You may want all of your labor to be natural. Or you may want to use natural pain-relief methods in the beginning of labor and then add pain medicine later. You can choose one main technique or use several together, and you can also combine them with medicine. And if you try natural childbirth and decide during labor to use pain medicine, it’s OK. Only you know how strong the pain feels.

  • Help your body release its own natural pain relievers such as endorphins, which are proteins that help relieve pain
  • Distract you from the pain of childbirth
  • Soothe and relax you as you go into labor

Talk about all your pain-relief options with your health care provider to decide which is right for you. Write your pain-relief choice on your birth plan and share it with your provider and with the staff at the hospital or birthing center where you plan to have your baby. A birth plan is a set of instructions you make about your baby’s birth.

How can a labor massage therapist or doula help with labor pain?

A labor support massage therapist who stays with you throughout labor and birth may help increase your level of comfort. The labor massage can help with any stage of labor to promote relaxation and decrease the pain cycle.

A labor doula is a person who has special training to help you handle labor as a liaison for you and your healthcare provider.  A doula can help support both you and your partner during labor, especially if labor is long or intense.

What breathing techniques are used to help with labor pain?

Breathing is one the most common methods used for natural pain relief during childbirth. It uses steady, rhythmic breathing to help your body relax and distract you from labor pain. Breathing techniques can help reduce feelings of nausea (being sick to your stomach) or dizziness during childbirth. They also allow more oxygen to get to you and your baby.
Breathing techniques work best if you practice them before childbirth. Some, such as Lamaze, are taught in childbirth education classes.

How does changing positions help with labor pain?

Changing positions during labor may give you comfort by helping to improve your circulation.

You may want to try:

  • Sitting upright. This may be the most comfortable position for you and help speed up contractions in early labor.
  • Squatting may help you in later stages of labor.
  • Sitting on a birthing ball (a large rubber ball)
  • On your hands and knees. This position may be helpful if your back hurts.
  • Rocking back and forth
  • What is water therapy?

A warm bath or shower may temporarily help with labor pain. The feeling of warm water on your skin can help you relax and soothe some of the discomforts you feel. Water temperature should be 98F to 100F to help prevent you or your baby from getting a fever. Many hospitals and birthing centers have showers and soaking tubs for women in labor.

What are hot and cold therapy?

You can choose to use hot or cold therapy during labor, or use both in combination. For hot therapy, using a warm or hot compress (a hot water bottle, a towel soaked in warm water) may help you relax and ease muscle tension. If you’re chilled, cover yourself in a warm blanket. If cold is more soothing to you, place a cold washcloth on your forehead or ice packs on your lower back to help you cool down and ease tension. Sucking on ice chips also can help cool you off.

How can massage help with labor pain?

Massage can help soothe your muscles and block pain. You can do massage yourself by gently rubbing your belly during contractions. Your partner or labor coach can give you a massage. You may find that using counter-pressure (having a partner push hard on a tense muscle) on an area like the lower back can relieve tension for a good amount of time.

What relaxation techniques may help with labor pain?

Relaxation methods may help you release tension and pain. By relaxing, you give your body the opportunity to work naturally, and you save your energy for when you need it most. Instead of fighting pain, which may create more tension, relaxation techniques help you deal with labor pain by letting it come and go naturally.

There are two kinds of relaxation techniques:

  1. Progressive relaxation. This is when you relax groups of muscles one at a time during labor.
  2. Touch relaxation. This is when your support person touches or massages a certain group of muscles, helping you focus on relaxation.

Using relaxation techniques takes some practice.

Try these tips as you learn how to use them:

  • Be in a quiet space.
  • Stand, sit or lie in a comfortable position.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply.
  • Focus on the areas of your body where you feel the most tension and try to relax them.

Source – March of Dimes