour
Emptying your bladder often: A full bladder can be uncomfortable, inhibit labour, and slow the descent of your baby’s head
Breathing with focus and intention will decrease your perception of pain. You don’t want to have to remember complicated methods while trying to relax through labour or even worse, forget how to do your breathing.
Take a comfortable breathe, then let it out while relaxing your whole body. Find a physical item, person, a spot on the wall or anything you can look at as your focal point, and continue with rhythmic breathing as follows:
- Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth
- Inhale through the nose, exhale through the nose
- Inhale through the mouth, exhale through the mouth.
Relax your bottom
Holding a rope or bar that is suspended high above your head focuses your attention on the upper body, hence allowing for relaxation in the bottom part of your body
Use water during labour. You could either shower as often as you like, and the hot water beating down your back and abdomen will help relieve pain, or totally immerse yourself in a bath during labour.
Heat: You could use warm towels, warm compresses, a hot water bottle or a wheat/rice sock to relieve pain in your tummy, back, groin or legs. Here is a simple tutorial from Wellness Mama that shows you how to make one using rice.
This reduces anxiety and pain, enhances your mood because massage stimulates Endorphin production and endorphins are natural painkillers and mood enhancers.
Counter pressure: using pressure on the areas of pain especially when the pain is in the lower back, I enjoyed when my midwife pressed my hips and lower back really hard. Accupressure can also help to speed up labour
Eat & Drink & Be Merry!
Eating and drinking during labour have been shown to reduce the total length of labour by 90 mins – eat easily digested foods, light snacks, stay away from anything that will make you feel bloated or anything oily that could make you feel nauseous.
Eat dates: They contain a host of vitamins and minerals, prevent constipation and help to soften the cervix. Read this post from Rebekker Dekker for more evidence on this topic.
Drink lots of water. good hydration means no iv fluids will be needed so you reduce the needs for further intervention and you need to keep your energy levels up.
Get that LOVE Hormone going!
Feeling safe and loved get’s your Oxytocin production going. This a hormone that your body produces which facilitates the progress of your labour. Spend time with your loved one to speed up your labour!
If you would like to work with me, I have developed an 8 – module program to work through all of this in more detail with you and your partner. Get in touch with me for more info firstname.lastname@example.org
Which tips or methods have you tried and have worked for you? Let us know in the comments below!
If you want to keep these for reference. Download my Calm Birth Guide below!
Ina May Gaskins Guide to Childbirth – Ina May Gaskins
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – A La Leche League Publication
Childbirth without Fear – Grant Dickly Read