One of the biggest questions women have when they get pregnant is, “how bad will it hurt when I go into labor??” You’ve probably heard horror stories from women who say it was the worst thing they’ve ever gone through. Or you see the portrayal of labor and birth on T.V., and again it kinda looks like the worst pain you could go through! I’ve met some women who wanted to avoid a natural birth just because they think there is no way to manage labor pain naturally, or without meds.
Of course if you want the medical interventions that is your right and you can do whatever you have to in order to feel comfortable during labor!
But if you want to give birth without medical interventions, there are ways you can manage labor pain naturally!
Related: How To Have A Natural Birth
In fact, many of these natural pain relievers can actually help you speed up your labor and delivery too!
Relaxation is an important factor for managing labor pain naturally. When you tense your body up, the pain is worse. So some of these methods focus on helping you relax as a way to relieve the discomfort or pain.
One thing to note is you’ll want to make sure you practice relaxation techniques BEFORE you go into labor. It’s important to have an idea of what you like and what relaxes you ahead of time. Plus practicing will help put you in that relaxed state of mind faster when you’re actually in labor, rather than if you’re trying it for the first time during labor.
Also some of the methods you choose may not end up working for you when you’re in labor and that’s ok! When I was pregnant I loved having my head/hair rubbed. But during labor I was like, if you touch my hair one more time…!! But this is why you want several relaxation techniques up your sleeve so if one ends up not working you have others you can try.
11 ways to manage labor pain naturally
1) Relaxing music or sounds, (like rain, beach noises, etc.)– Listening to relaxing music or sounds can help reduce stress and get into your relaxed state of mind quicker. It helps you focus on something soothing, and can act as a motivator during the later stage of labor. Music or sounds can help you with your visualization too, (which you can read about further down on the list).
2) Essential oils– Certain essential oils, specifically lavender, can help relax you during labor. You can have someone apply the oils on your body, you can put them in an oil diffuser, or add it to a bowl of water to dilute the oil so the smell isn’t so strong.
Some people really enjoy this, but if you are very sensitive to smells you may not want to go this route. During my first labor my doula tried diluted lavender essential oils, but I couldn’t handle it. I was way too sensitive to the smell and it was too strong for me.
3) Massage– Have your partner or doula massage your body. This can really help to relieve back pain or wherever you hold your tension! You can try massaging in between contractions or during contractions, and on different parts of your body. I loved when someone would push on my lower back during contractions because it helped ease my back pain.
4) Walking– Moving around can help you manage your labor pain and it can also help your labor speed up because you’re letting gravity move your baby down!
5) Birth ball– Again this is another way to use movement to help you ease your pain. You can sit on the ball, rock on it, or lean on it. These types of movement can also help open up your pelvis, bring your baby down, and can speed up your labor.
6) Use water– You can take a shower or sit in a tub. The warm water can help soothe your muscles and also help you relax. You want to make sure you have the go ahead to do this from your healthcare provider though as some believe if you sit in water during early labor it can actually stall your labor.
7) Breathe– Use your breathing to help control your pain during contractions. Don’t take short, shallow breaths. You also don’t want to hold your breath as those ways of breathing, or lack of breathing can make your pain worse. You want to take deep breaths. This helps get oxygen to your baby, and forces you to focus on relaxing your body so you can let the contraction do its job, which again helps lessen the pain of the contraction.
8) Change positions during labor– If you’re going the all natural route, you aren’t forced to labor on your back. You can get on your hands and knees, you can lean against your partner, you can sit on a birthing ball, you can walk, you can lay on your side, or any other way that feels comfortable. Changing positions is a great way to relieve discomfort.
9) Heated rice pack– You can have someone place a heated rice pack on your back, (or where it feels comfortable for you) to ease your pain. I liked having the rice pack on my lower back during contractions and then in between contractions, I wanted it taken off.
10) Become knowledgeable– when you don’t know what’s happening to your body during labor, that can cause fear. When you’re fearful, you clench or tense up your body to fight the pain, which only makes contractions more painful and can stall labor. Understanding what’s happening during labor takes away a lot of the fear.
I recommend taking a natural childbirth class, (NOT a hospital class!) because the sole purpose of a childbirth class is to make you knowledgeable about what’s happening to your body and the choices you have during labor and delivery.
I did take a natural childbirth class so I knew what was happening to my body during contractions. The pain I felt was my cervix widening and because I knew that’s what my body should be doing, I could relax through the contractions. When you take fear out of the equation, you take pain away too.
11) Visualization– You can use this technique to help you through each contraction. You can use music or sounds to aid with this or do visualizations without any noise.
I remember when my contractions started getting closer together, I pictured myself sitting in an inner-tube in the water and as the contraction peaked, there were high waves that I rode out. As the contraction subsided, the waves would lessen and the water would become calm again. I guess I took the saying, ride the contraction out, literally!
The pain that you feel during labor is pain with a purpose. Your body is helping you bring your baby into this world. If you want to go the natural route, these tips can help you manage labor pain naturally. And the bonus is that many of these methods can help you speed up your labor as well! Be sure to practice some relaxation methods while you’re still pregnant too to help set yourself up for success!