17 Natural Ways To Relieve Pain During Labor

Becoming a mother is an amazing feeling. But at the same time, you become nervous and feel a little bit scared, thinking about the pain of labor.

Natural birth is very beneficial for both mother and baby. That’s why some women prefer natural birth. But still, many are unsure whether they can manage or bear the pain or not.

You can reduce the pain of childbirth by adopting some natural methods.

In this article, we will tell you some of the best natural ways to reduce labor pain without the use of medicines.

woman in labor pain

But before we jump into the ways to relieve pain during labor, let’s answer some of the common questions.

HOW PAINFUL IS CHILDBIRTH?

Natural childbirth is indeed a very painful process. It is unlike any pain you would have experienced before, so its hard to anticipate what it feels like. Many describe the pain of natural childbirth as more intense than painful.

You will also feel many emotions during labor. Many women who gave natural childbirth say that, during labor, they think that they can't do it or that they will never choose natural childbirth again.

But these feelings are only felt during labor. After you give birth to your beautiful baby, the pain quickly changes to love and the emotions of becoming a mother.

HOW TO MANAGE PAIN DURING LABOR?

There are many methods to help you bear the pain of childbirth and mostly have no side effects.

Here are 17 natural methods you can use to manage pain during labor:

1. Stay Active

When you’re in labor, it’s extremely uncomfortable and difficult to stay still through the contractions. Staying active and doing your regular daily activity is one of the best ways that will help you reduce the pain of labor and birth. The more you walk, move around, and are upright during labor, the more you encourage your baby to descend into the birth canal. So get up out of that bed and move!

2. Massage and Counter Pressure

Touch has an incredible effect on the human mind and body. Touch releases the love hormone, oxytocin, to help relieve the stress and fear associated with labor. It also helps turn off your pain receptors, so you don’t feel as much pain in childbirth as you would’ve without it.

So, getting a massage will help you to feel more relaxed, and will distract you from the pain of labor.

partner applying counter pressure to pregnant woman

Counter Pressure is another technique that many women in labor enjoy since it relieves back and other area-specific discomforts associated with labor.

It is done by applying heavy pressure on painful areas of the lower back or area that is feeling the contraction.

3. Water Immersion/Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is the use of water for its physical or psychological benefits. The shower and tub are fantastic for women in labor. Some of the physiological and psychological benefits include:

  • Increased and easier mobility due to buoyancy (when in the tub)
  • Helps with targeted pain relief as you can point the shower nozzle to the areas of most pain (when taking a shower)
  • The warm water helps with relaxation during and between contractions
  • It is a safe and effective pain management solution for both labor and delivery
  • Helps in the reduction of blood pressure
  • A sense of control as the mother occupies her warm, private space.
  • Can help with cervical dilation

pregnant woman in labor using inflatable tub

Taking a warm bath or shower keeps you relaxed and also helps you to bear the pain of the contractions.

Many hospitals will allow you to take a bath or shower during the first stage of labor, but not many will offer you a water delivery.

4. Meditation for Relaxation and Focused Breathing

Generally, relaxation helps to ease the pain of labor. So, keeping your mind and body relaxed helps you a lot with relief from the pain of labor.

You can adapt different methods of meditation for relaxation to keep yourself relaxed.

Patterned breathing also helps you focus and work with your contraction. This steady rhythm is calming and provides a sense of well-being and control during labor.

Rhythmic breathing also increases oxygen supply which provides more strength and energy for the mother and baby.

The result is mom remains in a more relaxed state and will respond more positively to the onset of pain.

5. Aromatherapy

Some women find aromatherapy pleasant and helpful in getting them relief from labor pain despite the fact that there is limited evidence on how aromatherapy helps in reducing pain.

In case, if you are thinking of using the method of aromatherapy, discuss with your doctor, as it is important to choose aromatherapy oils that will be beneficial for you in labor or not harm you or your baby in any case.

6. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is another method to get relief from the pain in labor and it can also help in reducing the use of forceps.

There are no known side effects of acupuncture; it is safe for both the mother and the baby.

But it is important to ensure that the person from which you are receiving the acupuncture treatment is an expert or trained.

7. Acupressure or Reflexology

The primary goal of acupressure is to relieve pain and discomfort. You can treat various conditions by applying pressure on specific points on the body with your fingers, elbows, palms, or blunt-tipped instruments. It is non-invasive and has no undesirable or harmful side effects.

You can use acupressure to relieve pain and increase contractions. It can also be used to help babies descend and engage, dilate the mother’s cervix, induce labor, and strengthen contractions in slow, non-progressive labors. Additionally, it can be used to alleviate nausea, combat fatigue in protracted labor, and assist posterior positioned babies to turn to an optimal anterior position for an easier birth.

8. TENS

A TENS machine has two electrodes attached to either side of your lower back. This machine transfers a light electric current through your body. It works on the concept that the electrical impulses will compete with the pain for your uterus, thereby reducing the pain felt.

pregnant woman in labor using tens machine

There is conflicting evidence to prove that a TENS machine will help reduce pain in labor. But for some women, the use of a TENS machine was found to be helpful.

9. Sterile Water Injections

Sterile water injections, a relatively new treatment, can also help in reducing labor pain. It’s where sterile water is injected into your lower back around the sacrum just below the skin. These injections do not contain any medicine and are not harmful to your baby or you. The worst part is that you feel a little stinging at the injection site, but this soon subsides.

Some women, especially those experiencing severe back pain, find these sterile water injections helpful. You will have to find someone who is trained to administer the injections if you want to try this method of pain relief

You might still need other pain-relieving methods because early studies have shown that it works mainly on women with severe back pain. So may not work as well in early labor.

10. Take a Childbirth Class

Taking a childbirth class before going for labor is very helpful. It might not reduce your pain but it helps you to handle or manage the labor pain. It also helps that you know what to expect on the day. Women who do not learn about natural childbirth get more nervous which results in higher anxiety.

11. Doula

Hiring a doula for your labor and delivery is another way to help with your pain management. You might not believe it, but having a doula during labor will indeed reduce the chances of up to 28 percent of asking for pain medication.

12. Self Care

During labor, your body needs a lot of energy. That is another reason why you should take good care of your health and diet.

A healthy diet and regular exercise help make your body stronger in preparation for labor. The pain of labor will be less intense as a result of a strong body.

A study showed that most healthy women would benefit from a light meal during labor. They concluded that moms in labor need the same kind of energy and calories as marathon runners because of the amount of work they are doing. When you don’t have that fuel, it can reduce your contractions, leading to longer labor. So have a light snack and fluids to keep your energy up.

You can also include dates in your diet. Studies show that you will have easier labor if you include dates with your diet during your pregnancy.

13. Cold and Hot Compresses

Cold and hot packs can reduce pain and increase comfort during labor and childbirth. Here’s how:

Cold

  • To calm and relax the laboring mom and help her feel refreshed, place a cold washcloth on the face, neck, and upper chest.
  • A cold washcloth across the back of the neck helps reduce the sensation of nausea.
  • A cold pack on the lower back can help with back labor or back pain.
  • Have ice packs ready to place on the perineum immediately after the birth. This will help reduce swelling.

Hot

  • A warm, wet towel, a hot pack, a hot water bottle, or a heating pad placed below the pregnant abdomen provides comfort in labor.
  • A warm, wet washcloth on the perineum just before pushing helps to reduce perineal discomfort and encourage softening and stretching of the perineal tissues in preparation for birth.
  • A hot water bottle or hot pack can be applied to the back for back pain during labor.
  • After birth, during breastfeeding, it helps to have a warm pack or a heating pad on the belly to help alleviate the cramping sensation when the uterus is shrinking back to its original size.

13. Music

Music helps distract mom from the labor pain and can create a relaxing experience. When music is playing, it helps her breathe rhythmically with the music. It also gives her something to focus on rather than focusing on the contractions. Distraction is key when in labor.

14. Birth Ball

A birth ball is simply an exercise ball. The birth ball comforts and strengthens your lower back when sitting on it. Your pelvis is also better supported and symmetrical, which provides more comfort when in labor.

woman on birthing ball in delivery room

Women also become tired in labor and sometimes need to sit or lie down. A birth ball can help them do that and remain comfortable as the labor progresses.

15. Use of the Restroom

Using the restroom and emptying your bladder will not only help you feel more comfortable, but it will also make sure that your bladder is not delaying dilation by holding your baby’s head up instead of pressing down on your cervix. Having an empty bladder will allow you to progress better.

Clearing everything out (number one and number two) is also a good thing. It makes room for the baby to get through. Also, squatting on a toilet and relaxing your bottom is a great thing for every mama in labor.

16. Dimmed Lights

The majority of women go into labor in the middle of the night. This is not by accident. Our melatonin levels are increased at night and allow our bodies to relax and begin labor.

When we are exposed to light in labor, it has been shown to slow contractions or even stop them altogether. A study has shown that even staring at a phone screen or computer screen–will suppress contractions.

Turn the lights out, and you will be more comfortable, and it will help your labor progress.

laboring woman on bed moving to relieve pain

17. Changing Positions

Different positions can aid in the progress of labor and reduce pain sensations by increasing the pelvic opening. Staying in one position for too long can stall the labor progress and make the contractions more painful over time. Make sure that you change your position regularly, or at least every 30 minutes to an hour.

Final Thoughts

Every woman feels some degree of fear or anxiety about the pain of labor. But rest assured that labor pain can be reduced or managed by using some methods described above. Each of these natural pain relief options has advantages and disadvantages and differs from one mother to the next in terms of effectiveness.

You can select any or multiple methods to get relief from pain if you are going to have a natural birth.

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